Fells Point in Baltimore, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Loring Cornish / How Great Thou Art
Baltimore artist Loring Cornish, known for his colorful mosaics and personality, moving to California
Artist Loring Cornish, whose glass and found-object mosaics have beautified homes on Eutaw Street, a former police outpost near Penn Station and his studio in Fells Point, is leaving Baltimore for Los Angeles, where he hopes to realize his dream of an acting career.
"I just didn't want to waste any more time, not pursuing what I really wanted to do," Cornish said Wednesday, back in Baltimore for a brief visit before returning to L.A. and the space he's renting in the city's Silver Lake neighborhood. "I think I've reached the pinnacle I could reach in Fells Point."
Besides acting, Cornish says he hopes to write his memoirs once he's settled on the West Coast.
It would be quite the book.
A West Baltimore native who grew up, he says, with Druid Hill Park as his backyard, Cornish has become known around town for his colorful creations. Self-taught as an artist, he's had exhibitions at the John Hopkins University's Evergreen House, Morgan State University,
One of his best-known works can still be seen at the corner of Charles and Lanvale streets, just down from the Charles Theatre. Two years ago, in the months following the death of Freddie Gray, he encased an old police substation there in pieces of colored glass, emblazoning it with messages of hope and repeated depictions of the word "please."
He called the project "Change for the Better" and said it was meant to reflect a city in shambles. "I wanted it to be hopeful and uplifting about the situation, but still strong about the message that police brutality is wrong," Cornish told Baltimore Sun reporter Andrea K. McDaniels. In two earlier works, on a pair of West Baltimore houses, Corish had struck an angrier tone; a sign on one likened police brutality to legal lynching and featured black dolls hanging from trees.
His move to California — he plans to leave for good right after Christmas, Cornish says — will mark the second time he's relocated west. He lived in L.A. for about 10 years in the 1990s, creating art in the Silver Lake house he was renting and working as a shoe repairman and occasional actor (and living as Van Freeman, the name he received after being adopted by his stepfather; Loring Cornish, he says, is his
Cornish returned to Baltimore in 2001. But thing is, he apparently didn't tell everyone (including his landlord) that he was heading east, and the house full of art he left behind made for a tantalizing mystery. The Los Angeles Times ran an article about this artist who appeared to just up and vanish, and about the woman who moved into the house determined to save the artwork he left behind. When he was tracked back to his parents' home in Baltimore, after friends phoned with news of what was going on in L.A., the Times article was headlined, "'Missing' Artist Alive and Well in Maryland."
"It really makes a guy feel good," Cornish says, referring to the interest in his artwork, on both coasts. But he's always wanted to become a full-time actor, he says, and realizing that dream will be realized a lot easier in Los Angeles than in Baltimore.
"I have enough money to just go out there and focus on my acting and my writing," he says. "I would be doing the same thing that I would be doing here in Baltimore."
He's been both surprised and heartened, Cornish says, by the response since word got out here in Baltimore that he was L.A.-bound. People stopped by his Thames Street gallery, he says, to say how much they've liked his work and wish him well.
"I've never realized the impact my work had on the community at large, or the community right here in town — people that you didn't think even noticed you," he says. "I have a lot of fans."
My name is Lorning Cornish and for seven years I operated a glorious gallery in this building called
I played loud wonderful disco music while dancing and creating art in the very spot you're standing on in nothing but my underwear....I have always worked in nothing but my under wear.
There were three floors of amazing art including a shower made of phones, a mirrored bicycle and a real traffic light. No one ever bothered you.
One could roam freely throughout the entire building and relax as long as you liked.
However what I have loved the most about my gallery was the joy, peace and hope that filled the atmosphere. Great times and tears were often experienced in this love filled building. I will greatly miss this place. I have never experienced the amount of love that constantly poured from this building. I believe my continuous worship to God filled this place with love. I will miss those who have entered here... for most became my most precious friends. I thank God so much for my time here. It has been the best seven years of my life.
I will always endeavor to keep this building dedicated to the arts....always again.
Erected 2018 by Loring Cornish.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Churches & Religion. In addition, it is included in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities series list.
Location. 39° 16.886′ N, 76° 35.657′ W. Marker is in Fells Point in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker is on Thames Street east of South Bond Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1622 Thames Street, Baltimore MD 21231, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. National Bohemian Beer (here, next to this marker); Record Store Day (a few steps from this marker); Association of Maryland Pilots (within shouting distance of this marker); In Memory of Edward Fell / William Fell / Colonel Edward Fell / William Fell (within shouting distance of this marker); 1609 Shakespeare Street (within shouting distance of this marker); 1625 Shakespeare Street (within shouting distance of this marker); 823 South Bond Street (within shouting distance of this marker); 1627 Shakespeare Street (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fells Point.
Also see . . .
1. Loring Cornish: How Great Thou Art (Faith & Hope). (Submitted on January 20, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.)
2. Loring Cornish. (Submitted on January 20, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.)
3. Loring Cornish. (Submitted on January 20, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 17, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 20, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 143 times since then and 31 times this year. Last updated on June 8, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos: 1. submitted on June 8, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 2. submitted on January 20, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3. submitted on February 16, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.