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June 11, 2009 / howardmestas

ARCHITECTURE IS COOL AFTERALL

LLOYD WRIGHT TOURAlthough I am physically drained from today’s events, I wished every day could be so interesting. Let me be the first to admit that I wasn’t totally excited when I looked at the syllabus back in January and saw that we would be spending an entire morning session on a Frank Lloyd Wright Studio Tour. I mean, I knew who he was because I like to watch the Antiques Road Show on PBS, but I really felt like it was just something I couldn’t possibly be interested in. Once again my preconceived ignorance about a subject put me in a position where I had to admit I was wrong. Now I must prepare to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to learn more about this topic in the future; who knew architecture could be so much fun?

This was truly an enjoyable experience and testament to how one person’s talent and confidence can inspire such an impact on society. What an American story! Could he really have only been 21 when he built that house? Think about it;

• A young genius comes up with a fresh and innovative approach to doing things
• He insists on doing it his way, even though others look at him oddly at first
• Others on a local level began to take notice, perhaps with envy
• He makes buckets of money doing the things he loves most
• Before long his influence begins to take over a city, in this case a very large city
• Eventually his ideas spread throughout the Midwest, then all of America
• 100 years later, teachers are still blogging about him on web pages
• Still others will watch rich people buy his things on the Antiques Road Show
• Is this a great country or what?

Next we got to traipse around Wright’s Oak Park neighborhood and see some of the houses he built. This was the most enjoyable part of the day. Even if the homes weren’t built by him, they were all beautiful; especially with the incredible trees surrounding them.

Next on the agenda was a visit to the monstrous Museum of Science and Industry, which was modeled after the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. After watching a couple of presentations about the “White City” we were once again on a walking tour around the complex. I found it curious that throughout the presentations, nothing was mentioned about the hypocrisy of the exposition as explained to us last fall by Montana State professor, Robert Rydell, an expert on the White City. Rydell’s edition of an original pamphlet by Ida Wells and Frederick Douglass called, “The Reason Why The Colored American Is Not in The World’s Columbian Exposition,” reveals how fair promoters excluded the contributions of African Americans and would not let them into the gates of the “White City.” If nothing else, the fair denigrated and ridiculed any progress of African Americans and even allowed a Harper’s Weekly circular with racist caricatures to circulate inside the walls with the title, “Darkies Day at the Fair.” A picture of the caricature is in Rydell’s book and it is pretty disgusting. The exclusion of that information almost seemed like a deliberate cover up since, just like 1893, promoters did not want bad publicity.

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3 Comments

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  1. marksims / Jun 13 2009 3:04 am

    Anything negative about Wright’s personal life that deflates this Ameican Dream for you? It did for me to some extent.

    • howardmestas / Jun 14 2009 5:25 am

      Yes, of course. He was a horrible father and even worse husband. I don’t think I would have liked him personally and definitely wouldn’t have wanted him as an inlaw. But that shouldn’t detract from his greatness. Think of how many buttheads who have made America great; JFK, FDR, T. Jefferson, Donald Trump, Kobe Bryant, etc. Most people still like them even when we learn of imperfections in their personal lives.

      How would you evaluate yourself years from now if you found out from a former student that they did not (and still do not) like you personally, yet they felt lucky to have had you as a teacher? You still were a good teacher and accomplished your task, so it shouldn’t detract from what you think about yourself.

  2. lemo1 / Jun 12 2009 12:21 am

    Definitely correct about Frank Lloyd Wright being “an American story.” He made human mistakes, as we all do, but truly a genius…Ray

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