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'Surfing Madonna' mosaic draws attention in Encinitas

May 1, 2011 |  2:01 pm


A piece of guerrilla art dubbed the "Surfing Madonna" is drawing public attention and causing political consternation in the northern San Diego County suburb of Encinitas.

The 10-foot-square, stained-glass mosaic showing Our Lady of Guadalupe riding a surfboard, with a portrayal of St. Juan Diego on the board's nose, appeared mysteriously on a wall supporting a train bridge over Encinitas Boulevard, just two blocks from Moonlight Beach.

Witnesses say they remember seeing young men in hardhats installing the brightly colored mosaic, which appears to be affixed to plaster board that has been glued to the wall.

The mosaic is drawing a steady stream of the curious, cameras at the ready. The message "Save the Ocean" appears vertically on the left side of the mosaic.

Encinitas city officials say they're are not sure what to do.

Should the Sheriff's Department be assigned to find the renegade artists and cite them for defacing public property? Should city workers just remove the mosaic and trash it? Should the local businesses that have offered to buy the mosaic be allowed to do so, and, if so, which business?

A legal opinion is being sought before any moves are made, officials said.

-- Tony Perry in Encinitas

Photo: A man takes in the "Surfing Madonna." Credit: Fox 5 / San Diego