‘Surfing Madonna’ creators announce new mosaic in the works

ENCINITAS — The group behind the “Surfing Madonna” mosaic announced they are creating a new mosaic for the city’s upcoming Marine Safety Center.

The Surfing Madonna Oceans Project announced the creation and donation of an 8-by-15 foot stained glass mosaic that will depict the various fish and marine wildlife below the surface of the ocean.

The new work from the creators of the “Surfing Madonna” mosaic will be created for the new Marine Safety Center on Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.  Courtesy rendering

The new work from the creators of the “Surfing Madonna” mosaic will be created for the new Marine Safety Center on Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. Courtesy rendering

Several artists are collaborating on the piece, which is estimated to cost over $20,000: renowned ocean artist Scott Walt, illustrator Peggy Sue Florio Zepeda, glass producer/finisher Bob Zepeda, and Mark Patterson, who created the original “Surfing Madonna” mosaic in 2011.

The original guerrilla piece, which is actually entitled “Save the Ocean,” captured international attention in 2011 when it appeared on the wall of a rail underpass along Encinitas Boulevard near the intersection of Coast Highway 101.

Encinitas staff deemed the artwork to be graffiti because it was placed without city approval, and the state denied it a place at the entrance of Moonlight State Beach, concerned that the artwork could potentially violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

The mosaic ultimately found a home on the wall of Leucadia Pizzeria, a few feet from its original perch under the underpass.

Since then, however, the mosaic’s creator and others have used the image to launch a campaign of ocean awareness through the creation of the nonprofit Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, which has been funded in large through proceeds from a popular eponymous 5K/10K race.

The new mural is being paid for from race proceeds.

“The use of art such as this is a profound way of educating the community on the fragility and beauty of our local ecosystems while adding value to Moonlight Beach and the community,” said Bob Nichols, president and founder of Surfing Madonna Oceans Project.

The $3 million Marine Safety Center is expected to be completed by the start of next summer’s beach season in May.

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