Sunday, March 24, 2013

when I run dry

Taliesin West, just outside of Scottsdale, is where Frank Lloyd Wright moved - in his seventies - to take advantage of the warm dry Arizona winters and the cheap $12.50/acre land.  He always meant it to be a temporary camp.  The buildings were constructed to be open to the elements, with no glass in the windows and canvas on the roofs. 

Architecture students who studied with him there in the barren desert slept in tents until they completed their own shelters in the desert, and were pressed into service hauling rocks down from the hills for masonry and building the only road by hand.  They were also expected to participate in formal evenings.  Evidently FLW instructed those students applying to study with him at Taliesin West to bring a tuxedo or ball gown, and a sleeping bag.

Frank Lloyd Wright was a bit of an eccentric kook and, from what I understand, somewhat of a dick, but there is no denying that he was a genius.  And he built structures that resonate with my soul.  Photos of the inside of Taliesin West and its inner courtyard are not permitted, but after a 90 minute tour on the second day of our great Southwestern desert odyssey, its striking lines and dramatic desert presence will be forever burned into my psyche. 

Also forever burned into my memory will be the rounds of Cards Against Humanity that we played later that evening on the back deck of the condo. Nights are mighty cool in the Sonoran desert and the sun sets around 6pm, so with a fire crackling in the outdoor fireplace to keep us cozy in the dark, we guffawed and snorted and wiped tears of laughter from our eyes and snots of laughter from our noses. Who knows what the neighbours assumed the loony Canucks were up to?  

Yet to come, a pilgrimage to Phoenix for the beautiful Heard Museum, a sojourn to Salt River Fields for spring training baseball, desert hikes, pancakes and neighbourhood bars.


eugene.knapik said...

Tuxedo and sleeping bag is a delightful combination.

Lesley said...

I feel like I have the same assessment whenever I visit a place where a brilliant artist once was: eccentric, genius, kind of a dick. I certainly agreed with you here, and I visited FLW in AZ when I was 16, so imagine my opinion at that age. :)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I can barely imagine packing anything fancier than jeans when I travel, Euguene, and that's when I stay in a hotel that has running water and such.

I wonder if those traits are a prerequisite for genius, Lesley? Certainly easy ones for a 16 year old to spot!