Thursday, April 29, 2010

Frank Lloyd Wright's apprentice asked me to take my shirt off

It's true. I won't say which one, but he's still living, and he helped to design and oversee the construction of Fallingwater.

It happened when he was visiting for an event and two other female Fallingwater staff members and I were keeping him company in the servant's sitting room behind the kitchen. It's one of those things I won't forget, understandably. Out of the blue he said to the three of us, "So which one of you ladies is going to take your blouse off?" First of all, I love the word "blouse"--not too many people use it anymore. But then, how does one respond to a request like that? In our case, it was nervous laughing and shared crazy-eyed smiles. What can you do? You just go on from there, right?

In a presence like that, you expect insightful epitaphs, previously unrecorded details about the process of creating a masterpiece. But you realize that the "gods" that made such a beautiful place a reality are really just people. And the reverence I have for it only reveals that it's a place that is continually, collectively created by all of us who experience it.

With that in mind, I ask you, blog readers: which one of you is going to take your blouse off?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Moxie Out on the Town

Yesterday I went to a book signing for a new children's book about Fallingwater, Moxie the Dachshund of Fallingwater, by Fallingwater's Curator of Education, Cara Armstrong.

Moxie has really been hitting the town lately. She's certainly been getting more and more press and appearance dates. Written from the point of view of one of the Kaufmann family's dachshunds--a breed which, it is worth noting, nicely continues the horizontal lines of the house--the book helps to make Fallingwater's ideas accessible to kids.

A lot of creativity comes out of Fallingwater. It's a place which, nearly 75 years after its construction, continues to inspire fresh ideas in those who spend time there. It's one of those places whose message is perennial, but like Frank Lloyd Wright's organic architecture itself, its philosophy takes shape in an endless number of forms, depending on what, where, when, why, and by whom that form is created.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fallingwater Dreams

Some people have dreams about having to give a speech and not remembering what to say, or about finding themselves naked in public. I have dreams about giving tours at Fallingwater that go maddeningly wrong in one way or another or, in most cases, in many ways at once. They often involve groups of visitors that go wild--people rolling around on the original Frank Lloyd Wright-designed furniture, breaking things, and straying from the tour chaotically.

In real life, of course, this kind of thing hardly ever happened, at least not on such a large scale. But the fear of it obviously still lingers in my consciousness. I worked at Fallingwater from 1996 to 2005, but years later the impact of wanting to simultaneously share and protect the place stays with me and haunts my dreamlife. I'm still there all the time, even though I'm not.