Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why I Call Him Frank

I was watching a Ken Burns documentary recently in which the interviewee was describing the atmosphere at the Taliesin fellowship in Wisconsin. Frank's third wife, Olga, gave directions and communicated Frank's wishes to workers and students by telling them that "Mr. Wright said such and such," or "Mr. Wright wants so-and-so to do a, b and c." She rarely, if at all, referred to him as Frank to anyone.

So why do I call him Frank?

from les writes more Nov. 8, 2010

I wont say that everyone who knows me knows I love Frank, but I can confidently say that many people do. I love Frank so much, in fact, that I think we're on a first name basis. When I refer to Frank, the unknowing often ask, "Frank, who?" as though I'm referring to a friend. Frank, who? Pssssh! The Lloyd Wright himself, of course!

I digress...I love Frank. I admire Frank. I am in awe of Frank's work. The lines! The blending of earth and man! The organized abstract nature of it all. And that's just his work.

Frank himself is such an interesting man. His house burned twice. He left his wife and children for his mistress, and then his mistress and her children were murdered in his home by his employee. He married someone half his age -- and had a child with her. He was banished from Chicago society, had a sporadic streak that nearly bankrupted him more than once and was wildly impulsive. His best work came after he nearly lost it all, and I love him for that. He was cocky as hell, didn't listen to clients and was notorious for going over budget. I'm talking more than double what he was supposed to spend. He pushed the limits of design and engineering (have you seen Falling Water?). He rocks my world.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Frank Lloyd Life

I don't remember when I first fell in love with Frank Lloyd Wright. It wasn't the first time I saw one of his works, which was the Guggenheim in New York City in 2001 or 2002. I am not even sure I knew who designed the building at that time, but I was interested enough to go in and observe the cylindrical atrium even though we weren't staying for the art. Architecture has always been of interest to me, and I thought of it as a career option (Until I realized my obsessive compulsive tendencies would require all my structures to be symmetrical. Where's the fun in that?) if only for a fleeting moment.

The first time I visited a FLW-designed home was in July 2007. I was preparing to move to Georgia and had an Ohio bucket list, all the things I wanted to do before I left. Somehow, visiting Falling Water in Bear Run, Penn., ended up on that list. The I.N. Hagan house, also known as The House at Kentuck Knob, is nearby so it was tacked on as well. As soon as I laid eyes on Falling Water, I was smitten, and the Hagan house sealed the deal.

The rest, my friends, is history. I've since watched five (six?) documentaries, read three books and visited nearly 30 buildings, and it's only the beginning. I Call Him Frank is a chronicle of those experiences and the many, many more to come.