If you've been past the Santa Monica Convention Center anytime in, oh, the last several decades, you've seen Chain Reaction
, the monumental sculpture of a mushroom cloud constructed of metal chains. The work is by Paul Conrad, better known as the Pulitzer Prize–winning chief editorial cartoonist of the Los Angeles Times
from 1964-93. Aside from its status as a beacon of progressive ideals, the sculpture has been a hallmark of Santa Monica's brand as a public-art champion (as evidenced by its place of pride in official tourism materials). Yet the city has been making every effort to destroy it, which, as you might imagine, has met with passionate resistance. The plan to save the work before the mid-February funding deadline -- preferably to restore it in situ as the centerpiece of a peace park, but if necessary at least to dismantle it in such a way that would preserve it for possible reinstallation -- is being spearheaded and documented by the late artist's family and gallerist Robert Berman, who host this weekend's Chain Reaction Fund- and Awareness-Raiser
at Bergamot Station. Free and open to the public, the afternoon features live music, food trucks, an open bar (oh, now you're listening!), and art generously donated for sale by RETNA, a passionate Llyn Foulkes and other supporters. The gallery's exciting current exhibition of work by political cartoonist and concerned citizen Mr. Fish places the plan to save Chain Reaction
in its proper historical context of free speech in civic life. Robert Berman Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; Sun., Aug. 18, 5-8 p.m.; free. (310) 315-1937, conradprojects.com.
Sun., Aug. 18, 5-8 p.m., 2013