Sanctioned Street Art Rubric: Surfing Madonna

What happens when vandalism becomes a positive fixture in the community? What happens when the community fights to keep vandalism and when does vandalism become sanctioned art?

The Surfing Modanna, a remarkable mosaic installed on the City of Encinitas property by artists dressed up as construction workers, has ignited a heated debate. City officials have remarked that the piece, though impressive, falls into the category of vandalism and will most likely be removed. According to the definition, they are right, but maybe it is time to extract street art from that category by measuring it by its aesthetic artistry, community acceptance, level of offensiveness, relevance to location, public safety and cost of potential removal.

Carlsbadcrawl.com proposes the idea of a Sanctioned Street Art Rubric, a detailed grading system that scores a piece of street art in 6 different categories. Each category is worth 10 points. The sum of all category scores (60 point max) will decide whether the piece is sanctioned street art or vandalism, ultimately advising the city/property owner on the future of the piece. A score of 50 or higher deems it as sanctioned street art.

The Sanctioned Street Art Rubric

1. Aesthetic Artistry – The level of skill in the chosen street art medium. To earn a high score, the piece must exhibit dedication to detail, invested time and thought, mastering of tools and materials and attention to composition and color.

2. Community Acceptance – The acceptance by those who live and visit the area the piece of art is placed in. A high score will only be achieved if the community approves of the art and discloses pleasure in seeing it each day. This is measured through a number of media outlet discussions including newspaper, news television, websites, blogs and on site interviews.

3. Level of Offensiveness – The amount of offended local and visiting members of the community. This includes any negative reaction stemming from the piece’s content. It is scored with all moral, religious, racial, political and social economical beliefs in mind.

4. Relevance to Location – The natural blending of the piece of art into the environment. This includes visually as well as conceptually. A high score will result in a natural fit to the eye and a message that pertains to the feel of the community.

5. Public Safety – The potential harm or level of distraction added to the community due to the piece of art. This includes unsafe installation, potential traffic interference due to material surface or glare, traffic congestion due to onlookers and possible collapsing of the piece. Weather conditions common in the area are also considered.

6. Cost of Removal – The cost incurred by the property owner or city due to the removal of a sub score piece of street art. This includes manpower and potential repair to the surface or environment that the art is place on/in. A high score in this category will result in a piece with easy removal. A low score may be increased with an artist agreement to personally remove art or pay for the removal if deemed vandalism.

The Surfing Madonna

1. Aesthetic Artistry 10
The level of skill of the mosaic is well beyond the average mosaic skill set. Each piece fits perfectly and the varying mosaic piece size, color and texture works very harmoniously. The artist invested a large amount of time in the planning and creation of this piece. An obvious perfect score.

2. Community Acceptance  8.2
Although there is strong support to keep the piece of art, there has also been a decent amount of opinions who call for its removal. The City of Encinitas has deemed it vandalism and stress that leaving it up would condone the act of vandalizing while potentially encouraging more. Additional reactions have also considered it vandalism and others have problems with it reference to religion in a public environment.

3. Level of Offensiveness 9.1
The piece calls to “Save the Ocean” which is agreed by all to be a positive an unoffensive declaration. The piece of art lacks any offensive language, pornography and carnal imagery. The religious references in the piece may offend those with varying religious views. Because this is in a public space on city property, the piece receives the above score.

4. Relevance to Location 9.7
Encinitas is known for its support of art and its love for the ocean and the surfing culture. The surfing content of the piece works well with the vibe of the city and is placed at the perfect location near the entrance of Moonlight Beach. Though the piece is bright, it is slightly muted by the surrounding pillars preventing it from becoming too overwhelming.

5. Public Safety 8.8
The piece is extremely visible and placed directly on a main road with multiple cars stopping and congesting traffic to take photos. The space between the piece and the street is the width of a sidewalk making it potentially dangerous if a crowd gathers. The piece is secured to the wall with no chance of detaching and falling. The glossy sections of the piece may create glare, but it doesn’t seem to be any problem for passing cars.

6. Cost of Removal 5
The piece is permanently attached to the wall without any easy removal option. In order to remove the piece, a chiseling tactic would result in a very tedious and time consuming process and the piece would be destroyed. Because the piece is on city property, the city would be responsible for the cost of removal. To remove the piece while preserving the art, it would have to be cut out of the wall resulting in the need of a new wall. The score can be increased if the artist, or someone on behalf of the artist, offers to cover the cost of removal and repair.


TOTAL SCORE: 50.7

50-60 = Sanctioned Street Art
0-49 = Vandalism

The Surfing Madonna = Sanctioned Street Art

Click HERE for the previous article “Buffing Vandalism From Street Art”

4 Responses to “Sanctioned Street Art Rubric: Surfing Madonna”


  1. 1 Dana Ralston May 6th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    This is a great way to resolve this issue. I would love to see art of this callabor popping up all over Encinitas. Creativity should be promoted and our town would be even more unique and special. Lets put this in the law books!

  2. 2 jimshoez May 16th, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Art. Sadly, it was vandalized this weekend.

  3. 3 Hosein mohamadi Jun 16th, 2011 at 12:20 am

    Hey that sounds cool. Maybe I should paint a few Muslim symbols on the other side. Anyone oppose to that? Or what if it was done already instead of that?

  4. 4 John Jul 6th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Muslim symbols are artistic, no problem with that. Okay with you to put Mohammad playing basketball?

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