The image below has become something of a tourist attraction in southern California:
But its days may be numbered:
City-hired consultants indicated in a rough draft report Wednesday that they would like to test heat, chemical and mechanical methods of removing an unauthorized surfing Madonna mosaic.
But the issue of what to do with the roughly 10-by-10-foot rogue public art project on Encinitas Boulevard may go next to the City Council.
During Wednesday night’s council meeting, Councilwoman Teresa Barth asked for a discussion of the art work to be placed on a future agenda.
“I couldn’t agree more,” said Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan, who wore a “save the mosaic” T-shirt during the meeting.
Mayor James Bond said he too felt it was time for the council to take a stand on the issue, commenting, “That’s got to come (before us).”
A secretive crew posing as construction workers installed the colorful mosaic just before the Easter holiday. The unknown workers affixed the six-paneled mosaic to a railroad bridge support along Encinitas Boulevard, just west of the Vulcan Avenue intersection.
North County Transit District owns the railroad bridge, but the support area falls within land that the city of Encinitas maintains under a decades-old property management agreement with the transit district.
City staff members have asked a private art consulting team to investigate whether the mosaic can be easily removed from the support structure without harm. The city received a draft version of the consultants’ assessment Wednesday afternoon, but sent it back for some revisions, Assistant City Manager Richard Phillips said in an interview after Wednesday night’s council meeting.
The consultants asked the city Wednesday to let them test various removal techniques on the mosaic before they arrive at a conclusion about whether it can come down without significant harm, he said. They would like to try heat and chemicals, as well as using a narrow blade saw, Phillips said.
Council members said Wednesday that they would like the city to do all it can to keep the piece intact. Houlihan, who brought postcards of the city’s newest artistic attraction to City Hall Wednesday night, said, “People love it. It’s bringing people here.”