‘Surfing Madonna’ may be coasting into Solana Beach

The “Surfing Madonna” Photo/Jon Clark

By Marlena Medford
Staff Writer

The Surfing Madonna mosaic mysteriously appeared under a bridge in Encinitas just before Easter Sunday and, since then, has earned quite the following. For months locals have flocked to see it, some lighting votives near the feet of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is depicted riding a wave with a simple plea written to the left of her surfboard: “Save the ocean.”

Albeit beautiful, this image of Mexico’s patron saint may soon be vanishing from Encinitas. That’s because the 10-by-10 foot mosaic was installed without city permission by artists masquerading as construction workers, so city council has deemed it “graffiti” and decided it must be removed.

The question now is where will Surfing Madonna go.

Several parties have added their two cents on the matter, including Solana Beach art lovers Peter House and his wife Carol Childs, who have stepped forward to offer Surfing Madonna a permanent home on their property near Fletcher Cove, where the public could still view it. Coincidentally, this property is already home to another mosaic of Madonna, a copper abstract interpretation created by Childs’ mother Winette Childs, a celebrated sculpture artist who is responsible for many public art pieces, including the fountain in the center of the Solana Beach Plaza.

“We are concerned about the conservation and protection of this artwork,” explained House, who noted that pieces of glass were already missing from Surfing Madonna when he went to examine it recently. “This is a tough climate for outdoor art. The salt water alone will eat it alive.”

For that reason, House and Childs would keep Surfing Madonna inside a protective encasement, which would be attached to the wall of their building near Plaza and Acacia, which once housed the Solana Beach Motel. That encasement would also be lit so people could view the artwork at night. They have also agreed to assume the cost of removing the mosaic, which could prove to be a challenge because it’s bolted to the wall. Should the artwork or wall be damaged as it’s removed, they have also agreed to pay for repairs and restoration.

House and Childs have approached Encinitas City Council with a written proposal — and have been in talks with Anton Gerschler, the attorney representing Mark Patterson, the Surfing Madonna artist who recently reveled his identity.

“At this point, we’ve done all we can,” House said. “We would love to bring [Surfing Madonna] to Solana Beach. It’s a great piece of artwork, wherever it ends up.”

Related posts:

  1. Solana Beach benefactors donate $25K for community center renovations
  2. Two new public artworks to be temporarily displayed in Solana Beach
  3. Solana Beach Transit Center’s new kiosk promotes community
  4. Solana Beach: New retaining wall at Fletcher Cove Park will also commemorate neighbors
  5. Special night at Solana Beach City Hall

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Posted by Lorine Wright on Jun 22, 2011. Filed under News, Solana Beach. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

7 Comments for “‘Surfing Madonna’ may be coasting into Solana Beach”

  1. Sherlock

    These patrons from Solano Beach really appreciate art, unlike the Encinitas City Council. Let that blank, cold drab concrete wall reflect the inner vision of Jerome $tock$ and James Bond. – remember it in November when they try to get reelected!

  2. Gail Powell

    Well, this is all very nice but the Madonna belongs in Encinitas. However, this kind and thoughtful gesture by the Solana Beach art-lovers is certainly appreciated. I guess it will all be up to Mark Patterson and his lawyer?

    • mohansen

      Mark Patterson and his attorney don't have much power. They are likely just trying to keep Mark from being on the hook for destruction of City property. He did not have permission to install the Madonna, and the City officials want to show this kind of activity will not be tolerated. So, Mark and his attorney must be thrilled that the Solana Beach couple have stepped up to shoulder some of the costs.

    • mohansen

      It seems like Mark is determined to find a place to mount it in Encinitas … so I guess time will tell!

  3. zephon

    Stocks said a Madonna is illegal to have such a Madonna on public property.

    And SB already has one and wants another…

    Does Encinitas Citycouncilman Stocks and Mayor Bond just say what they want the public to believe to reach their authoritarian goals?

  4. cllockett

    I hopped a plane out of New Orleans to see this magnificent mosaic. To me, it encapsulates everything that is Encinitas. The city council members are idiots for not protecting and appreciating such a gift. Pisses me off.

  5. Nico

    Yes there are idiots, this could be a great attraction for the city.

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