Wednesday, May 4, 2011

There's something about Mary

Encinitas has spoken. We love the Surfing Guadalupe.

Patch's Anastacia Grenda adds her voice to the heavenly choir:
I finally made the pilgrimage to see our “Surfing Madonna.” 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.

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