The fate of the locally adored “Surfing Madonna” has finally been sealed as the Encinitas City Council unanimously voted for her removal Wednesday night.
The city, however, would like to see the art—which shows Our Lady of Guadalupe on a surfboard and reads “Save the Ocean”—go in one piece. In an effort to keep the Madonna intact, the council agreed to spend $2,000 of taxpayer money for a Los Angeles-based art conservancy firm to review the piece and determine how it can be removed without damage.
The council heard from nine speakers during the regularly scheduled meeting. While most supported the art, two speakers addressed the council urging for its removal. Besides its illegal installment, the Madonna has also been catching heat for its religious theme, which some residents have found particularly offensive.
The 10-foot-square stained-glass mosaic was installed below the railroad overpass on Encinitas Boulevard just before Easter and has since inspired praise and heated discussion among locals. The artist responsible for the piece is still a mystery.
Because the art was unauthorized by the city, it is considered defacement of public property. Furthermore, the council argued that letting it stay in place could set a precedent for graffiti and leave the city susceptible to lawsuits from potential taggers.
Just because she will not be gracing Encinitas Boulevard does not mean the Surfing Madonna is gone for good, however. Several local businesses have offered to display the mosaic on their private property. Officials from both the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association and Leucadia 101 MainStreet Association also suggested finding a home for the art in their communities.