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Officials want surfing Madonna mosaic gone

May 20, 2011 at 4:30 AM

ENCINITAS, Calif., May 20 (UPI) -- Officials in a California city said they are researching a way to remove a stained-glass mosaic of a surfing Madonna without damaging the piece.

The Encinitas City Council unanimously agreed the unauthorized mosaic, installed by a group of artists under a train bridge on Encinitas Boulevard just before Easter, must come down, and they voted to allot $2,000 for an arts conservation agency to investigate ways to remove the art without damaging it, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Thursday.

The mosaic depicts Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary, riding a surfboard alongside the words "Save the Ocean."

Officials said the artists, who were disguised as construction workers when they installed the piece, did not go through the city's required public review process and the work is considered graffiti under local laws.

Council members said they liked the artwork but leaving it in place would set a bad precedent by giving taggers in legal trouble a potential defense.

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