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Surfing Madonna Was a Vision and a Gift 2020

| October 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
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Surfing Madonna Was a Vision and a Gift

We’re inspired and a bit awed by the story of Mark Patterson, who yesterday stepped forward as the creator of the “Surfing Madonna” mosaic that appeared under a railroad overpass in Encinitas on Good Friday of this year.  The colorful glass tile work depicts a wave-riding Virgin of Guadalupe with the message “Save the Ocean” on one side.

The mural was boldly installed in broad daylight on Encinitas Boulevard by a crew of orange-vested, hard-hat wearing faux construction workers. Controversy ensued as the work gained notice and popularity in the community, while city officials dithered about removing the illegal installation. A team of art conservationists sent to explore how the work might be taken down intact found that the installers had used not just epoxy but a sophisticated system of bolts, designed to make removal all but impossible.

Meanwhile the artist remained unknown until Wednesday–and this where the story moves beyond coolness to something approaching the sublime. Fifty-eight-year-old Mark Patterson is a gray-haired, soft-spoken man who just doesn’t quite fit the guerrilla artist profile. In an interview with a local TV news channel, Patterson revealed that everything about the project,  including the message and location, first  came to him as a vision in 2005.  By 2010 Patterson (who is not Catholic) was unable to resist the calling. So he left his job at Microsoft, entered a mosaic art school in Italy, and spent the next nine months completing the Surfing Madonna–not knowing if it would last a day once installed.

Patterson views the piece as his gift to the community. “This is a message that the community needed to hear,” Patterson said. “The life of our planet is at stake.”

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Surfing Madonna Was a Vision and a Gift

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