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    Posted December 10, 2011 by
    Encinitas, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    What makes your suburb unique?

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    THE SURFING MADONNA--A Holiday Resurrection


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     This "surfing Madonna" graffiti art in Encinitas, California, was so popular that admirers often tied up traffic. When city officials ordered it taken down, residents like gailpowell protested its removal. They were so passionate that the piece is now under consideration from the city to be a fully legal art installation. Check out the full story below!
    - rachel8, CNN iReport producer

    It was this past April that a mysterious mosaic appeared out of no where, underneath an Encinitas, CA. train trestle bridge. Good Friday 2011 was the day that someone had stealthily placed a brilliantly vibrant rendering of the Virgin of Guadalupe riding a surfboard with the words "Save the Ocean" alongside it. She became know as The Surfing Madonna.


    This rogue art provocatively captured the attention of the Encinitas beach community in ways both good and bad. Free-spirited coastal dwellers took the Madonna to heart and felt proud and protective of this apparition. Locals and tourists alike flocked to the busy corner of Encintas Blvd. and Vulcan Ave. to take in the majesty of the work. This soon presented a new problem: the small sidewalk could not contain the multitudes and admirers began stepping out into traffic lanes to take photos. The Madonna had become a safety hazard. It was about this time that the Encinitas politicians and bureaucrats got into the action. The Surfing Madonna was categorized as "graffiti" because it did not go through the City Review process to get official approval. Another problem: some in the community got themselves in a tizzy because the mosaic was a depiction of "religious imagery" which is a real no-no on public property. The fact that so many people were flocking to the Madonna was creating pandemonium along busy Encintas Blvd.


    Still there was no denying the beauty and artistic quality of the Surfing Madonna. I stopped by one afternoon and stood back gazing lovingly at her and was taken with just how the mosaic glass that makes up the panel seemed to shimmer and radiate light. On this congested road artery to Interstate 5, it was the Madonna that made people stop and take notice of her message that ran along the side: SAVE THE OCEAN.


    When the Encinitas City Council eventually okayed funds to have a art consulting group come up with ways to safely take down the Madonna, it was then that artist Mark Patterson stepped forward. He was greeted with open arms by the citizens of Encintas but the City Council began devising a list of all the money and fees they would be charging Patterson for his "rogue art" contribution. Groups of people came together to raise funds  to help defray whatever costs Mark Patterson might accrue. Patterson got himself a pro bono lawyer who negotiated with the City and Encinitas allowed Patterson himself to remove the mosaic, which he did. Mark Patterson now has possession of the Madonna and has started a non-profit called Surfing Madonna Oceans Project Foundation and the good news is, he is about to submit the art work for a formal public view process approval from the City. The Madonna may soon be legit! if all goes as planned, Patterson will lend the mosaic to the city for 100 years, and fund a new city-approved installation through the new nonprofit he created. Mark Patterson has personally selected the corner of Encinitas Blvd. and South Coast Highway as the spot he would like to resurrect the Madonna at. This is also is the entrance to popular Moonlight Park State Beach. The beauteous Madonna and her message of salvation for our oceans is an inspired choice for this location. The Encinitas Arts Commission voted unanimously this past week to recommend to the city they approve the installation of the 10 foot by 10 foot Madonna at this locale. The Encintas City Council will meet to vote on this very topic on January 25, 2012 and Madonna supporters will be there to help make this final push for the Virgin's new home. After that, it is a matter of the State Park & Recreation Dept. okaying the mosaic, as the entrance to Moonlight Beach is state park land.


    The Surfing Madonna has united the city of Encinitas like nothing else. Her magnificence is indisputable, The fact that she was born "unofficially" does not make her any less worthy in my book. My heart soars to know that the Lady will, hopefully, soon have a new permanent home-RESURRECTED!

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