(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.
Minerva was ebullient – as always – as she greeted her guests:
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:
The guests included Steve and Lynette Erickson Sikora, stewards of the Malcolm Willey House in Minneapolis:
Stuart Graff, President and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, joined by his husband, Rob Chambers, sported a concrete (really) bow tie:
Souvenir photos were in order for many guests:
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):
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.
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:
Guests, below, found the menu as they unfolded origami found in little boxes at the tables:
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:
The origami menu presentation and decorative lights were made by students Lorraine Etchell and Xinxuan Liu:
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.
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.
Schwartz had a treehouse in the maple behind him in the first photo below:
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.
Ditmer 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.