Writing Wright With Light-Photo Adventures at two Wright sites in Milwaukee

© Mark Hertzberg

Something wasn’t right today. I was not committed to taking pictures as I accompanied my 11th Road Scholar Frank Lloyd Wright trip, my second in a month, to sites in Milwaukee today.* As I have written in past blogs, I try to see and photograph something new every time I visit a familiar Wright site, but I did not feel photographically inspired this trip. When I got to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block, our first stop, I thought I had seen all the pictures there were to take, on the trip in May:

https://wrightinracine.wordpress.com/2022/05/19/wright-tourism-is-back-bits-of-burnham/

So, I left my workhorse cameras on the bus and carried just my iPhone 11 Pro. Then I saw something that struck me. I gingerly took out my phone and snapped a picture:

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I put the phone back in my pocket, thinking it would be a “one and done” day. I took two photos of Road Scholars eager to enter the American System-Built B-1 Richards House, and again figured, that would be it for the day:

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Ah, but there was more to come, above me, and inside the house:

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Done for the day? Maybe, but I decided to bring the “real” cameras with me when we got to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa. I was immediately struck by the cloudless and rich blue sky. It seemed in synch with the blue color scheme of much of the church building. First, was the obligatory “record” snapshot before pushing my eye:

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The “crown of thorns” below the domed roof presented myriad photos:

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Then I came to the entry way and its cantilevered canopy:

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There are thousands of two inch by two inch ceramic tiles above the roof of the canopy. Our docent, my friend Cathy Spyres, explained that these are the same tiles that were on the original roof of the church. The original tiles were not replaced after they started popping off the roof.

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Then, onto a quest to see something new inside the church:

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Spyres told the guests that blue (as well as gold) is one of the dominant colors inside and outside the church because it is part of the Byzantine heritage. So was the sky, I thought, as I heard her explanation.

I was in touch a few months ago with the director of a Wright site to take photos for a forthcoming Wright book by a university professor. The director was critical of one of my earlier photos from the site because it had an “on the spot look.” I asked for clarification: “On the spot means it looks like a hand-held shot. It isn’t carefully studied. It has a casual look.” I make no apologies for my style of working: “Casually,” and “hand-held.”

Photography literally means “writing with light.” Today the light was perfect for me to write Wright.

*The guests’ week-long itinerary begins in Chicago and Oak Park, continues to Racine, where I join them, then on to Milwaukee, Madison, and Spring Green. They see 12 Wright sites in Wisconsin during this deep immersion into the World of Wright:

https://www.roadscholar.org/find-an-adventure/22976/architectural-masterworks-of-frank-lloyd-wright

Wright Tourism is Back: Bits of Burnham

© Mark Hertzberg (2022)

LR Burnham 2022 010.jpgSybil Knop talks to Road Scholar guests touring the Burnham Block May 19

The pandemic is far from over, but Wright tourism is ramping up again. I have helped lead the Wisconsin portion of Road Scholar’s week-long tour that starts in Chicago and ends in Spring Green since 2017 (a link to the itinerary is below). This week is our first of three tours for this year since 2019.. We have 16 guests from 10 states on this tour. Our first stop was the Burnham Block in Milwaukee which has six American System-Built homes, most owned by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block, Inc.

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I always challenge myself to see if I can find fresh photographs at Wright sites, no matter how often I have visited them. Here is what I saw on the Burnham Block after two years away from my Wright photo quests. I have two establishing shots showing signs of spring:

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I concentrated more on patterns or design elements that I saw, mostly at the duplexes (dupli?) at 2032 – 2034 W. Burnham Street, left, and 2028 – 2030 next door.

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LR Burnham 2022 018.jpgThis is not a version of the Frank Lloyd Wright signature tile…it is one of the faded red squares that have been used as social distancing markers on Burnham Street.

LR Burnham 2022 017.jpgI thought Frank Lloyd Wright hated basements.” They were not his favorite spaces, but he did not eschew them entirely. This is one of the vents from the basement at 2032 – 2034.

