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Artist agrees to move 'Surfing Madonna' mosaic that surprised and stirred Encinitas

June 21, 2011 |  5:42 pm

The artist whose "Surfing Madonna" mosaic surprised and charmed a portion of the populace in the San Diego suburb of Encinitas has agreed to pay the cost of removing it from public property, as well as other costs that could run to more than $7,000.

In exchange, city officials will not seek to have charges brought against Mark Patterson, who affixed the mosaic, with the slogan Save the Ocean on its left edge, on the wall of a bridge overpass a few blocks from Moonlight Beach.

The mosaic appeared mysteriously April 22. Weeks later, when his name was found at the top of the mosaic, Patterson came forward with his attorney to claim the work as his own.

Patterson and a friend, posing as construction workers, put the mosaic on a wall of the overpass that leads to the beach from Encinitas Boulevard. Discovery of the work sparked a local debate about art vs. graffiti, artistic freedom vs. public responsibility.

In the agreement, Patterson agrees to pay the cost of removal, as well as the cost of a safety inspection of the bridge by the North County Transit District (not to exceed $5,300). He also agreed to pay a $500 fine and to reimburse the city $2,125 for the cost of a consultant the city hired to decide how to remove the mosaic.

Along with not seeking charges against him, city officials agreed that the mosaic belongs to Patterson.

The mosaic shows Our Lady of Guadalupe riding a surfboard, with a portrayal of St. Juan Diego on the board's nose.

Patterson hopes to have the mosaic placed somewhere in Encinitas. Under the agreement, Patterson promised never to place works of art on public property without City Hall approval.


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Photo: "Surfing Madonna" mosaic in Encinitas. Credit: Fox 5 / San Diego