After two decades of neglect, one of Santa Barbara’s most colorful landmarks finally has a new paint job.
Contrary to some folks who offered to get a ladder and can of spray paint to restore the 22-year-old Chromatic Gate across the street from Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Hotel & Resort, it took a fundraising drive that amassed $78,000 to restore the metal sculpture and ensure it will be maintained.
“It was really gross looking,” Ferri said of the rusting Herbert Bayer-designed rainbow sculpture. Ferri, county Arts Commission visual arts coordinator and collections curator, made that comment before a crowd of about 100 art fans and passers-by who attended a sun-drenched Monday afternoon ceremony at the foot of the Chromatic Gate.
The restoration effort was a seemingly endless public-private collaboration that started years ago, but really took off last year when Montecito art fans Gene Sinser and Patty DeDominic led a concerted effort to bring private donors together to put up most of the $78,000. The couple also brought together more than 40 young people who staged a fundraiser.
City officials brought in workers from Michael Fitzpatrick Auto, 411 N. Quarantina St., to sand, fill, prime and repaint the rainbow while dodging moisture and blowing sand. Ferri said spray can paint was not used. Restoration was more like repairing the metallic body of a vintage car.
Mayor Helene Schneider told the crowd the restoration was “a community effort to preserve public art,” which involved small and large monetary contributions, key volunteer efforts and government cooperation to line up the necessary permits.
The family of Santa Barbara art enthusiast also backed the effort, along with such local art buffs as David Jacobs.
But the rainbow gate restoration is just the start of the city’s effort to upgrade the oceanfront park, which includes the Cabrillo softball field, said Nancy Rapp, Parks & Recreation director. “The park will really come to life,” she said of future improvements.
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