'Surfing Madonna' artist at work on new project

SAN DIEGO - The artist behind the controversial Surfing Madonna mosaic in Encinitas is returning with a second piece of art.

Mark Patterson said his new work will be placed somewhere in North County, but he's keeping the exact location a secret. On Friday, he provided 10News a sneak peek at the art.

Patterson quit his job of almost 20 years at Microsoft, and delved into a project that got worldwide attention, the Surfing Madonna, which appeared on an Encinitas train underpass in 2011. Some loved the 10-by-10 mosaic, while others called it sacrilegious.

Regardless of the opinion, Patterson believes he got his message about the declining health of our oceans across.

“Really, part of the goal of the Surfing Madonna Ocean's Project is to wake people up to realize that there's something seriously wrong going on, and that they need to do something,” Patterson said. “And art is a way of communicating that. I'm very emotional about it. Through art it can change things, it can inspire people to make a change.”  

Now -- three years to the weekend he covertly installed and unveiled the Madonna -- he is well into his second piece. His inspiration is our coastal community.

“There's the mystery of the ocean lying right in front of us,” Patterson said. “And one of the things we want to make sure of is that the mystery continues to be healthy.”

Patterson is careful to keep a certain mystery about this new piece. He is not revealing details about where it will be installed, and there is no rendering. The big picture is all in his head.

“You have a vision, you have an idea, and as you start the work, more ideas come. What you really want to have is that sense of inspiration. Every single time that I forced myself to work, I had to tear it out because I would look at it and go ‘oh that's ugly.’”

Those ideas aren't taking shape in a fancy art studio but rather, in the middle of a friend's garage.

The Surfing Madonna, is now located across the street from her original location on Encinitas Boulevard, near South Coast Highway 101. The mosaic is surrounded by a garden, a fountain and several brick pavers.

Bob Nichols with the “Surfing Madonna Ocean’s Project” is organizing a project to sell 1,200 of those brick pavers that can be customized with names or messages. The goal is to raise more than $100,000 that the group will donate to several community projects. If you would like more information about it you can contact Nichols at SurfingMadonna.org.

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