Sculpture scorned: a possible end for a Santa Monica monolith

Sculpture scorned: a possible end for a Santa Monica monolith
In this Tuesday, July 10, 2012 photo, a photographer takes a picture of "Unchained Mass," a sculpture by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Paul Conrad, in Santa Monica, Calif. After years of erosion by the ocean's salt air, "Unchained Mass" is not in danger of exploding but of falling down. With repairs estimated to cost $300,000, city officials say the work by the late Conrad is a work of art that Santa Monica can no longer afford. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — For decades the big, black mass of chain link that's piled up outside Santa Monica's Civic Center has awed and inspired numerous passers-by.

It has also annoyed and confounded just about as many others.

The sculpture, called "Chain Reaction," is meant to depict the mushroom cloud that forms after an atomic bomb is detonated.

Debate about it centers on one theme: Is the work, built of chain links big enough to anchor a ship, really art? Or is it junk?

The late Los Angeles Times cartoonist Paul Conrad created "Chain Reaction" as an anti-war statement and gave it to the city as a gift in 1991.

With it now needing costly repairs, a new argument is brewing in Santa Monica: Should "Chain Reaction" be fixed or dumped?