North Coast Current

Surfing Madonna finds home on Web

The search continues for a permanent home for the Surfing Madonna by artist Mark Patterson. (Photo courtesy of Surfing Madonna Oceans Project)

Surfing Madonna Oceans Project

The search continues for a permanent home for the Surfing Madonna by artist Mark Patterson. (Photo courtesy of Surfing Madonna Oceans Project)

Ernesto Lopez

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After many legal battles, the Surfing Madonna mosaic is still homeless.

But despite the challenges and defeats, its supporters and creator, Mark Patterson, remain hopeful that it will soon find a home. In the meantime, they continue to raise awareness and funds to cover the costs for its future installation.

Most recently, and very quietly, a website for Patterson’s nonprofit organization Surfing Madonna Oceans Project was launched. According to its mission statement, the goal is to “bring back the mosaic” and bring forth issues affecting the world’s oceans.

The site contains a message from Patterson, photo galleries and links to media coverage, and will report on latest developments.

Supporter and Leucadia resident Scott Chatfield known for the keep760.org website during the controversial change to the new 442 area code is responsible for creating surfingmadonna.org. He came into the picture last year around the time Patterson was identified as the artist responsible for anonymously installing the mosaic just before Easter under the railroad bridge between Vulcan Avenue and Coast Highway 101.

The 10-foot-square art piece of stained glass and stone depicts Our Lady of Guadalupe on a surfboard with the words “Save the Ocean” down the side.

Scott Chatfield

Scott Chatfield

I was fascinated by it,” said Chatfield, an adjunct radio/television professor at San Diego City College. “I smiled because this was the controversy in Encinitas, as opposed to murders and all sorts of horrible other stuff.

I reached out to Patterson to show my appreciation for what had happened and its message, and I registered the site to help provide a platform,” he said.

Not everyone did appreciate the Surfing Madonna. City officials labeled the work graffiti because it did not go through the mandatory public-review process and they immediately began the process of having it removed.

Mark Patterson

Mark Patterson

It was then when Patterson came forward. He paid a $500 fine, and an additional amount for the costs of its removal last June and any damage caused.

In an effort to keep the Surfing Madonna in a public setting, Patterson and his legal team submitted the mosaic through the Encinitas public-review process and proposed it be displayed near Moonlight Beach, which is state-owned land and across the street from its original location.

The city’s Art Commission and City Council unanimously approved the location after an official poll determined the public approval for the site to be more than 90 percent. However, the state attorney general’s office turned down the request in March of this year saying it would violate the state’s “no preference” clause in the California Constitution.

That clause states that it is illegal for the state to display religious symbols on public land, as it demonstrates preference to one specific religion.

City officials could not be reached for comment by this story’s posting time.

Patterson, who is currently in Guatemala, has repeatedly said he was not inspired by a religious vision when he created the mosaic.

I know I speak for Mark in telling you that the message of the piece is simply and important ‘Save the Ocean,’” said Patterson’s attorney, Anton C. Gerschler.

While religious iconography is a part of the figure, it is not a religious mosaic,” Chatfield added. “It’s an ecologically based mosaic using an icon to portray the message.”

Even after the latest setback, the hope is still very much alive. Gerschler and Chatfield are inviting people to visit the site, to explore it and, if able to, donate to their relocation efforts, given that the intent is to do all this at no expense to taxpayers.

The Surfing Madonna was done with the purest intentions and hopefully that pure intention will carry her though to her final home,” Chatfield said.

A Facebook fan page was also recently created. It is under Surfing Madonna Oceans Project.

Ernesto Lopez is a San Diego freelance writer

 

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Surfing Madonna finds home on Web”

  1. Mark Patterson on April 13th, 2012 4:57 pm

    Hi, I am the guy who made the Surfing Madonna mosaic and I just wanted to correct one thing in Ernesto´s excellent article: it was always an *artistic* vision that inspired me, not a religious one. Just wanted to make that clear for everyone. Thanks, – mark patterson

  2. North Coast Current on April 14th, 2012 11:45 am

    Mark:

    Thank you for notifying us of this correction. The story has been updated. The North Coast Current regrets the error.

    Roman Koenig
    Editorial Director

The North Coast Current provides this Comments feature as a way for readers to share viewpoints on stories and issues. The Comments window is open for seven days after a story is published. The Current welcomes letters to the editor on older stories. To submit a letter online, go to www.northcoastcurrent.com/letters, or email them to letters@northcoastcurrent.com. The North Coast Current cares about fostering constructive, engaging community discussions. Therefore, the Current moderates comments. Editors reserve the right to accept or reject comments as they see fit. Comments must be civil and constructive regardless of political or religious leanings, and must be specific to the story being commented about. Comments containing threats will be rejected without exception, and may be forwarded to law enforcement depending on the nature and severity of the threat. As published material accessible to the public, the North Coast Current will occasionally republish posted comments in the Dialogue section of its printed editions. By commenting here, as with submitting letters to the editor, readers grant the right to publish comments in the North Coast Current print edition.

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