AF: Could you just tell me a little bit about how you first came to live at 1601 Guilford?
BL: Yeah. I was a ceramic artist since 1974. From 1974 through 1983, I was living in the country, on the farm, making ceramic art, and decided I needed to be closer to my market, which was in New York City. Baltimore was about as close as I could get to New York City and afford the space. I lived in a temporary place before I moved here. A friend was taking a training for six months, so I took over their house and made it into a studio.
Then I’d heard about this place from a friend and they were renting it—it was owned by a printing company, Weant Press—what’s now the Cork Factory.
But then it was owned by Weant Press, and there were a whole bunch of different businesses in here, ranging from furniture refinishing to a staple company to a wax museum figure-making place to… I think MICA [Maryland Institute College of Art] had a studio in here, that I’m not sure they were using at the time, but they had it at one point.
There was a cabinetmaker in here. I knew the cabinetmaker and a space became available. This had been a furniture refinishing studio that I was in. They were renting it and they were renting it really cheap, but it would have required—just as a rental—to put a lot of money into it to make it into a studio. But because it was so cheap and so large—3,200 square feet for around $400 a month—I was willing to take the risk. I had a five year lease and put about $15,000 into it and made it into a live/work space.