The once colorful and eye-catching Chromatic Gate sculpture off East Cabrillo Boulevard that has seen dramatic wear and tear over the last decade is finally getting the attention it needs. This week, with the arrival of warmer weather, restoration will begin on the 21-foot-tall, 12.5-ton steel sculpture, which was originally erected in 1991 by the Herbert Bayer Sculpture Committee.

Last repainted in 2000, the sculpture has fallen victim to the “severe environmental and corrosive assaults of life near the ocean” and is in desperate need of extensive rust repair and repainting, according to the County Arts Commission. The repairs — which will include cleaning, sanding, and priming the steel, as well as repainting the structure with a “highly durable aircraft specialty paint” — are expected to be completed in four to six weeks.

“The new paint selected is a Dupont Imron paint, which is used for industrial purposes. … It is a highly durable paint that also passed all of California’s stringent air quality control regulations,” stated Rita Ferri of the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission. The approximate cost of the project — including materials, labor, equipment, etc. — is expected to come in at $56,000.

Fundraising for the project — which was organized in 2012 by the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission in association with the Restore Our Rainbow Committee, the Santa Barbara Arts Fund, and Santa Barbara Beautiful, Inc., among others — also includes $20,000 for the future upkeep of the site through a maintenance agreement with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “At long last, the Santa Barbara community and visitors will soon be able to enjoy the Chromatic Gate in its full colorful glory,” said Mayor Helene Schneider.

Project organizers were impressed to see how “many concerned Santa Barbara citizens rose to the challenge of seeing the Gate return to its original brilliance and this Santa Barbara icon restored to its rightful beauty,” the Arts Commission noted. In addition, organizers hope to address issues regarding the landscaping and lighting in the area surrounding the Gate, not to mention maintaining a regular washing and waxing schedule for the piece, noted Ferri.

Next, Ferri hopes to see fundraising continue for the restoration of sites such as Lookout Park’s bronze Time Compass — which was previously stolen — as well as Rincon Park’s Lightening Gate.


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