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Surfing Madonna mosaic removed

June 25, 2011 at 4:00 AM

ENCINITAS, Calif., June 25 (UPI) -- The California artist behind a railroad bridge mosaic featuring Our Lady of Guadalupe riding a surfboard has agreed to pay for its removal.

Mark Patterson, 58, who installed the mosaic on the bridge in Encinitas shortly before Easter, said he will pay a $500 fine for what the city deemed to be graffiti and will reimburse the city $2,125 for the art consultant hired to remove the artwork without destroying it, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The mosaic, nicknamed the Surfing Madonna by locals, was deemed graffiti by city officials who said it posed a safety hazard for people wandering into traffic while attempting to take a good picture. However, they said they recognized the value of the artwork, which bore the message "Save the Ocean," and had it removed without damaging the panels or the backing.

Patterson said he is hoping to find a new home for the mosaic, this time with the proper permits from the city.

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