Thursday, March 12, 2009

Books, Brochures, Bartlesville

Several new objects came home with us after last weekend's road trip through Arkansas and Oklahoma, most of them books or pamphlets from The Price Tower, Frank Lloyd Wright's only skyscraper. Wright called the tower "a tree that escaped the crowded forest." Its main form (the trunk) is a square, made more interesting by the intersecting squares (branches) that bisect it at rotated angles, creating triangular balconies and stairwells. This book, which we bought at the Arts Center on the ground floor, has an interesting history of its construction.

The current exhibit at the Arts Center, "Fallingwater en Perspectiva," features oil paintings of what is probably the most famous home in America. The artist, FĂ©lix de la Concha, is from Spain. This lucky (and talented) guy got to spend 14 months in residence at Fallingwater, painting it from dozens of perspectives over the span of several seasons. The brochure shows him with one of a series of paintings that, when hung side-by-side, create a 360-degree view of the living/dining room, each from different, slightly over-lapping angles. Stretched across an entire wall of the gallery, this grouping was stunning and a bit dizzying. (The curator complained that it was hard to hang because the paintings were at all sorts of odd angles.) This photo was taken from the exhibit website, which has many other images from the exhibit. (Click on the photo for a larger view.)

I love collecting brochures like this from places I visit. Even if I take scads of photos of a place, when I stumble across a tattered and yellowed brochure years later, it brings back memories -- who I was with, what the weather was like, what kind of flowers were in bloom, details of artworks and facts that I've long forgotten. Even better, brochures don't cost anything and don't take up much room.

Frink, on the other hand, is a collector, especially of coffee mugs, which take up A LOT of space. (If all the neighborhood Starbucks lose their coffee cups in an earthquake, we've got them covered. Someday I'll write a post about our dueling Oscar & Felix personalities when it comes to collecting things.) Frink hoped to buy a mug showing the Price Tower or its cool Wright-designed logo. (The originals are hard to find and beyond our means. Six cups sold at auction recently for $3,000 and two plates sold for $1000 each.) But, aside from some pens and a poster of Wright's presentation drawing, the giftshop didn't have anything depicting Price Tower or its logo. The guide said the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation claims copyright on all plans and images of his work. For this reason, visitors aren't allowed to photograph the interiors. It seems strange that the owners of the actual building aren't allowed to sell souvenirs showing their own property. But we followed the rules and didn't take interior photos (except of our room--shhh, don't tell anyone.) I did find some excellent pictures online if you're interested.

We also picked up a guide to Bruce Goff's architecture in Oklahoma, and a DVD about Shin'enKan, a home he designed in Bartlesville that was destroyed by arson in 1996. Goff was an architect who worked primarily in the Midwest in an astonishing array of styles, from Prairie to Art Deco to what I call Dean-Martin-Meets-James-Bond Martini Modern. Shin'enKan, a hip bachelor pad built for a wealthy young client, was definitely Martini Modern.

Goff had an affection for recycling found objects long before it was trendy, and a key feature of Shin'enKan was aqua blue glass, left over from glass manufacturing. It was shattered into faceted chunks, which Goff incorporated into the walls of many of his buildings.

This blog has some amazing photos of Goff's designs, including this photo of the lost house in Bartlesville.

For more on our visit to The Price Tower and Bruce Goff's Oklahoma buildings, please visit my travel blog.


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  2. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Frankie, I live 40 miles from Bartlesville and used to live there. Two of my three children were born there.

  4. Margie--we really enjoyed our stay there and will definitely be back. It's a pretty area, there on the edge of the Ozarks. And for architecture lovers, a lot of cool buildings.