Sometimes the shadow space where art and crime overlap is not money, not fame, but a vision. At least this is what Mark Patterson contends. His crime of installing the Surfing Madonna- a glass mosaic- under a train overpass in Encinitas was not motivated by senility or the search for notoriety or financial gain. It was a vision that came to him in the midst of what else but “boredom.”
“I think you get to a certain age and you start to decide, ‘Is this really how I want to spend my time?’ And that answer came back, no,” Patterson said. “I was being paid to do something that I was good at, but I wasn’t particularly in love with.” Mark Patterson was a software engineer at Microsoft and had been for some years. His boredom allowed him to be open to the vision of a surfing Madonna and he signed up for an Italian school of the ancient art of mosaics. When he returned to Encinitas, he spotted the space and thought the industrial forgotten concrete wall a perfect frame for his vision. He intended the art to be an anonymous gift to the city of Encinitas.
But the city called his art work vandalism and paid an art consultant to figure out how to remove it. When it looked like the city would destroy the piece if it was the only way to take it down, Mark Patterson came forward and paid the $500 fine for graffiti and the $6000 to have the piece moved. Mark Patterson knew he was breaking the law to follow his vision. And he knew he was putting an end to the boredom of his quiet computer programming life. It was what he had to do.
Mix an artistic vision, some boredom and a willingness to learn and you may have yourself a crime. The Surfing Madonna is now on display in downtown Leucadia at Café Ipe. It’s legal.