Story updated June 26 at 12:15 p.m.
It’s official: the Surfing Madonna has finally found a permanent home.
Monday the popular mosaic was installed on a wall between Café Ipé and Surfy Surfy.
"I'm really happy with the location," artist Mark Patterson told Patch Tuesday morning. Finding that location for the Surfing Madonna has been a long and at times controversial search.
The artwork, formally titled Save the Ocean, first appeared under a train overpass off Coast Highway . The piece— which depicts Our Lady of Guadalupe surfing and has “Save the Ocean” written down the side—won the hearts of locals instantly. Though it was wildly popular, the because he never got permission to install it and was therefore considered graffiti. That decision didn’t sit well with many Surfing Madonna fans who felt the artwork should have stayed put.
A few months ago Patterson to put the Surfing Madonna near the entrance of Moonlight Beach, on a piece of property that is owned by the state but managed by the city. The , but because they felt the artwork had religious undertones due to the depiction of Our Lady of Guadalupe and should therefore not be on public property—another decision that was met with grumblings throughout the community.
The Surfing Madonna has since sat in storage, though it was far from forgotten. In fact, earlier this month another local artist paid homage to the Surfing Madonna when which is displayed just down the street from Café Ipé.
Patterson said he was "thrilled" to have found a permanent home for his artwork, and seemingly so is the community, as evidenced by the crowds of locals who gathered in front of it Tuesday morning to admire it and snap photos.
"This rocks," Patterson said, smiling and standing just a few feet from the onlookers. Ralph Kruse, an Encinitas resident of 15 years who said he's "been a fan from day one," approached Patterson and asked for an autograph. Kruse said he had a scrapbook with news clippings about the Surfing Madonna at home, and Patterson's autograph would be kept there.
"I'm really not used to this sort of attention, but I'm so grateful for the community support," Patterson said shortly after posing for photos in front of the artwork with several locals.
Having the Surfing Madonna back in Leucadia is also paramount, added Patterson, who is a longtime Leucadia resident.
"The artwork was created in Leucadia and it was even originally installed on the Leucadia side of the bridge," he said. "It belongs here."
Ann Julian-Fagergren, a Leucadia resident of 13 years, agrees.
"Leucadia is the artsy side of town, so it only makes sense," she said. "This is a cooperative community where people still crank-out artwork in their back yard. We all want the Surfing Madonna here."
“The Surfing Madonna is the new Leucadian icon,” added Cindy Webb, another Leucadia resident. "She is going to be our Cardiff Kook."
Patterson said he hopes all those fans will take the artwork's main message to heart: "The ocean needs to be saved. That's the main point."