Future of ‘Surfing Madonna’ uncertain

ENCINITAS — The future of the mosaic that brought international recognition to a relatively quiet corner of the city remains in question after removal of the mural late in the evening of June 22.
The mosaic came down with little fanfare and minimal damage to the artwork and the concrete underpass on Encinitas Boulevard to which it was attached. Mark Patterson, the mosaic’s creator, must now decide on what to with his “gift to the city.” Patterson promised the following day that “it’s staying in Encinitas, even if that means it stays in my garage for an indefinite period of time.”
Patterson removed the artwork after he and his lawyer Anton C. Gerschler reached an agreement with the city to remove the piece at Patterson’s own expense and pay a $500 fine.
The artist also agreed to cover the city’s expenses related to the art consultants’ work, estimated to be $2,000.
Patterson hired a local company — Tekton Master Builders — at a personal cost of approximately $4,000 to remove the six panels, each weighing about 40 pounds. He supervised the removal effort as well. “I was so glad the workmen knew exactly what they were doing,” he said.
It look less than two hours to get the 10-foot-by-10-foot mosaic down mostly unscathed — far fewer than the five hours the construction company had estimated, according to Patterson.
Patterson and his friend Bob Nichols, dressed as construction workers, installed the piece in broad daylight April 22. The mosaic depicts Our Lady of Guadalupe on a surfboard with the words “Save the Ocean” down the side. It has been labeled vandalism by city staff, some council members and various residents, including other artists.
Despite several offers to purchase the piece, Gerschler said his client is setting up a nonprofit organization to secure funding for the on-going preservation of the mosaic. “He’s not openly soliciting donations at this time,” Gershler said.
However, former planning commissioner Gene Chapo informed the council at a meeting earlier this month that an exploratory committee had been formed with representatives from the Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association, Leucadia Town Council and Leucadia 101 Mainstreet along with other residents in an effort to facilitate the process of safeguarding the artwork.

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