I told our guests that one of the great benefits of touring 2032 – 2034 is that while they generally see fully restored or rehabilitated Wright structures, this was an opportunity to see one in raw shape, as money from a Save America’s Treasures grants is used to bring it to house museum status like the Model B-1 down the block at 2714 W. Burnham St.

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LR Burnham 2022 066.jpgThis period stove is in a closet until the restoration is done.

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We then toured the Model B-1, one of the two single-family homes on the block. It was the first Burnham property acquired by what became the Burnham Block organization, in 2004. It has been fully restored with a Save America’s Treasures grant. It is a tribute to Mike Lilek and the organizations that have been the stewards of Burnham received not one, but two SAT grants.

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There are still two duplexes that will need restoration, including the world’s only Frank Lloyd Wright building clad in aluminum siding:

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I close this blog entry with a nod to my friend Cathy Spyres, docent extraordinaire at Wright’s Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church – her church – in Wauwatosa. The church is our second Wright stop on our Milwaukee itinerary:

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Tomorrow’s itinerary is another full day: We are overnighting in Madison tonight, after also seeing the Milwaukee Art Museum (Saarinen / Calatrava) and Monona Terrace. Tomorrow we start at Jacobs 1 and then go to the Unitarian Meeting House, Wyoming Valley School and have lunch at Riverview Terrace before our in-depth tours of Taliesin and Hillside. I can attest from our own trips with Road Scholar that you see so much and learn so much (education is a major component of their programming) that you need a vacation after your RS vacation! Wright tourism is, indeed back in full swing!

Links:

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block:

http://wrightinmilwaukee.com

This Road Scholar Trip Itinerary (we also have a full tour of the Hardy House in Racine and an exterior guided tour of Jacobs 1, although they are not listed in the advance itinerary):

https://www.roadscholar.org/find-an-adventure/22976/architectural-masterworks-of-frank-lloyd-wright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring Wright with My Cameras, 9.18.19

(c) Mark Hertzberg (2019)

This is a follow-up post to the one from two days ago and several from earlier this year, as I visit Frank Lloyd Wright sites that are familiar to me with guests traveling on Road Scholar tours. I have been with four tours this year, a fifth one is scheduled for next week. One of our guests this week was from Australia:

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My challenge to myself is to try to see (i.e. photograph) these sites in new ways on each visit. Earlier this summer Taliesin Preservation was kind enough to ask me to write about my photography for their blog:

https://www.taliesinpreservation.org/behind-the-lens/

I am dedicating this post to my friend Cate Boldt, docent and educator extraordinaire at Taliesin. First you see Cate, a Master Gardener, preparing for her role as a Taliesin Garden Fairy, and then with students in Taliesin’s summer architecture camp, as students prepare for their final presentations at Hillside Theater (the practice run was at Wyoming Valley School):

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Our first stop Wednesday morning was at Jacobs 1 in Madison:

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I was taken with the glint of morning sun on the side of the house:

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I have long admired James Dennis’s red Volvo P1800 sports coupe which sits under Wright’s first carport. Wednesday I challenged myself to photograph it in the context of the house:

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Then it was on to the Unitarian Meeting House where I concentrated on the new copper roof. There is just a hint of light on the left edge of the prow in the first photo, the usual angle from which the church is photographed:

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Then it was time to play with light and shapes:

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As I shot the next few photos I longed for the days I worked for a newspaper, when I likely would have been given access inside the fence and allowed to climb up with the craftsmen restoring the landmark building:

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Our next stop was Wyoming Valley School. I have posted geometric photos in the past, but I found new lines to photograph Wednesday as Mary Pohlman told our guests about the school:

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I found a new way to show one of the many mitered windows:

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After lunch at Riverview Terrace, it was on for a Cate-led tour of Taliesin. What could I see differently? The first two photographs are reflections in windows:

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Percy Jackson (Hamblen) thinks he rules the roost (Fifi Montooth sometimes loudly challenges Percy, but she can never catches him):

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Inside the original drafting studio:

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In Mrs. Wright’s bedroom:

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Outside Mr. Wright’s bedroom:

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I struck out at Hillside Home and School, but that is okay…I can’t force pictures that don’t present themselves to me. Earlier Cate had urged me not to miss photographing Kevin Dodds (white shirt) from Taliesin Preservation and Michael DiPadova from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation as they rebuild the Tea Circle:

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I leave you with one more “Selfie,” my reflection in the trim of the headlight of Jim’s Volvo:

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Thank you for joining me on my photo adventures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographing Wright for the Umpteenth Time

Photos and Text (c) Mark Hertzberg (2019)

When I take guests on Frank Lloyd Wright tours for Road Scholar I tell them that one of the joys of Wright’s architecture is the possibility of seeing new things on every visit to places one has been to before. I always take my cameras with me on the Road Scholar tours for that reason and on my fifth tour for them, two weeks ago, I saw new things in buildings I have photographed many times. Alas, I did not find new things at every site we visited.

My first discoveries were at 2734 W. Burnham Street in Milwaukee, an American System-Built duplex being restored by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block. The walls have now been stripped off and I saw these things, including the incinerator chute in the kitchen. The first photo is the view from the living room into the kitchen:

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I have photographed the Unitarian Meeting House in Madison many times. This visit I saw these views of the church. I hope to see the new copper roof by the time of my scheduled fall visits:

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I also saw a picture which spoke to the church’s statement of what Unitarianism is about, a collection of May poles amidst a “Black Lives Matter” sign. No matter what one’s beliefs, this is what the church believes, which is why the church exists, which is why there was a building for Frank Lloyd Wright to design:

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I have enjoyed photographing one of Wright’s smaller commissions, the Wyoming Valley School. This is what I saw differently this time:

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At Riverview Terrace (the Visitors Center at Taliesin), I was struck by the colors on a tree in the driveway:

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Then, of course, there was Taliesin. One of the guests asked why there are no art glass windows in the house. Cate Boldt (our superb docent) explained that Wright had no reason to shield the house for privacy and art glass windows would have blocked the views of his beloved land. What did Wright see?

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Windows looking out from the guest room were uncovered in December, 2017:

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The “Hoffman rug” in the living room has been taken out:

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The Romeo and Juliet Windmill and Tanyderi:

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And, then, finally, this was the first time I saw the drafting room at Hillside Home and School without students, which meant I could go into the room and take pictures:

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The tour I accompany for three days for Road Scholar is: https://www.roadscholar.org/find-an-adventure/22976/architectural-masterworks-of-frank-lloyd-wright

 

 

Wright on the Fly

(c) Mark Hertzberg 2017

Some of my favorite Wright photos were shot on the fly this week as I accompanied a Wright adventure sponsored by Road Scholar and the Jewish Community Center of Chicago as their Wright resource person in Racine, Milwaukee, Madison, and Spring Green. I sometimes shoot pictures more deliberately, with an appointment to photograph. This week’s photos were shot on the fly, during group tours. I posted some Wednesday. Here are photos from today. The first two are at Wyoming Valley School, the last two at Taliesin.

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The trip ended this evening. What will my next Wright adventure be?

Gene’s First Photos of the Hardy House

Mark Hertzberg (c) 2017

I have written before that the late Gene Szymczak was captivated by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Thomas P. Hardy House long before he ever thought of buying it (in 2012). He told me that the house was on his garbage route when he worked a summer job. A few years later, in 1977, he bought a Leica CL camera and took pictures of things that moved him, including the Hardy House. He returned the camera because he thought it too extravagant for him. Yesterday his sister-in-law, Joan Szymczak, excitedly called to tell me that she had found Gene’s Leica-Hardy photos, photos Gene couldn’t find when I asked him about them. Here they are:Gene Hardy 1.jpg

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Gene died unexpectedly December 3, but his family continues to share the house as he would have. Thank you, Gene, for your gift of having rehabilitated the house and wanting to share it. I will be taking a group of Road Scholar tour participants through the house this afternoon. When I took him through the house as a prospective buyer he said to me, “I don’t have children. This is something I could do for Racine.” And he did.Gene Szymczak 002.jpg