On Independence Day in Santa Monica, Emmy Award-winning actor Ed Asner played the role he comes to most naturally: the engaged citizen taking a principled stand for what is right, in this case preserving artist and sculptor Paul Conrad’s compelling reminder of the ever-present danger of nuclear annihilation.
In the photograph shown here, Asner is endorsing the effort to preserve “Chain Reaction,” a sculpture created in 1991 by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times cartoonist Paul Conrad as a warning of the horrors of nuclear war.
The piece’s mushroom cloud shape is a rare example of public art acknowledging the United States’ dropping of atomic bombs on the primarily civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the conclusion of World War II. Conrad inscribed his work with a message: “This is a statement of peace. May it never become an epitaph.”
The Santa Monica City Council is threatening to tear “Chain Reaction” down. It cites safety concerns due to the artwork’s diminishing structural integrity and what it says are too-high maintenance costs. Numerous public figures, among them Asner, Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer and six former Santa Monica mayors (pictured below) are coming together to preserve the sculpture.
If you want to get involved in the effort to save “Chain Reaction,” visit the Save Chain Reaction website.
Photo credit: Jerry Rubin
Six former Santa Monica Mayors supporting the Save Chain Reaction campaign stand in front of Paul Conrad’s threatened peace sculpture in the Civic Center at the start of the annual Santa Monica 4th of July Parade. From left to right are: Michael Feinstein, Nat Trives, Ruth Goldway, Judy Abdo, Paul Rosenstein and Dennis Zane.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Asner in bathrobe steps out of his home the morning of the Fourth to endorse saving the sculpture.