Mushroom Cloud Made of Chains
Santa Monica, California
Sculpted in 1991 by political cartoonist Paul Conrad, "Chain Reaction" towers 26 feet high. The surprisingly realistic atomic explosion mushroom cloud is made of copper chains welded together so tightly that it could be mistaken for a really tall sculpted shrub. Designed as a protest against the Cold War, the artwork was disliked by many Santa Monica residents (they agreed with its politics, but thought it was ugly and scary), and it only received the approval of the city council by one vote.
Time passed and opinions mellowed. In 2012 Chain Reaction received landmark status. But certain city officials still hated the thing, and claimed that the aging sculpture was a safety hazard that should be torn down since it would cost a half-million dollars to repair. The sculpture's supporters said that was nonsense, raised over $100,000 for its restoration, and in Feb. 2014 the city council finally agreed to let Chain Reaction stay.