Wright Crosses the Pacific Again, in 2021

© Mark Hertzberg (2021)

Frank Lloyd Wright first crossed the Pacific Ocean in 1905 to visit Japan. Figuratively speaking, Wright just made another crossing with the republication in May 2021 in Mandarin of two Wright books in one “omnibus edition” by the Beijing-based China Architecture Publishing & Media Co., formerly known as the China Architecture and Building Press. The books are Grant Hildebrand’s Frank Lloyd Wright’s Palmer House (University of Washington Press, 2007) and my Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson Research Tower (Pomegranate, 2010). The translated title of the omnibus edition is Organic Architecture Landmarks of Frank Lloyd Wright: SC Johnson Research Tower, Palmer House.

This is a color proof of the handsome cover:

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This exciting news (for me, as an author, as well as for anyone looking for unique ways to add to their Wright libraries) has been four years in the making.  Shuai Qi, an executive editor with the publisher, first broached the subject with me and with copyright holders of other potential books to include in the omnibus edition in April 2017. The four years of emails that ensued, concerning publishing rights, licensing agreements, contract language, payment arrangements, and myriad other details sometimes dragged out because of the 13-hour time difference between Racine and Beijing.

Prof. Yang Peng, a lecturer in Modern 20th Century Architecture at Renmin University of China School of Arts, translated the two books into Mandarin. He commented in an email, “FLLW still is and will be a great force to overcome the cultural shortsightedness.

“It is my privilege to make some contribution to let more Chinese readers know his works and ideas.”

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I asked Shuai Qi to tell me more about the interest about Wright in China. I knew of  of the great interest in Wright’s work in Japan, but nothing about his draw in China.

“Actually, Wright himself as a great architect is well known and some of his famous works is popular with Chinese people. Many books concerning Wright has been introduced from abroad and published here in China. In addition, the translator, also my friend, Prof. Yang Peng, is a true Wright fan. He has made a lot of research on Wright and even translated Wright’s Autobiography into Chinese.
“Many people in China know Wright’s famous works but few people know his works such as SC Johnson Research Tower and Palmer House. This is why we plan to introduce and publish this book into China. We think it can attract even more people’s attention and encourage them to explore more about this great architect. The target audience can be university and college students, architects, designers, and scholars, etc.”
During the four years of emails – 340 related messages are in my files – I suggested to Shuai Qi (not entirely facetiously!) that the publisher bring me to China to give my Wright lectures, including the one about the Research Tower. Not so unreasonable, is that maybe I will be able to do some Zoom lectures, now that they have become part of our “new normal.”
Now, for Stan Ecklund, Randy Henning, and all the others interested in buying the book, it is not yet on their website, but it can be ordered by emailing Li Juan by at:
2427634479@2427634479@qq.com
In 2017 the price of the book in US dollars was just under $4. I believe it is around $12 now, but that is exclusive of mailing costs, of course. If you all order enough copies the initial printing of 3,000 copies will sell out and I will get another royalty check when the second printing starts. So, you know what to do!
I apologize for the formatting problem that refuses to put the proper spacing between the last few paragraphs.

Rainy Day Post #3 – A Wright Potpourri

Photos (c) Mark Hertzberg (2020)

I have promised you one more “rainy day post,” cleaning up pictures that have been waiting on my desktop for the right context to post them in. This is a smattering of photos of Frank Lloyd Wright sites I have visited in one context or another since July 2018. While I shoot literal photos of Wright buildings (“head shots” we called them in the newsroom), I also look for photos of details of Wright’s designs. I am generally not sharing interior photos of private homes. I try to avoid looking at other photographers’ interpretations of Wright buildings before I visit them so that I see the structures through my own eye and lens, rather than possibly copy another photographer’s vision.

