Celebrating Wright at Taliesin and Stillbend

(c) Mark Hertzberg 2017

There are Wright celebrations aplenty this year to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth on June 8, 1867 in Richland Center, Wisconsin.

The annual Wright birthday cocktail reception and dinner celebration at Taliesin, organized by Minerva Montooth and co-sponsored by Taliesin Preservation (the reception at Taliesin) and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation (dinner at Hillside), was Saturday evening. The photos of the Taliesin celebration are followed by photos of a celebration the next day at Stillbend, Wright’s Bernard Schwartz House (1939) in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. The guests at Stillbend included Steve Schwartz who shared his memories of growing up in the house. Michael Ditmer, steward of Stillbend, wondered if Wright have approved of the fuss. Read through to the end for my thoughts and then post your thoughts in the Comments link.

Wright 150th Taliesin 047.jpg

Minerva was ebullient – as always – as she greeted her guests:

Wright 150th Taliesin 013.jpg

Sara Lomasz Flesch, left, Aron Meudt-Thering, and Erik Flesch of Taliesin Preservation help guests with refreshments on a hot and humid evening during the reception:

Wright 150th Taliesin 014.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 003.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 022.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 024.jpg

The guests included Steve and Lynette Erickson Sikora, stewards of the Malcolm Willey House in Minneapolis:

Wright 150th Taliesin 025.jpg

Stuart Graff, President and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, joined by his husband, Rob Chambers, sported a concrete (really) bow tie:

Wright 150th Taliesin 017.jpg

Souvenir photos were in order for many guests:

Wright 150th Taliesin 001.jpg

Musicians Effi Casey, Caroline Hamblen, Shannon McFarley, Ethan Ewer, Steven Ewer, Laurie Riss, and Eliana Baccas played a concerto before remarks by Tim Wright (one of Wright’s grandchildren), Graff, Aaron Betsky (Dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture), and Carrie Rodamaker (Executive Director & Director of Operations at Taliesin Preservation):

Wright 150th Taliesin 027.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 032.jpg

Tim Wright (whose father was Robert Llewellyn Wright), reminisced about his grandfather who he met for the first time when he was 13, at Taliesin. He drew chuckles when he said the architect greeted him asking quite directly, “How do you like shoveling shit and pulling tits?” Timothy confessed to the guests that he had neither shoveled manure nor milked a cow yet, even though he had been at Taliesin for several weeks.

Wright 150th Taliesin 035.jpg

The birthday feast seems to appear magically every year. Two of the magicians Saturday were Jay Anderson, an apprentice chef at Taliesin, and Chef Barbara Wright (no relation to the architect). They were photographed preparing the lemon butter asparagus and rosemary new potatoes which accompanied the spinach and feta cheese stuffed chicken:

Wright 150th Taliesin 042.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 045.jpg

Guests, below, found the menu as they unfolded origami found in little boxes at the tables:

Wright 150th Taliesin 049.jpg

The healthy menu was followed by the presumably less healthy (but no less tasty) traditionally named Frank Lloyd Wright’s Birthday Cake and a toast to Wright by Graff:

Wright 150th Taliesin 051.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 053.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 054.jpg

The origami menu presentation and decorative lights were made by students Lorraine Etchell and Xinxuan Liu:

Wright 150th Taliesin 055.jpg

WRIGHT CELEBRATION AT STILLBEND:

Michael Ditmer, steward of Stillbend, Wright’s Bernard Schwartz House in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, hosted his own celebration at the house Sunday afternoon.

Wright 150th Taliesin 058.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 012.jpgWright 150th Taliesin 008.jpg

Steve Schwartz, whose parents commissioned the house in 1940, delighted guests with his recollections of growing up in the house from the time he was three years old. He said that Wright named the estate for the bend in the river at the site he picked out for the house which evolved from the 1938 Wright design for LIFE Magazine’s feature of  “Eight Houses for Modern Living” ostensibly for a family from Minneapolis.

