Thursday, March 14, 2013

Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West

I have strong opinions about Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.  I don't care for it.  I don't like stone in concrete, or clerestory windows, redwood, low ceilings, or even triangles.  I do like floor to ceiling windows, recessed lighting, huge fireplaces, texture, and a great view,  so on the other hand, I do like Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.

Today, Tom and I drove to Scottsdale to see Wright's home, which is part of a compound that includes an architectural school, a cafeteria, a sculpture garden and even a cabaret.  Our tour guide was a retired interior designer, articulate and knowledgeable.  I could have followed her around all day, even if I did have to stand in a burning sun for a good part of it.

Wright and his third wife, Olga,  lived without windows, electricity or plumbing for years, but always kept a grand piano and evening wear.  I love a couple who likes to dress up.  They also kept several British red roadsters to carry guests to the house.

A rattlesnake interrupted our tour and sent us scurrying to another entrance.  Several people saw it at once.  I said, "Where is it?  I don't want to see it," and kept my head down.

Wright furniture is uncomfortable.

Red was his favorite color.

He said, "I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility.  I chose the former and see no reason to change."  He's right.  Humility can be such a suck-up.

At the gift store, I bought a tiny folio, Frank Lloyd Wright: America's Master Architect,  and T.C. Boyle's The Women, a novel of Frank Lloyd Wright (his romances, not his architecture).  I love Boyle's short stories, but have never read his novels.  This one had superior reviews.  I also bought Tom a swell tie.

Sam and Sarah met us for cupcakes at Sprinkles.  I used to think Magnolia's had the best cupcakes, but that was before I had Sprinkles.  We sat on the bench outside their window and watched people with big honking SUVs cram themselves into the parking spaces.

Tomorrow we fly home on Allegiant Airlines.  Hope to get there before midnight.


  1. Unlike you, Louise, I like FLW architecture despite it being quite uncomfortable for living in (and sitting on). The first Wright house I have seen that I thought I might enjoy living in is in Silverton, Oregon.,_Oregon).

    Have you visited the Biltmore Resort, a Wright design? KayG

    1. I haven't seen the Biltmore but will have a look the next time we visit. I have a son in Pittsburgh, which is an hour and a half from Mill Run where the Fallingwater house is located. I have to see that. Good for Oregon for saving the Gordon House.

  2. Ah Sprinkles. I wouldn't want to see a rattlesnake either. Sounds like you had a lovely day.

  3. I saw the title and had to come over, having visited there myself and knowing you would have an interesting take. Just breaking down elements of a major artist that you like and others you don't and planting yourself firmly on the fence is daring and original. Seems people (myself included) either hop on the bandwagon of "I love ___" or go for the counter-cultural cache of "I loathe ___." You do both--haha! With honesty and insight. And then you pull out interesting biographical details and quotes and bring it back to earth with the gift shop and the fact his furniture is uncomfortable. Personally, with FLW I walk into one of his homes or rooms (as at the Met) and I'm so instantly transported to such a more beautiful world and a calmer soul state that I won't break down the elements. Like eating sweetbreads? Or staring too closely at a lover's face? Anyway, loved your take, love you. Give us a shout when you go to Fallingwater and we'll join you :)

  4. Was it mentioned WHY the Wrights lived without windows, electricity or plumbing for years? It's 8:00 am, and this will bother me for the rest of the day.

    1. Olga wanted windows from the get go, but FLW liked the organic feel of a house as part of the landscape. They did have canvas flaps that could be pulled down at night. As for electricity and plumbing, they were (for the time) way out in the middle of nowhere.

      He liked the windows once they were installed. He hated the electrical lines that led up from the city--thought they should be buried, and he was right.

      Now, they have gone solar and cut utility costs in half. They want to get it down to zero. There's a solar "farm" on the property of 620 acres.

  5. That book is great, you will love it. Sorry we're so hot in AZ right now. And always.

  6. And you didn't even give us a call!!!! Here we are just a few blocks from Allegiant Airport too. You've seen more of the "Valley" since your son moved here than we have in the 4 years we've been here! Next time give us a call so we can join you in exploring a bit of this place where we live!