BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Divine is staying in Mount Vernon after the large mural of the Baltimore born movie star ran into some controversy.
The three-story mural went up on the side of a rowhouse on East Preston St. last month, but homeowner Jesse Salazar did not get proper authorization.
The city’s Commission for Historical Preservation was asked for retroactive approval.
“We believe in Baltimore and we want to do our part to build the city’s LGBT community and to honor the legacy of one of our most important icons,” Salazar said. “We intended the mural to be beautifying and a symbol of the best of Baltimore.”
The commission held a hearing and listened to testimony from neighbors and film director John Waters.
Divine starred in several of Waters films, including “Hairspray” and “Pink Flamingos.” An assistant to Waters, Jennifer Berg, said Waters fully supported the mural project.
“Aren’t there worse problems in Mount Vernon than a mural? Please allow this wonderful artwork to continue to be seen in all its new found glory and attention,” Berg said.
Kevin Brown, of Station North, also testified in favor of the project.
“Baltimore is full of what I call pockets of poverty and islands of excellence,” he said. “This mural is an island of excellence. I don’t know Mr. Salazar and Mr. Williams, but I think they’ve done a wonderful thing.”
Only one person testified against the mural.
“I don’t understand the question that is being debated today. The mural is not preserving any historical aspect of the building,” said property owner Oren Orbach.
In the end, the board voted unanimously to keep the mural in place.
“In this case, the city stood behind the mural, and so we get to hold hands with the community and celebrate this thing that I believe will be an icon for generations,” Salazar added.
The internationally known street artist Gaia painted the mural of Divine, which is entitled “I’m So Beautiful.”