Closing Wright's AZ-WI circle
PHOENIX – There was a time when my significant other and I spent a lot of time on the trail of Frank Lloyd Wright. We've seen works large and small – landmark and under the radar – by Wisconsin's native son, in Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
Perhaps my favorite has always been his home and studio at Spring Green, called Taliesen. Situated in one of the loveliest natural areas of the state, Taliesen feels a part of the landscape. And that's no accident. Wright liked to bring his works in harmony with nature.
This weekend I finally got to see Taliesen's bookend, Taliesen West, which Wright constructed on a craggy Scottsdale hillside later in his life. Like its namesake, this Taliesen, too, feels like part of its setting.
It's interesting to see Wright in an entirely new context. His work in Wisconsin and Oak Park has a certain feel and context. Seeing how Wright responded to the arid desert valley gives a whole new visual perspective on his continued dedication to what has been called "organic architecture."
Wright used local stone, hauled by his students, to build the structure. In one misstep, he imported California redwood, which has been largely replaced or is decaying and needs replacement.
But like Taliesen in Wisconsin, Taliesen West is so well integrated into its setting that you can only really see it once you've come entirely face to face with it.
Once you do step up to it, you see how he worked to make the most of the breezes, how he hoped to keep the place cool in the desert by building it low to the ground and, in some cases, below it.
There are three tours – one hour, 90 minutes and three hours – and I urge to you devote at least 90 minutes. Time flies and the tour offers much more than than the 60-minute version.
While I was visiting Taliesen West, the Phoenix Art Museum was showing the Milwaukee Art Museum's "Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century" exhibition.
I didn't go, having seen it already here last year, but it helped close Frank Lloyd Wright's Wisconsin-Arizona circle for me.
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