The design for a Divine Monument in Mount Vernon received the blessing of Baltimore's Public Art Commission last night, but now comes the tough part:
Raising the money to actually make it happen.
So far, the group hoping to install a monument to the late actor, drag queen and pop-culture icon has raised less than $10,000 of the project's estimated $70,000 cost. Michal Makarovich, a Hampden and one of those spearheading the effort, says his group is getting a little nervous.
"We really love all the enthusiasm, but it's not translating into giving," he said, noting that the group's Kickstarter campaign, as of Thursday morning, had raised just over $9,100. "We love that people are supporting this, but it won't help if there aren't any donations."
The group initiated its Kickstarter campaign in late January. The proposed marble and concrete monument, planned for the outer wall of a building near the corner of Read and Tyson streets, would be an arch roughly 8 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The Tyson Street site was chosen because it's across the street from where the most infamous scene in Divine's film career — the one at the end of John Waters' "Pink Flamingos" where he makes a meal out of dog poop — was filmed.
The monument would feature a laser-etched portrait of Divine staring out from underneath the arch, which would be perched atop two classically Baltimore marble steps. A small bronze representation of the dog droppings would also rest upon the top step.
The proposal was embraced wholeheartedly Wednesday night by the art commission, just as it was when it was first brought before the members in September.
"It's a smart little monument," commission member Sandra Abbott said. "They have a smart game plan."
"It was unanimous," a delighted Makarovich said. "It was really cool."
Divine, born Harris Glenn Milstead and raised in Towson and Lutherville, was a mainstay of Waters' films through 1988's "Hairspray." He also enjoyed an international career as a disco performer and drag queen. He died in 1988.
The monument would be funded entirely through private donations. The art commission approved the design of the monument Wednesday; a vote on accepting the monument as a gift to the city would come at a future meeting. Makarovich says his group plans to give $10,000 to the city in an escrow account, to help pay for the monument's upkeep.
But all those plans will be for naught, Makarovich noted, if the group's Kickstarter campaign doesn't reach its goal of $70,000 by the stated end date of March 26. Under Kickstarter rules, no money is dispersed to a campaign that doesn't reach its goal.
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"We're in despair, some days, that this might not happen," Makarovich said.