Friday, September 25, 2009

A night in Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater? I'll take two!

Sept. 25, 2009

Posted by Noah

... Okay, so it's actually not a night in Fallingwater, but two evenings in a house on the property and a day and an evening to hang out, eat, talk to others like yourself who love this house, and the overall work of Frank Lloyd Wright, the master...

So what if a lot of Wright's designs, while revolutionary and undeniably gorgeous, came up a little short on the sustainability scale. What matters is that it looks good. If you've studied any of Wright's designs, read his work, and made a point of touring his buildings - and I'm betting a few of you out there have - then you know what I'm talking about.

Throughout my journey as an antiques, art and auction writer for the last (mumble,mumble) years, great Modern architecture has been a constant. The first big story I wrote for a Northeastern antiques paper was on Wright - Russel Wright, actually, the industrial designer. I know that's the wrong Wright, but his personal Manitoga house in Garrison, NY made sure to set me on the right path and I've followed, studied and written about Modern Architecture, and Modernism, very closely ever since.

Of course, when I read the story linked to above I also ran to the handy Heritage Archives to see what evidence of the master's handiwork had come through Heritage and didn't come up disappointed. There is a healthy dose of FLW associated stuff, topped by a spectacular archive relating to the building of Wrights Parkwin Village in Kalamazoo, MI. Great stuff, really, and at just more than $13,000 in Oct. of 2006, a relative steal to be able to get inside the creative process of the such a brilliant and influential mind. There are also books that have sold for $10, and everything in between. Wright did not discriminate between his great and small projects - whether it was Fallingwater, Taliesin or one of his many "working class" Usonian structures, Wright did not hold back his talent. Neither does Heritage hold back in offering Wright-related artifacts that are five figures, two figures and everywhere in between.

No Wright structure seems to have captured the world's imagination like Fallingwater. Sure, The Guggenheim Museum is spectacular. The Johnson Wax building is sublime, both Taliesins (Spring Green, WI and Phoenix, AZ) are a special treat, and the Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, NY is amazing, while even the Kalita Humphreys Theater here is Dallas is a rambling and intriguing piece of Wright madness - whose future is now in doubt, btw - and countless movies and TV shows have made use of his futuristic and ahead-of-its-time design. Somehow Fallingwater is the one that turns everyone on.

As one of the curators of the place says in the story above, "it's the tree house you always wanted to live in."

That's about Wright, er... right. (You would've done it, too, were you writing this post. You know it.)

To get the one hour tour of Fallingwater costs about $18. To spend two evenings around Fallingwater and a day in it, will set you back a cool $1195. Pocket change, right? Perhaps to some. I personally would love to do it if I had the cash. It would indeed be a dream come true. It will have to wait, however, as I doubt my 3-1/2 year old daughter, cute, sweet - and brilliant, I might add - as she may be, would quite yet understand just why it's not a good idea to climb in that tree.

"But Papa, it's right in the living room!"

Chances are I'd probably agree with her and we'd both get kicked out. So much for my dream of spending a big chunk of cash to pretend for a day that I lived in the most famous private residence in America!

Wright does, however, still figure prominently in my life. I read about him whenever I can, I go to his buildings wherever I can and I remember very well that he said that the blocks he played with as a child unlocked his architectural genius at an early age. Needless to say, one of the first things we got our daughter when she mastered her hands was a set of blocks. I have a feeling she might be getting a whole new, and sizable, addition to her collection over the holidays. I have no doubt that she will directly channel Wright's genius.

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-Noah Fleisher

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