After over ten years in Asia, Brian and Jeanee Linden opened the The Linden Gallery in 1995 to highlight Asia's diverse material culture. Whether it is contemporary paintings from Vietnam, 2,000 year old ceramics from China, textiles from Japan and Laos, or Burmese and Cambodia Buddhist sculptures, the Lindens personally select their pieces during their extended yearly sojourns throughout Asia.
The Linden Gallery is housed in a Door County landmark the Prairie-style former Lutheran Church in Ellison Bay. The enchanting 6,000 square foot gallery is dedicated to rotating exhibitions of leading Asian artists, antiquities, and Asian objets d'art.
The gallery is open from May-October each year.
Since 2004, the Linden family (Brian, Jeanee and sons Shane and Bryce) have pursued their dream of facilitating a deeper cultural immersion into the rich traditions of China's mountainous southwest. In Yunnan Province, the Lindens became the first private foreign couple to take over a Chinese National Relic- the famed walled courtyards of the Yang Family.
After three years of gaining approvals and restoration, the Linden Centre opened to the public in 2008. It has since garnered international accolades such as Tripadvisor.com's China Hotel of the Year in 2011, China's Sustainable Tourism Award, Travel and Leisure's Global Vision Award, and CNNGo's Top Heritage Hotel in China. The Lindens' story has appeared in international media such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Time, Financial Times, Conde Nast and Food and Wine.
The Lindens continue to split their time between China and the U.S. Their dreams of being cultural ambassadors continue to drive and inform their life together.
James Michener never made it to Afghanistan. He never wrote about the Silk Road. In 1984, one of his novels, Poland, lined the shelves of the leading US bookstores, but it was just outside Afghanistan, on a clear and cold night, that Michener may have found his most appreciative reader. Poland perhaps saved my life.
Brian discusses obstacles faced in establishing cultural retreat in Southeast Himalayas
"Wake up, Old Lady Zhou!"
Xie, the forger, yells as we step from the narrow Jingdezhen streets into a dilapidated wooden structure dating back to the last
years of the Qing Dynasty. Inside, two little girls sit at a converted altar table, giggling between bites, as I, the first foreigner in their abode, walk past their steaming bowls. Their grandfather, seemingly as old as the building, smiles a toothless welcome, and continues eating the jianshuiba- Jingdezhen's noodle specialty.
The old man flashed a toothless grin as we struggled up the slippery steps to the top of the waterfall. Groups of sure-footed women carrying yokes craddled with dried fruits and coffee snaked passed us. My attempts to converse with them failed, leading the old man to joke, "Those people don't understand Chinese- they are even poorer than we are. Be careful up above the falls as you get closer to the border. The Vietnamese are tricky people!"
"Dig anywhere in Jingdezhen, and you will find old porcelain," said Mr. Xie, one of China's leading porcelain forgers. "It is my job to take all these old pieces and recreate 'antiques' for the world's markets."
Walking with Xie through an old antique market is like walking through Palermo with the Corleonis. People bow silently as he passes their spread of wares. Some of the bolder dealers reach out and offer him a cigarette, a pat on his back, a story of how one of his pieces fooled a collector. Xie collects these praises with a widening grin. He spreads his arms and boasts, "I can fool even the most knowledgeable collector."
Even with two successful galleries and the rare chance to divide their time between China and Door County, the Lindens had yet another goal – to establish an elegant base for learning, sharing, and exploration among the communities of China.
The red star remained, although the Chairman’s shadowed profile had become bleached with age. Under his portrait were his famous words encouraging the Chinese masses to rise up in revolution. I climbed over the threshold and entered a courtyard full of Mao and Lenin statues, Socialist-realism paintings and porcelain soldiers. A smiling man beaconed me in, "Welcome to the Cultural Revolution."
"Cast a cold eye on life, on death. Horseman, pass by." – Wm. Butler Yeats. Dogs – 85 big dogs, small dogs, nice dogs and definitely mean dogs. If any image comes close to transcending my memories of Tibetan beauty and spiritualism, it is the dogs.
Shane Linden describes his feelings during recent overland journey in a Cambodia where remnants of war are never far from view.
In this 2004 article, Brian argues that America must focus more attention on learning about China- a country that represents our greatest opportunities and challenges in the coming years.
Three months before Shane Linden was born in 1995, his parents left Asia after spending nearly ten years in the region. Asia was never far away for Shane, though, as his parents opened a gallery in Ellison Bay that focused on the arts and antiques from their former home.