Wednesday, September 3, 2008

at long last

Something most people don't know about me is that I have two master's degrees. The first one is in Art History, and my thesis was on Marion Mahony Griffin, a woman who was one of the first to finish architecture school, and who worked in Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie School studio in the early 20th century. Wright gave her the job of designing motifs for detailing and such, but also she was an exquisite draftsman and my thesis maintained that she did many of the beautiful architectural drawings that are attributed to Wright. I published an article about this back in 1974, and now it's common knowledge that this is true, although many (male) historians of Wright's work don't give her the credit. The Wikipedia entry does point to her important contribution of drawings.

Anyway, I've never been to Wright's Fallingwater, the Kaufmann house in Pennsylvania, and friends in Santa Fe suggested I go, since it wasn't far from Pittsburgh. There comes a time in your life when you start to think, will I ever be here again? And I thought: no. Furthermore, I will not do another cross-country car trip, because while it was fun going out, it was way less fun coming back. I kept imagining that I was having a stroke or something, but it was just headache from muscle stress and tension. I mean, if you're driving in hilly territory and you've got double semis bearing down on you on the downhill, you get a little tense.

So I did go to Fallingwater on my last driving day, and it was well worth the long but beautiful detour on one of Pennsylvania's "scenic auto tour" roads. There were lots of people there and you have to reserve a spot on a tour. On Labor Day they had over 60 separate groups of 10 or 12, but Tuesday was quieter, if still quite briskly busy. The house is wonderful, really interesting and lovely. What a crazy commute it must have been back when the Kaufmanns spent weekends there. It's all open, lots of glass, eclectic furnishings that include the built-ins that Kaufmann the younger designed, as he was an apprentice in Wright's studio; but also Diego Rivera paintings, several Hiroshige prints plus a Hokusai, Southwest stuff, Picasso prints, books galore (I spotted a Vincent Scully, wondering when that would have been added.)

There is often a little waterfall inside the house, but it's been a tad dry, I guess. You can see from the photo that there is a stairway that goes right down to the stream from the living room and of course the sound of rushing water is everywhere. I bought a few gifts, grabbed a sandwich, and left at around 2:15 to continue my drive home.

Construction and road painting in the area caused traffic to stop. Then, I missed an exit, feeling too confident that I knew where I was going, which caused a severe delay as I wended through cornfields, praying that I would once again find the desired route 78. Once I did, I was again delayed as an accident stopped all traffic on the highway. Needless to say, it was ridiculously late by the time I got home, having practically propped my weary eyes open and going around 55 mph in the right hand lane because I couldn't see all that well at night.

And so, dear friends, my blog comes to an end for now. I'm back in Brooklyn, amongst the Poles, hipsters and pizza by the slice. Have I reached the enlightenment I sought? No, not really. But it was a great summer and life has shifted- not sure where, but as Rilke said, "Live the questions and one day you will live into the answer." Or something like that. Thank you to everyone who commented or emailed me to say they enjoyed it. Now we turn to the entertainment that is called electing a president. Check out Huffington and Kos.

And until the next time- Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.