Restoration of Herbert Bayer’s Chromatic Gate Begins

Led by South Coast Fine Art Conservation, working with Fitzpatrick Specialty Painting, restoration of the Gate is on track to be completed in 4-6 weeks, depending upon weather constraints.

The Chromatic Gate, a 21-foot high, 12-and-a-half ton sculpture was erected in 1991 by the Herbert Bayer Sculpture Committee, headed by the late Paul Mills. The use of the Gate design by Herbert Bayer, a celebrated internationally recognized artist and member of the Bauhaus movement, was gifted to the Bayer Committee and the sculpture was accepted by the City of Santa Barbara. Private and corporate funds paid for the original Gate and installation.

Funds designated for maintenance as part of the original gift agreement were depleted in 2000 when the Chromatic Gate was last repainted. This once striking and vibrant large-scale sculpture has experienced the severe environmental and corrosive assaults of life near the ocean for over a decade. Repainting and rust repair is critical to the life of this painted steel artwork and original paint formulas have to be adapted to meet current environmental standards.

The first step in the process is to properly prepare the surface. Metal surfaces will be cleaned, sanded, and the primed. Careful masking of each color bar will follow. The sculpture will then be painted with highly durable aircraft specialty paint. This onsite restoration process is a collaborative effort by the County Arts Commission, Santa Barbara City Parks and Recreation, and City Public Works Departments. Mayor Helene Schneider has this to say about the start of the Gate’s restoration, “At long last, the Santa Barbara community and visitors will soon be able to enjoy the Chromatic Gate in its full colorful glory. This would not have been possible without the dedication and generosity of many local residents, and I am grateful to them for making this public/private partnership possible.”

Funds to restore the Gate were raised throughout 2012 through the efforts of the

Santa Barbara County Arts Commission with support from the Restore Our Rainbow (ROR) Committee co-chaired by Patty DeDominic and Gene Sinser, the Santa Barbara Arts Fund, Santa Barbara Beautiful, Inc., other community efforts and a number of generous private donors. 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 will not only oversee the restoration of the Chromatic Gate, it has established a dedicated maintenance fund for the Gate and is developing a maintenance plan and agreement with City Parks and Recreation for ongoing and future maintenance.

A new donor plaque will be installed on the site and a ribbon cutting ceremony is planned upon restoration completion of the Gate.

To increase public awareness on the work of Herbert Bayer and his years spent in Santa Barbara, Rita Ferri, Visual Arts Coordinator and Curator of Collections for the County Arts Commission has organized an exhibition Herbert Bayer: Synthesis for the City Hall Gallery. The reception for the exhibition will be held Thursday, March 7th from 5-7 pm during 1st Thursday.

For more information about the Chromatic Gate restoration project contact Rita Ferri at the County Arts Commission at 805-568-3994; or


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