La Jolla’s Mary, Star of the Sea landmark mural will get a facelift

By Dave Schwab

Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church’s high-profile mosaic mural above the main entrance is being restored at an estimated $65,800 cost in a three-month project which originally was set to start Aug. 16 but has now been delayed until Aug. 22.

After 25 years of exposure to salt air, sunshine and other environmental factors, the fresco painting by Mexican master Alfredo Ramos Martinez has had irreparable damage caused to its original pigments.

“It was made with mosaic glass in three pieces in Italy, shipped here and installed above the (church) doors,” said Rev. James E. Rafferty, pastor of Mary Star of the Sea. “It will be restored to its original beauty.”

The church is seeking contributions for the effort.

Performing the work is Dan Tarnoveanu of Renaissance Art, Restoration & Architecture LLC, an award-winning historic preservation firm he founded in 1989. Tanoveanu has 30 years of hands-on experience in historic preservation, art conservation and architectural work in both the U.S. and Europe.

“We are going to use the same methods and materials in restoration that have been used in Europe for the past 2,000 years,” said Tarnoveanu, who will be working with a colleague on the project. “We’re going to clean it very well, the surface, and parts being restored will be removed and replaced in exact position.”

The entire mosaic mural was executed with vitrified glass mosaics made by the Orsoni Masici factory from Venice, Italy, which has been making mosaics for more than 200 years.

In San Diego, Tarnoveanu has restored the decorated interiors of the House of Hospitality in Balboa Park, including Café Del Prado and the Ball Room. He also restored the historic entrance of Simon Levi Co. Building in Petco Park downtown.

Contributions for the refurbishing of the church mural can be made to: Mary, Star of the Sea, 7669 Girard Ave., La Jolla, Ca., 92037.