Highlights from the interview with Nancy Linden

Portrait of Nancy Linden

On Joining the Cork Factory

NL: My first exposure here was probably coming to a party. Logan Hicks used to have the whole floor above us, and he would have enormous parties and art shows. At some point, I came to one, and it was dark and dramatic out on the street. It was this lighted place on this really dark street. In the old days, the street was a bit hazardous. And then I had a friend who had a studio on the 5th floor, and I’d to go to his parties occasionally. And a bunch of us… Well, I don’t know how lengthy you want to get into all of this.

In 1998, I guess, when Maryland Art Place was just moving out of their old space on Saratoga [Street], a friend and I were stuffing envelopes to help out, I’m not even sure what. But Peter Bruin, who was then on the board of MAP, was working with us and saying, “By the way, there is one show left and they are looking for somebody to just do something in their building before they leave it.” Janet and I said, “Well, we can do something.” So we got a hold of a bunch of other friends and it kind of evolved. There were nine of us. And it was this big installation thing that we all did. We’d get together and talk and talk and talk. And then we’d each go home and make plans and come back together again and talk and talk and talk. It was quite exciting, really. And then we installed it there.

Part of the reason this is pertinent is because Logan Hicks—who then had the second floor here—was part of the group, so we met in his space sometimes. We got bits to use in our installations from someone in the basement. Anyway, that was a wonderful thing in itself. We ended up installing it. Then, the thing was, that we would continue to install it throughout the run of the show, continue to do stuff, and to do stuff to one another’s things. So we just hung out there. We lived at over at MAP and ate Kristo’s pizza on the floor, cross-legged, every night and virtually lived there for four weeks, or five weeks, or whatever it was. But anyway, those two things were kind of my first experiences of the building.

I had a studio that I really loved in Pigtown, but it was getting way too small for me, because I had all this large junk around—like windows and wood and things that I’ll probably never put in art, but I love them anyway. And I was just falling over myself. I had to hop to cross my studio from one end to the other. So I really had to have a bigger place. So Al Zaruba—who was the friend that had a space on the 5th floor—was looking for someone, because he was working in the studio at home, and he was looking for somebody, preferably who was a friend, to sublet his space.

So I started subletting his space. And I guess that was about 2002, I think. So I was up there. I adored the studio there. And then in 2005/2006, this space came open for sale, and we kind of looked at it and thought, “Do we do, or do we don’t do?” Lou, of course, said, “Well, you can hang an airplane in here!” And that sold him. I was more dubious. Anyway, we ended up buying it. So now we live here. Then Al put the studio upstairs for sale, which was highly traumatic, because I loved the studio. And we ended up buying it, in the end. So now I have a studio and a living place in the building. So that’s quite wondrous.

Audio clip from oral history interview with Nancy Linden