Lawyer for "Surfing Madonna" artist negotiating with city - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Lawyer for "Surfing Madonna" artist negotiating with city

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In this May 27, 2011 photo, Anthea Beletsis, right, of Encinitas, Calif., and Jules Itzkoff, of Cincinatti, Ohio, look at an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe riding a surfboard that hangs under a train bridge in Encinitas, Calif. In this May 27, 2011 photo, Anthea Beletsis, right, of Encinitas, Calif., and Jules Itzkoff, of Cincinatti, Ohio, look at an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe riding a surfboard that hangs under a train bridge in Encinitas, Calif.
Art restorer Jessi Taylor. of Los Angeles, climbs a ladder while working to test the possibility of removing the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe riding a surfboard. Art restorer Jessi Taylor. of Los Angeles, climbs a ladder while working to test the possibility of removing the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe riding a surfboard.

ENCINITAS (AP/CBS 8) - The Encinitas City Council says the lawyer for the artist who created the "Surfing Madonna" mosaic has come forward to negotiate with the city.

The artist is long-time Encinitas resident Mark Patterson, according to attorney Anton Gerschler.

In a letter from Gerschler to city officials, the lawyer writes that the installation can be removed safely without causing any permanent damage.  He adds that if the city does not decide to decree the creation a piece of "public art,"  Patterson will cooperate fully with the city to remove it and re-locate it to a suitable location.

The 10'-10' mosaic of a surfing Madonna that is stuck to a wall under a train bridge in the California beach city of Encinitas is technically graffiti under the law.

But her beauty is drawing a mass following, and city officials have spent thousands hiring an art agency to see about removing her without causing damage.

The Los Angeles-based art conservation agency, Sculpture Conservation Studio, on Tuesday began testing ways to safely remove the 10-by-10-foot rock and glass mosaic. But it concluded in a recent report that there's no better spot for the Surfing Madonna than under the overpass, protected from the sun and rain.

The  rock and glass mosaic poses an interesting dilemma over whether a city should spend lots of money to get rid of artwork that is illegal but well done and actually beautifies a place.

Deciding what is graffiti is a growing debate worldwide with guerrilla artists gaining respect in established art circles. A number of museums have brought the street art indoors for prestigious exhibits in recent years, while pieces of illegal art snatched up by dealers have been fetching hefty sums.

Several local businesses have stepped forward to say they would gladly house the Surfing Madonna on their property, and provide the public ready access.

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