The photos are in chronological order, beginning with a wonderful trip to the Detroit area that July two years ago. We were with our good friends Bob and Jeanne Maushammer from Virginia. Jeanne’s exposure to Wright began when she was a teenager, hired to babysit at the Thomas P. Hardy House in Racine for Schuyler and Peterkin Seward, stewards of the house between 1957 – 1963. The Maushammers dutifully chronicle their Wright adventures in a well worn copy of William Allin Storrer’s The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. I will copy and paste Jeanne’s recollections of the Hardy House from my 2006 book about the house at the end of this blog post.

Our first stop was at the Affleck House in Bloomfield Hills, where Dale Gyure graciously gave us a private tour:

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We were fortunate to next get a private tour of the Melvin Smith House. The light was not as subtle as the architecture in the early afternoon:

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Then we were off to the Turkel House, lovingly restored by our good friends Norm Silk and Dale Morgan. Jeanne has wonderful stories of having seen the then-distressed house ca. 2004 right after a questionable tenant had been evicted. We had bid on a dinner at the house, to benefit the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. Norm went above and beyond shopping for us in a Middle Eastern market, and we had a lovely meal in the garden. The Maushammers, Cindy (Hertzberg), and Norm:

Turkel House Dinner 010.jpgWe planned to stay only a couple of hours and not overstay our welcome, but we were like family enjoying the house in the living room after dinner until past 11 p.m.! The light was harsh when we arrived at 5 p.m., and I wondered how it would change through the evening:

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Our next adventure was when Bob and Jeanne treated us to a stay at the Palmer House in Ann Arbor:

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I was then on tour in familiar territory in Wisconsin, helping lead tours for Road Scholar, first in Racine at SC Johnson and at Wingspread. I have visited and photographed these wonderful spaces umpteen times, and always look for a fresh way to see them:

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I climbed these stairs at Wingspread countless times before seeing this photo:

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I was then taken, again, by the fixtures at the Annunication Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa (suburban Milwaukee):

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After touring Racine and Milwaukee, we take our Road Scholar guests to Madison and Spring Green. First, a detail of the ceiling of Jacobs 1:

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Then, a light well in Anthony Puttnam’s interpretation of Monona Terrace:

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The trip culminates at Taliesin – of course – after seeing the Unitarian Meeting House in Madison and Wyoming Valley School, with lunch at Riverview Terrace. Our introduction to Taliesin is a pause at the dam:

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I finish with Jeanne’s recollection of babysitting at the Hardy House and a “selfie” there:

(From “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Thomas P. Hardy House,” written and photographed by Mark Hertzberg, Pomegranate: 2006):

Jeanne (Weins) Maushammer, who baby-sat for the Sewards, recalls growing up nearby. “The house was well-known to everyone in the neighborhood.  People would go to the 14th Street public beach there and see the house just a short distance away.  It did not look like a private residence.  Visitors from outside the area – even across town – would see two openings that could easily be mistaken for bath house entrances, and try to go in to change their clothes.

“Sometimes when you were driving around with out-of-town folks, they would ask ‘What is that?’  They did not recognize it as a house, because it was so different from the other homes around it, and because it was next to the beach.  Neighbors knew what it really was.  The Johnson Wax complex was down the street from us, so the Hardy House seemed to be appropriate.  My folks often told me of their witnessing the construction of the Administration Building and of seeing Frank Lloyd Wright.  The Johnson buildings were understood and accepted by visitors, but not the ‘beach house.’

“My friends and I used to go down to the beach all the time.  We could not get close enough to the property to get a good look at it.  We always had to look through the trees.  We could not see how it blended into the hill side.  That added to the mystery of it.  From the street, all that people could see was just that box.

“I knew it was a Frank Lloyd Wright house before I first went inside.  What I did not realize was how he proportioned houses to his small frame.  I remember thinking when inside for the first time:  ‘I am 5’4” but wow, these doorways are low.’  It was dark and raining that particular day, so I did not get to appreciate the house’s real beauty.  After I had been there several times and had a chance to explore it, to stand in that living room and on the balcony, and to take in the view, I realized it was incredible.

“My husband has never seen the inside of the house, except in photos, but in our wildest dreams we would like to buy it and come back to Racine.”

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