Leucadia resident Mark Patterson quit his job at Microsoft last summer, enrolled in a mosaic school in Italy and created the so-called Surfing Madonna as a gift for his community. His identity was supposed to be kept a secret forever- but he made one mistake. Mari Payton reports. (Published Friday, Jun 10, 2011)
He said it was an idea that came to him more than five years ago. But it wasn't until last summer, Mark Patterson, the mastermind behind Encinitas' famous Surfing Madonna mosaic, quit his job at Microsoft.
He enrolled in a mosaic school in Italy and devoted the next nine months to making his "vision" a reality.
“I really wanted to give something to my community, something that would be beautiful. At least beautiful to me,” he said.
A Leucadia resident since 1983, Patterson, 58, lived a low-key life. That all changed when his secret became public.
“The public reaction has been overwhelming,” he admitted.
Now he's an internationally famous artist because of his Surfing Madonna piece.
Patterson said, “I didn't expect it to become viral, to become an international thing that people are aware of.”
The mosaic appeared mysteriously the afternoon of April 22nd. Patterson dressed as a construction worker and attached it to a concrete wall.
But he didn't do it alone. His long-time friend Bob Nichols said, “We thought it was going to take a half hour and it took considerably longer.”
Nichols was the only person that knew Patterson's secret and he intended to keep it that way.
“As I created the mosaic it was intended as a gift,” Patterson said, “I really wanted no visibility.”
But his own mistake, forced him to come forward.
“I had written my name on one of the backboards. I never stopped to think someone would climb a ladder and look at it.”
“It will live on somewhere, but I wish the city would accept it," Patterson said. "They are going to have to decide what to do next.”
If the city decides to take the piece down, Patterson say he wants to help - to make sure it's done correctly. He even offered to help pay for the mosaic's relocation.
The Encinitas City Council unanimously voted recently to spend up to $2,000 for a Los Angeles-based art conservation firm to test various removal techniques.
The city has already paid $2,000 to a Los Angeles art studio to study the piece.
Should Patterson pay for the upkeep of the mosaic? Or should he take it down and move it somewhere else? Let us know what you think. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.