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Save the Ocean
Laretta Small's "Friends or Foes" portrait won first place in last year's "Save the Ocean" juried art show. Photo courtesy of the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project.
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‘Save the Ocean’ art exhibit to return

ESCONDIDO — The Surfing Madonna Oceans Project is inviting artists and poets from across the state to share their work in a juried show that demonstrates both the wonders and fragility of the ocean.

Jurors will select more than 60 artists from throughout California to showcase environmentally themed artwork in the “Save the Ocean” exhibit in the Escondido Municipal Gallery throughout October. The show will feature all mediums of wall art, including painting, fabric, collage, assemblage and photography.

The jurors, who are all Surfing Madonna Oceans Project team members, include President Cathy Carey, Vice President Mike Redman and Program Administrator Cheryl Ehlers.

Local artist Mark Patterson and Robert Nichols formed the nonprofit a decade ago to promote artistic expression alongside environmental awareness of the ocean. The project’s name is inspired by Patterson’s “Surfing Madonna” mosaic installed in 2011 in Encinitas, which depicts the Virgen de Guadalupe surfing with the phrase “SAVE THE OCEAN” next to her.

This will be the third year the project has sponsored the “Save the Ocean” exhibit.

Artist Laretta Small’s “Friends or Foes” piece took home last year’s first place prize. The portrait shows a sea turtle in the foreground and divers hovering in the background.

“It is a beautiful painting with lovely, serene turquoises and blues, and yet it asks the question, ‘Are people helping or hurting the ocean?’” Carey said. “I think this is an important question because everyone understands the things that are obviously damaging the aquatic world, but overuse by people, snorkelers and divers and debris left by visitors to the beach can cause big problems for the wildlife that calls that environment home. Art is a way to let people come to their own thoughtful conclusions.”

A reception on Oct. 14 at the gallery from 4 to 6 p.m. will include art and poetry awards and poetry readings. Twelve artists will be awarded cash prizes altogether totaling $1,450.

Artists may enter up to three entries for $30. All work must be original without any size limits.Twelve artists will be awarded cash prizes altogether totaling $1,450.

Poets may enter as many poems as they like for $10 each entry. Poets will be recognized with $450 in cash for three awards.

Submissions will be accepted until Sept. 17. Artists and poets who are selected will be notified on Sept. 25.

Artwork needs to be delivered to Escondido Municipal Gallery by Oct. 10 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

For more information, visit

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