Wright 150th Taliesin 040.jpgWright 150th Taliesin 020.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 028.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 032.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 037.jpg

Schwartz had a treehouse in the maple behind him in the first photo below:Wright 150th Taliesin 029.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 030.jpg

He said he hoped someone would ask him what it was like to come back to the house, and had prepared a poem entitled Home Again:

The river curves, a still bend

Flocks off honking geese flying in formation

To seek gentler climes.

Firelight illumines sooty

History of joyous life.

All is in harmony

Quietly outwitting temporal arguments

Of color and placement.

Patterns, the rising heat swirls outward

Taking conversations of generations.

Oh, to resist one’s youth

To capture, nourish and restore,

Remember the thread

That wove the future.

While guests at Taliesin were treated to classical music, Ditmer chose as entertainment a wonderful new as-yet-unamed jazz trio from Two Rivers which he decided should be named the Stillbend Jazz Trio, including vocalist Vida Martin.

Wright 150th Taliesin 061.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 074.jpgWright 150th Taliesin 071.jpgWright 150th Taliesin 080.jpg

Wright 150th Taliesin 071.jpgWright 150th Taliesin 068.jpgWright 150th Taliesin 069.jpgWright 150th Taliesin 070.jpgDitmer asked me at the end of the day what Wright would have thought of this commemoration of his birthday. Consider that Stillbend was a gathering place for both friends and strangers that afternoon. Consider that the little boy who grew up there was back to experience the house again. Consider that the guests were treated to live music, Consider that the acoustics in the living room were perfect. Indeed, the house was being enjoyed just as Wright intended. He likely would have been pleased.

Advertisements

Wright Birthday Bash at Taliesin

(c) Mark Hertzberg

Taliesin Pano.jpg

A crisp blue sky greeted guests at the annual Taliesin celebration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday Saturday June 11. Wright was born June 8, 1867.

Minerva Montooth, who was an assistant to Olgivanna Wright, and whose late husband, Charles, was also a member of the Taliesin Fellowship, greeted guests, as is her custom at the celebration. Minerva lives at Taliesin. Mary Jane Hamilton, a Wright scholar from Madison, is behind her in the photo.

Minerva Montooth 6.11.16 004.jpg

Fewer guests than usual gathered outside because it was so warm and humid, even at 6:30 p.m.

2016 Wright Birthday Taliesin 002.jpg

Lovely evening light set the scene as guests made their way to Hillside School where Jason Silverman, residence life manager of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture directed them to the theater for the evening program.

2016 Wright Birthday Taliesin 007.jpg

2016 Wright Birthday Taliesin 008.jpg

DSC_8924.jpg

2016 Wright Birthday Taliesin 009.jpg

Stuart Graff, center, CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, introduced Aaron Betsky, Dean of the School of Architecture, and Eric O’Malley, right, of OAD (the Organic Architecture and Design archives) and the PrairieMod website.

2016 Wright Birthday Taliesin 014.jpg

O’Malley told the guests how moved he was seeing the original model of Wright’s San Francisco Call newspaper building when he visited Taliesin young. The model has been moved to the Museum of Modern Art, so OAD commissioned Stafford Norris to build this replica to be displayed at Hillside where the original model stood for years. Architect Randolph C. Henning was also present. Henning, O’Malley, and William Blair Scott are the three partners in OAD.

Call Building Model 001.jpg

The musical selection was Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3:

2016 Wright Birthday Taliesin 019.jpg

Dinner featured braised beef short rib with greens grown at Taliesin, topped off by the traditional homemade birthday cake.

2016 Wright Birthday Taliesin 021.jpg

2016 Wright Birthday Taliesin 022.jpg

2016 Wright Birthday Taliesin 023.jpg

2016 Wright Birthday Taliesin 027.jpg

Next year’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birth will be marked by many special events, including a just-announced major exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.