Posts Tagged ‘Surfing Madonna’

The Surfing Madonna

Monday, November 18th, 2013
The Surfing Madonna

The Surfing Madonna

She’s back!

First location The Surfing Madonna

First location The Surfing Madonna

When Mark Patterson first bolted his 10 x 10 foot mosaic, The Surfing Madonna, to the support arch of the railroad track in Encinitas, he did it quickly wearing a hard hat and disguised as a construction worker (he had help from other “workers”). But, in addition to being a religious subject on public property, it was, broadly speaking, graffiti. No one knew the artist. No one gave him permission. We loved it. But it couldn’t stay.  That was in 2011. It resided on another wall for awhile but it wasn’t very visible.

Now it is on a private wall, hence legal, and we are grateful to be able to see her again as we drive down Encinitas Boulevard.

I really liked the first location better, thought, because it was approachable. I walked up to the mosaic and almost put my nose on it. The tiles are beautiful. The silver and gold and the blue have deep color and shine even in the shadows. People even brought flowers to that first location. It was a fun “happening.” And mysterious because Mark Patterson didn’t admit to creating it for some weeks.

Now it is official, outdoor art. Still colorful. Still with an important message, “Save The Ocean.” But it’s rather aloof now, up from the sidewalk. It is still visible from a car as you drive by and you can walk along a sidewalk to get in front of it. The wall of the Leucadia Pizzeria is much better with art on it.

The graffiti artist Bansky just finished a three week blitz in New York. The fun of that, in addition to the art itself, was that no one knew ahead of time on which wall or truck door his spray paint might land. That element of art-on-the-fly is what The Surfing Madonna had.

She’s more secure now. I hope she stays for a long time. Considering all she’s been through, she still sparkles.




Mark Patterson’s Surfing Madonna

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Surfing Madonna

We’ve been following the saga of the Surfing Madonna with a couple of previous posts.

SignOn San Diego, June 9, 2011,  reports that the artist who constructed the Surfing Madonna, Our Lady of Guadalupe on a surfboard with the message, Save The Ocean beside her, is Mark Patterson. Patterson claimed creation of the mosaic because the  city of Encinitas has decided it must be removed from the gray cement supports of a train overpass.  The mosaic seemed to be epoxied to the cement and chipping it away the only way to remove it.  But Patterson said it was attached to a back-board screwed on with 18 screws.

So Encinitas can safely take it down.  It is on public property with a religious icon.

There has been a lot of back and forth public opinions, Leave It Up/Take It Down.

However, that it would be removed is a no-brainer. The graffiti artist, by definition,  appropriates someone’s property without permission to display his art.

Graffiti in Chinatown, San Francisco

Like this tag in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It may be art, but it is out of place.  And it is not like commissioned public art or murals on walls which have been approved by the owners, like the La Jolla murals.

Patterson’s notion that the train overpass would be an okay place for his art is naive at best.  He did after all disguise himself as a construction worker wearing a hard hat to put it up, so it would seem that he had some small inkling that he was doing something illegal.  SignOn San Diego states that “Patterson said he was unaware of the city’s public-art approval process.”  That’s like saying you are unaware of a building code.  It’s easy enough to ask.

And it’s hard to believe that his attorney, Anton Gerschner, sees Our Lady of Guadalupe as merely a “cultural icon that is part of our society” and not a religious icon.  The culture and society which revere Our Lady of Guadalupe as holy happen to be Catholic. It’s hard to divorce the Madonna from religion. Even though Patterson says his message “is not religious” but a message to “save the ocean” he did choose a religious figure to ride the waves.

There is no denying that some of the 18,000 drivers a day snap photos as they pass the mosaic, some walkers leave flowers, and some come to Encinitas just to see it.  And if it had not been put in that public spot, maybe not so many would have discovered it.  Now it has not only local followers but national attention as well, reported in such papers as the Washington Post.

I’m sure the city of Encinitas will find a legal place to display it so people can continue to come to see it.  And Patterson’s message, Save the Ocean, will continue as will our appreciation of his skill as a mosaic artist and the unique way he visualized his message. We just need to appreciate his skill and vision in a different spot.

Wind Harp by Ross Barrable and Surfing Madonna by Who?

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Surfing Madonna

More about the Surfing Madonna in Encinitas which I posted last time.  Still nothing is settled.  Still a lot of controversy and commentary.  It’s  illegal art by placement.  Phony construction workers clandestinely epoxied Our Lady of  Guadalupe riding a surfboard to a cement support of a railroad overpass in Encinitas, California.  Hence it is “graffiti” and not commissioned public art. Lots of people coming to look at it, though.  Some hate it as sacrilegious. Some think it is perfect to represent the surfing city. No doubt about the “thought provoking” label. Understandably, the Encinitas City Council says it can’t stay where it is, a “religious” piece on public property. But what to do with it?  It may not be able to be saved and moved if the epoxy is strong.  It’s made of hundreds of tiny mosaic tiles. It may have to be chipped away. And who will pay the cost of conserving it or destroying it? It’s not over yet.

Fortunately, there are many public art pieces not surrounded by such controversy and which present us with an inspiring and appreciated art work.

To Remember Me by Ross Barrable

Singing strings on To Remember Me

One is Ross Barrable’s memorial piece for a Chula Vista leader, Ronald J. McElliott.  It is a Wind Harp.  It hums with the wind in a spot by the bay at the Chula Vista Marina.  I had to stand close to it to hear it but a couple passing by suggested I put my hand on the metal base and my ear close to the base. The metal vibrates like the wire strings above and the whole piece reverberates in the changing wind currents. I can’t image anyone would not be glad to come across it.

There are rocks on the ground with words, “Inspire,” “Listener,” “Friend.”  They reminded me of the scene in the Fellowship of the Ring in which Tolkien’s heroes stand in front of the magic gate to the mines of Moria trying to figure out the writing, “Speak, friend, and enter.”

These rocks, however, do not lead to an Orc infested underground city. The ships in the marina, the California sun, the singing harp are exactly the opposite. Bright day, blue water, a memorial to a friend.  Can’t get much better.