Our Lady of Peace

One writer talks about her experience with the Surfing Madonna.

I finally made the pilgrimage to see our “.” My husband spotted it during his morning run the day before Easter and snapped a photo with his cell phone. Ever since then, I’ve been meaning to get out there in person but the days—and the newspaper stories, and the YouTube videos, and the local news broadcasts—have added up. I’ve caught a few glimpses of it driving down Encinitas Boulevard, but I realized, when I finally parked at Cottonwood Creek Park and walked down to the train overpass, that you truly have to stop and soak it in to appreciate its beauty.

And it is beautiful, as anyone who’s seen it can attest: the richness of the colors, the textural composition from the different types of glass tile and stones, the detail of her face and hands. And it merits appreciation from a technical standpoint as well, for creating this elaborate and fragile work and then putting it up on public property while cars obliviously speed past.

Unlike other times I’ve driven by, there was no one else there when I came to see her. Which I actually liked, as I could contemplate the work in peace. Yes, even though I was there during the morning commute, the aura emanating from our Madonna was one of serenity. Passing from the bright heat into the cool shade of the overpass was almost like entering some mystical grotto, as the sounds of traffic died away and a stillness came over the place. It was just the two of us, and I couldn’t help feeling, just a little bit, that some small miracle had occurred. Something beautiful had sprung up, completely unexpected, in the plainest of places.

So here we are, with this surprise gift, and the question now is what to do with it. It’s produced national news coverage as well as “Surfing Madonna” T-shirts (available at First Street Art Gallery downtown)—plus lots of debate involving complex issues of defacement, public art guidelines, and religious content on public property. And while my head says it’s probably not best to set a precedent that allows people to put up any kind of art work anywhere, my heart says we should make an exception for our Madonna.

Yurt Can Be Yours

The former Yoga Swami yurt—which Encinitas officials said violated city code, sparking a passionate, and ultimately failed, effort to save it—is up for sale. Priced at $18,800, the 27-foot diameter yurt that used to be housed at the downtown Encinitas yoga studio includes 10 windows, five electric wall sconces, custom wood flooring, an outdoor deck and a gas fireplace. A lease option would be considered for any interested Encinitas resident. For more information, call 760-840-1189 or visit martinadams.com/yurt

Time for Prayer

The city and the San Dieguito Interfaith Ministerial Association host the 18th annual Mayor’s Community Prayer Breakfast on May 5. In addition to Mayor James Bond, members of the association and community and civic leaders from the area, guests include students from the world religion class at The Grauer School, who will talk about “Youthful Spirituality and Prayer.”

Run for JM

Saint John School in Encinitas sponsors its annual Cure JM Jog-a-thon on May 5 to raise money in the fight against juvenile dermatomyositis. Saint John’s Parker Hume is affected by the rare disease; the Cure JM Foundation was co-founded by his mother, Shari Hume, who also serves on the organization’s board of directors with her husband and Parker’s father, Tom Hume. To learn more about the cause or make a tax-deductible donation to the foundation, visit curejm.com.

Mom’s Day Out

The San Dieguito Art Guild holds its annual Mother’s Day Art and Garden Tour on May 7 and 8, showcasing coastal North County homes and artists. Tickets for the self-guided tour are $20 (free for children younger than 17 accompanied by their mother), and make sure to bring some extra money along to purchase a piece of art as a permanent thank you for Mom. For more information on the tour and where to purchase tickets, call 760-942-3636 or visit offtrackgallery.com.

Mike Andreen May 04, 2011 at 01:39 PM
That is the funny thing about 'art'; no matter what the perpetrators/artist bunch had in mind for all of us to take away from the experience of seeing this work; everyone brings their own life experience and spiritual condition to the hejira down to Hwy 101 and Encinitas Boule'. For me, raised by a railway embankment in Pico Rivera surrounded by Mejicanos, it is like a call from the sights and sounds of my childhood; soccer fields, smog incursions at 3:00 pm every day and La Posada in December; and it just might be a whisper from the deity that perhaps there IS something beyond this mortal coil. Encinitas IS special! Paramahansa's chakras ARE off Swami's Point! And this work becomes more powerful every day it continues to becalm so many people in search of peace, Yes, and love. Viva 'Our Lady of Encinitas'!
Charlie Wallace May 04, 2011 at 01:41 PM
This is nicely written. When you see it in person, you *really* can't miss the striking presence of the piece. Everyone needs to see it before they attempt to take it down, since it's likely to be destroyed if that happens, due to the strong epoxy used to put it up. I'm really struck by the sheer number of dilemmas raised by the Surfing Madonna: 1. Since it might fall on someone, some say we need to take it down; at the same time, it's glued so securely, it's sure not falling on anyone. 2. Since it promotes one religion, some say we need to take it down; at the same time, it's sacrilegious to depict the Madonna on a surfboard, so it might offend that religion. 3. It was posted illegally, so it's a case of 'defacing public property'- but at the same time, it's so beautiful, it takes your breath away. 4. Allowing it to stay carries risks of various lawsuits, so the 'responsible' decision is removal (resulting in destruction); but any local official that authorizes destruction will be clobbered in the next election. I'm hopeful that a special, unique ordinance can be made into law for our city to protect this unique artwork.
Robert Sizer May 04, 2011 at 07:30 PM
This unique installation has created an energy befitting the diverse, eclectic spiritual vibe of our city. Those pontificating the Surfing Madonna's removal should direct similar attention to the eradication of litter and cigarette butts besieging our sidewalks, streets, off ramps and highways. The Surfing Madonna is an Encinitas Chamber of Commerce dream come true, attracting positive media attention and visitors alike. Litter attracts nothing, while blighting our city and tarnishing it's "Community Curb Appeal." Perhaps the Surfing Madonna represents a hail Mary pass to "Save our Ocean" as the tiled message reads; and our city! No matter what God you pray to, I believe we can all agree that that the Surfing Madonna has drawn and inspired more positive attention than negative, and I, for an army-of-one, hope she has found a home in Encinitas.


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