It’s so hard these days to gain sustained national notoriety.
Trump brags about grabbing pussies. Meh, locker room talk. Some screwed up boy (and they’re always boys) grabs a military grade weapon and takes a baker’s dozen lives. We are shocked and saddened. Then we move on.
What does it take for an earnest narcissistic sociopath to make a lasting impression on this country?
About a hundred years ago, all it took was for Frank Lloyd Wright to abandon his wife and kids and run off with the wife of a neighbor. Headlines were national. And sustained. Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick had to flee to Europe to escape relentless public censure.
It’s said that Lloyd Wright built Taliesin so that Mamah and children could have some peace away from the eyes of the Press. Corporeal peace ended and, perhaps, spiritual peace began on the day a servant bolted the doors and set fire to Taliesin and all those inside.
If you visit Spring Green, seek out the family cemetery. At the base of a grand old tree lies Mamah Borthwick. A good egg who got more than she deserved.
Later — it’s a long story — Lloyd Wright in the company of his flock of “fellows”, established another community outside of Scottsdale, Arizona. He called it Taliesin West. The group commuted between their two bases; summers in Wisconsin, winters in Arizona. Lloyd Wright continued to live in the midst of a maelstrom of chaos of his own creation, first marrying a crazy woman, then a domineering one. Meanwhile commissions were won, merchants cheated, Fellows worked like prisoners on a chain gang.
For a while, Taliesin West was the site of the FLW School of Architecture. So far as I’m aware, Lloyd Wright was not so much interested in teaching as he was in a steady income and labor pool. In any case, no comparably famous architects seem to have matriculated from the institution. It’s gone now, moved to Cosanti or Arcosanti. I forget which.
For my money, the best thing about a visit to Taliesin West, beyond the house itself, is the collection of bronze sculptures by Heloise Crista. Mary Anne and I were able to spend 90 minutes or so with Ms. Crista some years ago. I still think if her sometimes.
Blah, blah, blah. Where are the photos?
We returned to Taliesin West not to tour but to shop. So what I’ll show you is what you can see for free. Consider these photos not a visit to Lloyd Wright’s home, but more of a study of his design ascetic. Desert rocks are pretty. Pile them up, build a frame and pour in cement. You have a wall at almost zero cost. Scrap lumber and rusty iron have rarely looked so good.
Works by Ms. Crista: some at Taliesin West, some at the nearby Promenade shopping center.