Wednesday, June 22, 2011

‘Surfing Madonna’ must come down

Published: June 22, 2011

‘Surfing Madonna’ must come down

Southern California beach town reaches agreement with artist on removal of mural -- without destroying it

An illegal mural depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe on a surfboard that mysteriously appeared on Good Friday in the northern San Diego beach town of Encinitas must be removed “as soon as reasonably possible,” the city announced yesterday.

The 10-foot-square mosaic made from pieces of stained glass showed up on a support wall below a train trestle on Good Friday, April 22. It shows Our Lady of Guadalupe surfing, with Juan Diego riding the tip of her surfboard, and bears the slogan: “Save the Ocean.”

Since the mural went up, it has gained worldwide attention and attracted hundreds of visitors, but the city council voted last month that the “guerilla art” constituted graffiti and could also be interpreted as municipal endorsement of a religious symbol, so it must be removed.

The city of Encinitas spent $2,125 for a June 7 study by the Sculpture Conservation Studio to figure out how the mural could be removed without damaging it. The experts concluded the task would be virtually impossible. But on June 8, artist Mark Patterson came forward to say he was responsible for the mural and knows how to take it down without harming it.

“Patterson, an Encinitas resident since 1983, said he quit his job at a software company in late 2010 so he could devote his time to creating the Surfing Madonna, a vision he first had in 2005,” the San Diego Union Tribune reported. “He said he ignored that vision until it came back to him powerfully in 2009. He then took a prestigious two-week class in Italy in September 2010 on mosaic making. He quit his job a month later. The mosaic took him nine months to build. Patterson is still living off his savings.”

The city issued the following statement yesterday:

Mark Patterson, the artist and owner of the “Save the Ocean” mosaic that has been come to be known as “The Surfing Madonna” placed on the Encinitas Boulevard/rail bridge underpass has reached an agreement with the City of Encinitas to remove the art work from its present location on the underpass wall so it may be relocated elsewhere.

Under the terms of the agreement reached in negotiations between the City and Mr. Patterson’s attorney Anton Gerschler, Mr. Patterson will:

Remove the mosaic as soon as reasonably possible and obtain a City-issued encroachment permit at his cost;

If necessary, pay for a safety inspection of the bridge underpass at his cost not to exceed $5,300 by the North County Transit District (NCTD) or a NCTD designated consultant;

Pay for any repairs to the bridge underpass directly caused by the placement or removal of the mosaic;

Reimburse the City $2,125 for the cost of the art conservancy firm, Sculpture Conservation Studio, retained to evaluate how to remove the art work without damaging it;

Pay an administrative fine of $500 to the City; and

Refrain from placing any works of art on public property without City authorization.

The City acknowledges that Mr. Patterson retains ownership of the mosaic and acknowledges the artist’s preference to re-locate the “Save the Ocean” mosaic to a new location within Encinitas.



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