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What Will Become Of The Surfing Madonna?

Aired 6/21/11 on KPBS Midday Edition.

The Encinitas City Council says the Surfing Madonna will get a new home. We'll find out about the agreement to remove the mosaic which became an overnight landmark.

The Surfing Madonna in Encinitas
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Above: The Surfing Madonna in Encinitas

Agreemant Reached On Removal Of 'The Surfing Madonna'

Under the terms of the agreement reached in negotiations last week "Surfing Madonna" artist, Mark Patterson will:

Remove the mosaic as soon as reasonably possible on a City-issued permit at his cost.

If necessary, pay for a safety inspection of the bridge underpass at his cost.

Pay for any repairs to the bridge underpass directly caused by the placement or removal of the mosaic.

Reimburse the City $2,125 for the cost of the expert, Sculpture Conservation Studio, Inc., hired to evaluate how to remove the art work without damaging it.

Pay an administrative fine of $500 to the City.

Refrain from placing any works of art on public property without City authorization.

The City has acknowledged that Mr. Patterson retains ownership of the mosaic and acknowledges the artist’s preference to re-locate the “Save The Ocean” mosaic (“The Surfing Madonna”) to a new location within Encinitas.

Source: Anton C. Gerschler, attorney for Mark Patterson

We begin with a story that has become a sensation in San Diego. The fate of the Surfing Madonna. Artist Mark Patterson and Encinitas city officials have been negotiating about the location of the mosaic for days.

Guest

Encinitas Council Member Maggie Houlihan

Read Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: It's Tuesday, June 21st. Ahead on today's show, the Sweetwater high school district dismisses its controversial superintendent. San Diego County prosecutors warn about the resurgence of the granny scam. And a look ahead to fire season here in San Diego. We begin with a story that has become a sensation in San Diego. The fate of the surfing madonna. Artist mark Patterson in the city of Encinitas have been negotiating about the location of the mosaic for days. Joining us now is Encinitas city council member, Maggie Houlihan. Ms. Houlihan, thanks for joining.

HOULIHAN: And thank you for having me to discuss this very important issue to on our residents here in Encinitas.

CAVANAUGH: Now I've heard that Encinitas is within empties, perhaps business of releasing news with an agreement on the surfing madonna. What could you tell us about that agreement?

HOULIHAN: What I can tell you is our attorneys, his attorney and the city's attorney, have been hammering out the details. I believe it is ready to be released. We're just waiting for his attorney. But a couple things I can tell you. It is a gift to the citizens of Encinitas. The artist made that abundantly clear, and it will remain in Encinitas. And I think it's very, very exciting that right off the top is relieving a lot of people's concerns. There's been a lot of offers. But it will be remaining here in Encinitas as a gift to this community.

CAVANAUGH: What are the chances that it's gonna remain where it is in Encinitas?

HOULIHAN: I think all along, we talked about that. Even folks who want to preserve it understand that that particular location creates its own set of problems. Hang the traffic problem. So I have never expected that it would remain where it is. But I think what will happen is a mutually agreeable location will be found. And as you know, we have had many folks in the community, including a committee of community groups, that are ready, willing, and able to raise money to help with the move, to offer private property or otherwise, for its location, and we're gonna remain optimistic. I haven't seen the press release yet. I don't know all the details. But I do know in talking to Anton, who is the artist's attorney, that this much is absolute for sure.

CAVANAUGH: Do you know when the removal of the mosaic may begin from under the train track on Encinitas Boulevard?

HOULIHAN: I don't know. But I expect things to be happening within -- very soon.

CAVANAUGH: Now, how do these negotiations go? I know at first Encinitas was talking about filing charges against mark Patterson. And then the tone seemed to shift as the popularity of this mosaic really increased.

HOULIHAN: I will tell you, I would guess about 99.9% of the population is very supportive of the madonna. Because they see it as much more than a religious icon. It's a symbol of hope, compassion, love, and the save the ocean theme has just spoken to people. So I think you've heard some of the -- some under tones of, oh, this wasn't done right, this or that. I have every confidence that the agreement, this little joint agreement, will be -- will indicate that there is no desire to be punitive. But this was done without permission. So we have a process to do things with permission. And there's also some consequences when something is done without permission. But I think the agreement as we will see shortly will show since we have two attorneys, , will show that the end result -- there's no intention for it to be punitive but to honor people's love of and concern about the fate of the Surfing Madonna.

CAVANAUGH: One of the things I think that impressed you in these negotiations was the fact that the artist, Mark Patterson, you say is true to his word.

HOULIHAN: What I mean by that is he didn't come forward, nobody knew who he was, he didn't come forward until the report said -- because the consultants, the conservators from LA. Until we -- we know there's both, but we don't know how many boths. So we're concerned it can't be removed without damage. He came forward at that time. Some people speculated it was just a get rich scheme to get famous. But when he stepped forward, he has had offers, extraordinary offers to buy this. And he said no, this is a gift to the community. That's what it was. He is the person he said he was and has been very willing to work so this does remain a gift to the community. And I have a little quote, it I could --

CAVANAUGH: Please.

HOULIHAN: It's written by Randall McFarland who is an Encinitas resident. "What brave hearts we have living amongst us in Encinitas. I applaud Mark Patterson's inspired efforts to remind us that Encinitas is a powerful spiritual vortex. Without wanting recognition, he has given us an opportunity to go beyond the letter of the law and receive this gift of the heart." That's pretty much what people are saying.

CAVANAUGH: My last question to you mirrors that. This has become an over night landmark in Encinitas. This suffering madonna mosaic. Whatever this agreement you reached is, and we're going to be able to read the agreement, apparently, one minutes.

HOULIHAN: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: Do you think people will be satisfied with this resolution?

HOULIHAN: I believe so. I have every confidence because I think most people realize -- so many people have said people forget that they're standing in the street when they step back to focus their camera. People understand that the process wasn't follow indeed that location, and that would not have been selected in a normal process. I think folks' biggest concern is that it remain available for public viewing regardless of where it's moved. And that it remain in Encinitas. And I think people will be very happy. That was my goal all along. And I will it will become even more cherished, because the artist said it was a gift. I have no interest in auctioning it off to the highest bidder. To me that adds so much integrity to the whole thing.

CAVANAUGH: If this agreement is released within this hour, we will certainly bring that news to our viewers when we get a copy of that agreement. And I want to thank you so much. I've been speaking with Encinitas City Council member Maggie Houlihan. Thanks for speaking with us.

HOULIHAN: You're so welcome. And thanks for your interest in this issue.

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