The “Save the Ocean” mosaic – more popularly known as “The Surfing Madonna” – is once again on public display after a year-long hiatus.
The mosaic may be seen on the wall of Café Ipe, 970 North Coast Highway, Leucadia, CA 92024.
The non-profit Surfing Madonna Oceans Project Board gives special thanks to Anton Gerschler, an attorney based in Leucadia, and to the Paul Hastings law firm for their untiring pro bono support in making this possible.
Special thanks also to long-time Encinitas local Keith Harrison and his team, together with Café Ipe owner Dave Thomas and Surfy Surfy owner JP St. Pierre for giving the “Save the Ocean” mosaic a wonderful new home.
Mark’s initial connection with the Virgin of Guadelupe started with a 2000 pocket calendar depicting her image that he got from Juanita’s, a local taco shop in Encinitas. Eventually that image resurfaced as a “surfing Madonna” with the environmental message of “Save the Ocean” in his sketchbook in 2005, again in 2008, and 2009.
In 2010, while on vacation, Mark ended up studying mosaics at a school in Italy. He came home with the face of the Virgin completed. He quit his job at Microsoft, and spent the next nine months completing the mosaic.
The Surfing Madonna gained international notoriety after it was first installed anonymously under the Encinitas Blvd. train bridge by Mark Patterson and Robert Nichols at 2pm on April 22, 2011, when Good Friday and Earth Day coincided on the same day.
Thousands flocked to see the art before the City Council ordered it removed as graffiti. The City hired a conservation team to determine removal. During their examination of the mosaic, they discovered part of Mark Patterson’s name underneath the dark blue glass.
Shortly thereafter Mark and Robert were “outed”. Mark paid the City’s fine and the cost of removal, which was expertly done by Tekton Master Builders of Encinitas on the night of June 22, 2011. The mosaic has been in storage for the last year, until now.