Welcome back, Ms. Pink

Our view: Art or not, the city had no business messing with a Hampden landmark

November 22, 2009

The giant pink flamingo that hung over Baltimore's Cafe Hon until it was netted last month by an overzealous city housing inspector is back. We're glad to see the kitschy fowl return to roost in the spot from which it never should have been shooed away.

The bird was emblematic of Baltimore's love for all things retro, and its humongous dimensions matched the outsized personality of cafe owner Denise Whiting, whose entrepreneurial savvy helped turn The Avenue in Hampden into a trendy cultural destination.

Why the city acted in such a shortsighted manner by making a fuss over a petty technical violation it had happily ignored for years, we'll never comprehend. But Mayor Sheila Dixon was surely right to step in and broker a deal that ended the nonsense.

After the city agreed to cut in half an $800 "minor privilege fee" it said was owed because the bird protruded into public space, Ms. Whiting replaced the chicken-wire-and-bedsheets sculpture that was taken down in October with a sturdier fiberglass model by Baltimore artist Randall Gornowich. Mayor Dixon was on hand to welcome it back.

Though the old flamingo never had a name, we're told cafe employees have taken to calling its successor, which went up last week, Big Pink. And Ms. Whiting says she's certain it's a she, not a he.

"Purple and orange are for boys," she explained, "but if it's pink it's got to be a girl, right?"

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