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Surfing Madonna Finds Permanent Home on Coast Highway in Leucadia

The popular mosaic is now displayed on a wall between Café Ipé and Surfy Surfy.

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."

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Encinitas resident June 27, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Welcome back Surfing Madonna. Goodbye city council come voting time.
Encinitas resident June 27, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Cardiff Kook? I don’t think so. The Surfing Madonna is art. Save the ocean is not a town joke.
Sarah Riccitelli June 27, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Hooray! Art makes a comeback against P.C. bureaucracy!:)
Diane Y. Welch June 27, 2012 at 11:08 PM
I agree that the Surfing Madonna is not aligned with the Cardiff Kook. People ridicule the latter, but seem to be inspired by the former.
Lynn Marr June 30, 2012 at 08:42 PM
We rode our bikes down and looked at "Our Lady of Save the Ocean" today. I hope the tree branches might be trimmed back, a little, so it's more visible from the sidewalk. However, the shade might preserve the color of the tiles longer. I truly appreciate Mark Patterson's creative inspiration, his message. I agree with the previous poster: welcome back to a beautiful piece of art, good riddance to Mayor Stocks, come election time. Stocks acted as though it was all about his being in "control," our respecting his corrupt authority. He never allowed a hearing to see if the art could stay where it was originally installed, after Mark Patterson came forward, paid the fines and paid for the bogus "expert" consultants who falsely opined the piece COULDN'T BE SAFELY MOVED. Wrong again, Mr. Stocks.

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