Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 5:47 am | Fair 63º


Local News

Donations to Put Shine Back on Iconic Rainbow

Fundraising campaign aims to restore Herbert Bayer's deteriorating 'Chromatic Gate' near Santa Barbara's waterfront

Restoring a rainbow sounds like a daunting task, but that’s essentially what several groups in Santa Barbara are hoping to do.

The rainbow in question is the “Chromatic Gate,” Herbert Bayer’s iconic modern art piece that stands on city-owned land near the waterfront.

Erected in 1991, the rainbow-colored metal sculpture has suffered the ravages of 20 years exposure to salt air and the sun’s damaging rays.

The paint is badly faded and is peeling in places, and rust and other deterioration are evident.

Restoring the work of the renowned artist, who lived in Montecito the last 10 years of his life, is the goal of a group of local residents, under the auspices of the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission.

Their efforts to raise $60,000 for the renovation and ongoing maintenance recently received some big boosts, according to Rita Ferri, visual arts coordinator/curator of collections for the Arts Commission.

A gift of $10,000 from David Jacoby and the Jacoby Family Trust was a catalyst for two other major donations, Ferri said.

Mercedes Eichholz, a longtime friend of Bayer, responded with a match of $10,000, Ferri said, and Santa Barbara Beautiful has pledged a similar amount.

“We’re finally having some movement and some energy happening,” Ferri said.

“Chromatic Gate,” located at Cabrillo Boulevard and Calle Puerto Vallarta, across from East Beach, is 21 feet tall and weighs 12.5 tons.

It came about due to a fundraising campaign led by the late Paul Mills, who for many years served as director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Fading paint and rust are clearly evident on the
Fading paint and rust are clearly evident on the “Chromatic Gate,” Herbert Bayer’s modern art piece near the waterfront. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Great controversy surrounded the sculpture when it was proposed, with some critics complaining that it would be sorely out of place in Santa Barbara, with its Spanish architecture, and would be a blot on its pristine coastline.

Supporters countered that it would be wonderful addition to the waterfront area, and that the community was fortunate to have a work by such an internationally-admired artist.

Once the piece was installed, the controversy faded, and today the “Chromatic Gate” is a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike.

“It’s become a great place to take wedding photos,” Ferri said . “I think it’s become an iconic piece in Santa Barbara.”

The piece will need to be stripped down to its bare steel before it can be repaired and repainted, Ferri said.

Special paints, formulated by the original company — U.S Paint — to match the original will be used to bring the sculpture back to its former glory, Ferri said.

The Arts Commission and its partners on the project — The Arts Fund and Restore Our Rainbow — have looked into having professional art restorers from Los Angeles come in to do the work, Ferri said, but found the cost “prohibitive.”

Instead, they hope to work with local companies that specialize in painting high-end automobiles to get the job done.

The group hopes to have all the money raised no later than the end of the year, Ferri said, and hopefully before then.

The actual work is expected to take about two weeks, Ferri said, and will require the art work to be completely tented.

Patty DeDominic is among those leading the charge for “Chromatic Gate.” She and husband Gene Sinser have formed Restore Our Rainbow, “with the goal to engage as many people as possible in the restoration project.”

A key part of that effort is involving community youth in the project, DeDominic said.

A student group led by 17-year-old Laura Goe has geared up, attending city meetings to lobby for the project, and embarking on fundraising.

The students hope to raise at least $5,000 using collection containers at local retailers, and holding barbecues and other events, DeDominic said.

“It was clearly something that needed to be done, and we thought it would be fun to be involved in something that would engage the whole community,” DeDominic said.

Click here for a video about the youth supporting the project.

In an interview last week, Jacoby said he supports the project for many reasons, most notably that “public art is an important contributor to (the city’s) outstanding cultural quality of life.”

Jacoby, who grew up in Israel, said he feels a strong connection to Bayer and his work, noting that the artist fled Germany, where the Bauhaus movement was under attack by the Nazis.

“On behalf of the Jacoby Family Fund, I am delighted to help restore Bayer’s “Chromatic Gate”…as a beautiful, modern piece of art — and regard it as a personal win over past evil,” Jacoby said.

For more information about the project or to make a donation, contact Ferri at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.568.3994.

Tax deductible donations can be sent to the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, P.O. Box 2369, Santa Barbara, CA 93120. Checks should be made payable to the Arts Commission, with a notation that they are for the Restore Our Rainbow campaign.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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