June 25, 2011

Encinitas says good-bye to Our Lady of Surfing

Los Angeles Times "Our Lady of Guadalupe mysteriously appeared in Encinitas a few days before Easter, not on a piece of toast, but riding a surfboard with her palms joined in prayer and an enigmatic Mona Lisa smile." By Mike Anton

'She arrived seemingly out of thin air — beautifully rendered in a 10-foot-square mosaic of stained glass and stone that had been attached to a concrete railroad bridge without anyone noticing.

'Mother Mary's stance in the tube of a Tahitian-sized wave indicated she was no amateur. Her right foot forward on the board made her a goofy foot. Who knew?

'"Save the Ocean" was spelled out down the artwork's left side. Locals in this funky San Diego County beach town called her the Surfing Madonna. Pilgrims paid tribute, taking photos and leaving flowers and the occasional votive candle.

'City officials, though, labeled the work graffiti and began the process of having it removed. The affair was reported on locally and eventually went viral, with Facebook and Twitter pages rallying to save the Surfing Madonna.

'"I didn't expect the kind of reaction it got. We put it up at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, so it's not like I was sneaking around," said Mark Patterson, a 58-year-old long-time local who came forward earlier this month to claim authorship. "I've driven past that railroad bridge a million times. It always looked to me like a perfect frame."

'Not for long. This week, Patterson and his attorney reached an agreement with the city. Patterson was fined $500 and will pay for removing the Surfing Madonna from under the railroad tracks and any damage that's been caused.

'He also will reimburse the city $2,125 for the art consultant it hired weeks ago to evaluate how to remove the mosaic — eight panels glued to backing which was screwed into the concrete bridge — without shattering it.

'"We recognized the workmanship in the piece," said Deputy City Manager Richard Phillips. But there were issues of protocol and safety; people were absentmindedly walking into traffic looking for the best angle to take a picture.

'Finally, Patterson agreed to "refrain from placing any works of art on public property without city authorization."'

No comments: