Sunday, February 21, 2010

Taliesin West

The last art-related thing on our trip to Arizona that I haven't blogged about is the first one we did, which was our visit to Taliesin West. This is the home/school Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built in the desert outside of Scottsdale, his winter home.

I've been putting off blogging about it because I feel I should really have something fine to say about it. Something worthy of it. I don't. I mean, it was awesome. We took the three-hour tour, and I'd recommend it. It really was worth the $60.

It was worth it because it was really nice to be able to see the whole place, or at least as much as is open to the public: the living areas, the working areas, the gardens, the guest house. It's still functioning as a school, the docents made clear; and those docents - what a trip. We were guided around by this elderly German woman who knew Mr. Wright, and spoke of him in very reverent tones. At break time we were seated at a table with this even older woman in a wheelchair who had spent most of her youth with Wright at the two Taliesins, and from her wheelchair she regaled us with tales of life at the school. Both of these women, as well as the way everybody stressed the self-contained nature of life at Taliesin (Wright really seems to have controlled all aspects of his students' lives) reminded me a lot of some of the religious colonies I've visited - Amana, for example. A totally secular modernist cult? Not so far-fetched, I guess...

But that's a little paranoid. Mostly it was just three hours of looking at beautiful, even noble modernist architecture that really does live up to its promise. Interacting respectfully with the landscape, while at the same time feeling extremely mod and aesthetically well-thought-out. In fact it almost felt comfortable - Wright's stuff, if taken to its logical conclusion, can lead to unhappy hipsters, but I don't think I'd be too unhappy living there.

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