Where: Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas, California
When: June 1, 2011
The Surfing Madonna is a piece of guerrilla street art that some artists posing as construction workers put up in broad daylight in April. After the first story appeared in the paper, its fame spread quickly. Hundreds of people have made the trip to the underside of the railroad bridge to see it.
Trouble is, the mural ain't exactly legal. The Surfing Madonna was erected without permission on public property. And it's pretty clearly a religious image, a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. According to that first story in The San Diego Union-Tribune, the guy on the nose of the surfboard is St. Juan Diego, who according to legend saw the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531.
The folks at Encinitas City Hall are trying to figure out a way to take down the Surfing Madonna without wrecking it. Meanwhile, Our Lady of the Underpass has Twitter and Facebook accounts, set up by somebody who wants to see the mosaic stay in place.
Dani and I had seen the photos, but we were blown away when we went to look at the Surfing Madonna yesterday. A ton of work went into it, and the details are extraordinary.
I understand the bind the city officials are in, but I'd love to see them find a way to save the Surfing Madonna. It's beautiful, it's funny, and it fits in with San Diego's culture. It'd be a shame to see it ruined.
Images and text ©2005-2012 Mark A. Dodge Medlin