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Statue of Divine gets a permanent home at the American Visionary Art Museum

Divine is home, for good.

Andrew Logan, the British sculptor whose 10-foot statue of Divine has been a fixture at the American Visionary Art Museum since 1998, has given the piece to AVAM, ensuring it will remain in the city its subject called home.

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"I realized that Divine belonged in Baltimore and not to me," Logan wrote in an email from his home in London, taking the opportunity to praise AVAM founder and director, Rebecca Hoffberger. "Rebecca's love and guidance at AVAM assured me of the statue's future."

Logan was a guest at her home when he told her of his decision, Hoffberger said. "I was just blown away by it," she said of the gift. "He just humbly said, 'I think Divvy should be here.' It was more than nice. It brought me to tears."

There had been no suggestion that the statue was going anywhere, Hoffberger said. Still, she welcomed Logan's decision to give Divine a permanent home. "I would never have asked him," she said.

The piece, capturing the Baltimore County native born Harris Glenn Milstead in full drag-queen regalia, was initially part of an exhibition titled, "Error and Eros, Love Profane and Divine." Although its size and bulk (it comes in three sections and weighs between 450 and 500 pounds) make it difficult to move, it does leave the museum occasionally. Earlier this year, Divine showed up at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront for "History is a Drag," a benefit for the Baltimore National Heritage Area's Heritage Investment Grant program.

"It takes four people to disassemble … It's quite a production," Hoffberger said.

Divine sat for him just months before dying of a heart attack in March 1988, Logan said. "We were great friends and I wanted to celebrate this and his contribution to this world," Logan said. "For me, it was a process of mourning and rejoicing in his genius."

The piece took him a year to finish, Logan said.

The statue, which stands in AVAM's Jim Rouse Visionary Center, across from the main museum building, has been enthusiastically embraced by Baltimore; it's even appeared in a promotional ad for the city. The real Divine, Logan said with surety, would love its status. Baltimore is, after all, where Divine and his friend John Waters not only grew up, but created the movies that would make both of them famous.

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"Divine would have been delighted to have a 10-foot moving statue dedicated to him," Logan said, adding it would have appealed to his "sense of fun."

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