The artist behind the “Surfing Madonna” mosaic mural struck an agreement with the city of Encinitas Tuesday to pay a fine and the cost of removing the piece, which could total more than $7,000.

In exchange, artist Mark Patterson will retain ownership of the mural. On a Facebook page launched in support of the mural, his attorney, Anton Gerschler, said Patterson has pledged to find another place in Encinitas.

The agreement says Patterson will pay a $500 fine to the city, reimburse the city the $2,125 it paid an Los Angeles group to study removing the piece and pay for the cost of taking it down intact, which the group estimated to cost more than $5,000, the Union-Tribune reported.

Patterson quit his tech job, went to Italy to study mosaic-making and lived off his savings for nine months while he finished the mosaic and, dressed as a construction worker, installed it in broad daylight on Earth Day in April. His identity was a mystery for two months until the L.A. group found part of his name inscribed atop the mural.

On KPBS yesterday, Encinitas City Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan spoke about the city’s approach to the piece of art, which she repeatedly called “a gift.”

“There is no desire to be punitive, but, you know, this was done without permission,” she said.

The piece has fired up hordes of supporters, some of which have offered to help Patterson raise the funds to take down the mural, others of which have shown up in costume to support the piece staying on the train bridge it was installed on. The kerfuffle has stoked passionate debate locally about when graffiti becomes art and debate over cities applying public process laws consistently.

In an interview from our news partners at NBC San Diego, Patterson said the costs are worth it to keep his message of saving the oceans intact:

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A Solana Beach couple registered their interest in providing a home for the piece in the Del Mar Times this morning.

What do you think of this outcome? Do you think Patterson should be on the hook for the money the city spent before he came forward? Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page.

I am the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with me on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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