The city of Baltimore has a mosaic masterpiece in Loring Cornish. While reading BaltimoreMagazine.net (one of my fave new sites), I read an article by John Lewis about this artist, who has transformed his house into a mosaic wonderland, using scrap materials such as wood, spoons, pennies and marbles.
After reading the article, his story reminds me of artist James Hampton and his artwork, The Throne of the Third Heaven. If you read my previous post on him, you’ll remember that James’ masterpiece was also created by using scrap materials and was ultimately discovered by his landlord after his passing. It is now on display at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
In short, Loring’s story goes like this: While living in L.A., Loring had difficulty paying his rent and faced eviction. He went on the game show “The Price is Right” to win money, but left with a grill instead. He tried selling his art, but was eventually evicted. He packed up and drove to Baltimore, where he grew up. But before being evicted, he intricately transformed the house using pennies and lace. “I polyurethaned it down," he says. "It was the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.” After Loring left, neighbors began to peer into the windows and found his creation. One of those neighbors asked the landlord to let her rent out Loring’s old home, so that she could save it, and it was opened to the public. Loring, now in Baltimore, didn’t know that his former home was now an art gallery.
A friend told Loring what was going on in L.A., so he returned and worked on the house for two years. He then moved back to Baltimore to be closer to his parents. He still struggled for income, but found scrap materials on the streets for his new home. He shared in the article, “I was gathering and collecting materials with a shopping cart” he says. “I took junk and trash off the streets and alleys and turned it into something phenomenal. Some of that junk and trash is now hanging in museums.”
Those museums include the American Visionary Art Museum and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, both in Baltimore.
An upcoming exhibit of Loring’s work will be on display at Morgan State University in Baltimore. The exhibit, Pre-Inaugural America: Jews and Blacks Ascending, opens January 17th at Morgan's Schaefer Building.
Read more about Loring in Baltimore Magazine here.
Photo: Daniel Bedell/Baltimoremagazine.net