A special dedication ceremony was held Wednesday evening in Encinitas in honor of a popular, yet controversial, mosaic called the “Surfing Madonna.”
The colorful mosaic has had some trouble finding a permanent home San Diego’s North County.
However, on Wednesday, the art piece was celebrated at its newest home: Café Ipe, located in the 900 block of North Coast Highway 101 near Leucadia Boulevard.
The 10-by-10-foot mosaic first appeared under a railroad bridge on Encinitas Boulevard in April 2011. The piece created a buzz among onlookers who questioned its origin and the artist’s intentions.
Saying it was an unauthorized piece of public art, city officials threatened to strip it from the underpass in an act that would wind up destroying it.
It was at that point that the mosaic’s secretive artist, Mark Patterson, stepped forward to claim the Surfing Madonna as his own. He paid for the removal of the mosaic in June 2011 and began looking for a new place to reinstall her.
Patterson eventually settled on loaning it to the city of Encinitas, as long as the city agreed to display the mosaic on the corner of Encinitas Boulevard and Coast Highway 101, down the street from the original underpass location.
However, in March of this year, the State Parks Department rejected the proposed location of the mosaic under Highway 101, which is part of California property and part Encinitas property.
Both municipalities had a say in the location. Encinitas approved the location in January.
However, a spokesperson for the Parks Department said the rejection was advised by the State Attorney General's office, which issued an opinion saying the mosaic violated the California Constitution's no-preference clause.
The clause states that it is illegal to display a religious symbol on public land.
Today, however, the Surfing Madonna no longer has to “wall-surf” for a place to stay. Her current permanent home will be on the wall at the privately-owned café in Encinitas, where local fans can drop in to check her out.