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Cardiff sculpture under attack -- by a shark?

July 25, 2010 | 10:53 am


The official name of the bronze sculpture in Cardiff-by-the-Sea  is "Magic Carpet Ride." The artist has said it is meant to represent youthful exuberance.

But to a segment of this northern San Diego County community, it's become known as the "Cardiff Kook."

Attempts to mock it are a regular feature of seaside life: a witch's hat plunked atop the sculpture at Halloween; surfer shorts slipped over its head occasionally; and, yes, a woman's bra or two.  Some area residents sport  bumper stickers: "Dump the Cardiff Kook."

Even given the statue's history, Saturday's stunt was an eye-opener: the surprise appearance of a shark surrounding it, seeming to devour the bronze surfer.

"This is the biggest and best so far," said Bob Olson, 66, a retired Navy dentist who lives in Cardiff. "I don't know how anyone will outdo this, but I'm sure they'll try."

If anybody saw the individual or individuals who encased the sculpture and its pedestal -- total height 16 feet -- under cover of darkness, they did not inform authorities. No manifesto was left behind, no claim of credit was called to the local media.

The "Jaws"-like covering appears to be either canvas or stiff cardboard, with its shape reinforced inside by wood and wire mesh. It did not appear that the sculpture was damaged.

By early Sunday morning, the shark had become a major attraction for surfers, pedestrians, tourists (foreign and domestic), joggers, bicyclists and others along South Coast Highway.

Word that the city of Encinitas soon planned to remove the shark add-on seemed to spur the crowd to capture the moment in pictures.

Created by Hemet sculptor Matthew Antichevich under a $92,000 commission from the Cardiff Botanical Society, the sculpture was installed three years ago just outside the San Elijo State Beach campground. Critics immediately blasted it as effeminate, not enough like a surfer -- more a ballet dancer than a macho rider of waves.

"He's committed the unpardonable sin of not being cool,'' said Bonnie Russell of Del Mar, a legal writer and "a delighted connoisseur of art -- the art here being the shark."

-- Tony Perry in Cardiff-by-the-Sea

Photo: The beachside sculpture was encased in another, makeshift sculpture: a shark. Credit: Tony Perry / Los Angeles Times