Conservancy conference-Day Two

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Mark Hertzberg
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Conservancy conference-Day Two

Post by Mark Hertzberg »

I have posted my photos and report from Thursday's session (panel discussion, Sidney Robinson, and tours) to www.wrightinracine.com The link is on the right side. There is one quote from Blair Kamin that you are certain to mull over and enjoy (that is my teaser to get you to the blog!)

Mark Hertzberg
Mark Hertzberg

pharding
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Post by pharding »

There is a hollow illusion of superficial truth in what he said that merits discussion. From my point of view "he is spitting in the soup". It is an ironic comment coming from someone who writes about architecture for a living. This is an especially ironic statement given that the general level of buildings built in Chicago right now is the lowest that it has been in my lifetime. The last few years has seen a proliferation of truly awful and highly visible condo buildings of all stripes in Chicago that have acne scarred the beautiful face of Chicago. He just ignores this trashing of Chicago when he is in a position to really do some good for our built environment in Chicago. He is also blind to the sustainable buildings being done outside of Chicago that merit exposure to the general public here in Chicago. He totally ignores the importance of urban planning in Chicago and refuses to acknowledge great examples of planning and urban design in Milwaukee and elsewhere, like Portland, Oregon. Like any other comment one has to consider the source.
Last edited by pharding on Tue Oct 23, 2007 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

SDR
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Post by SDR »

I expect that perhaps Mr Kamin enjoys playing "devil's advocate." Of course there is a dark side of Mr Wright -- but let people get that through reading, not while trying to enjoy the work.

On the matter of "not being able to sit down" while touring a building -- why not move the original seating pieces to a museum, replacing them on-site with replicas that can actually be used ? I could envision this as the norm for accessible historic structures, some day. It is surely true that adjustments must be made when going from private to public.

No more ribbons and signs on the furniture ! (Shoe covers or socks-only should still be in effect, of course. . .)

SDR

Mark Hertzberg
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Post by Mark Hertzberg »

I am glad to see a robust discussion. May I ask that you also post your comments in the comments section of my blog? I want to stimulate debate on the site itself. I have gotten two private e-mails with comments I wish I could post. One asked if there had been a contrast brought up between the 'no touching' and 'experience the furniture fully' sites. Gunny Harboe's experience at the Met relates to that question.

Mark Hertzberg
Mark Hertzberg

MHOLUBAR
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Post by MHOLUBAR »

Mark I have tried to post a reply but it seems to be difficult to register with the Journal Times if you live outside of the area. It was great to go over the conference discussions again. At the Weltzheimer House in Oberlin we are trying to give visitors access to the simple pleasures of being in a FLW house. including allowing contributing docents overnight stays in the house when we are not open to the public. I am trying to replicate the furniture that was in the house about 1953. Very little of the furniture was left, except the built in furniture, and it has taken close to a year to get the approval of the FLW Foundation to adequately equip the house. The Foundation is very careful to try and preserve and protect original items for their former clients and the many Museums that have collected original items. I was talking at the Conference to a docent from the Zimmerman house about the original equipment being such a mixed blessing.
For those who have not taken the opportunity to visit SAMARA in West LaFayette, Indiana Dr. Christian, the original client, asks all visitors to sit and stay while he regales them with stories about the house. In fact, when asked how much the house cost, he said he didn't know but he still had all the reciepts and we were welcome to add them all up.
mholubar

Mark Hertzberg
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Post by Mark Hertzberg »

Please e-mail me at mhertzberg@journaltimes.com with contact information so I can find out why you can't post. Are you willing to try again; maybe the server was down.

Thanks.

mark Hertzberg
Mark Hertzberg

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

When writing reviews, the subject of the review is not all there is to it; the quality of the writing itself tends to play as big a role as the cogency of the content. When Brendan Gill was named architecture critic of the New Yorker, Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. wrote to the editor, "You have just hired the Louella O. Parsons of architecture criticism," a comment that earned him a bitchy obituary from Gill shortly thereafter. The point being, it was not Gill's understanding of architecture that got him the job, but his excellent writing. It is not necessarily logical to assume a critic of any sort is an expert on the subject he critiques. I don't know if Kamin was playing devil's advocate or just trying to shock, but the Kool-aid comment was needless. The simple fact of the habit of calling FLW "Mr. Wright" is that he comported himself as a true Victorian all his life; the address seems appropriate. He was well-dressed the way Adolph Menjou or Lucius Beebe were. All he needed was spats.

I also wish ribbons and "Don't Sit!" signs would go away. Placing originals in museums and putting copies in the houses seems like a reasonable approach. When I attended the opening of the Northome living room exhibit at the Met in 1983, Don Lovness comported himself on an original chair on display, and no one said a word! "I sit on this stuff every day of my life," he said. I was just waiting for him to light up a cigar.

Mark Hertzberg
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Post by Mark Hertzberg »

The comment worked for the audience in the context of the discussion, making the point that not everyone on tour (as evidenced by some of the statistics) is steeped in Wright history and lore. Bear in mind this was a spontaneous panel discussion, not a prepared speech by anyone.

Mark Hertzberg
Mark Hertzberg

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Almost any chair in sound condition with undamaged upholstery should be capable of taking on without harm the occasional "passenger" whose clothing is clean and free of metallic projections and who sits respectfully. But it is understandable that none of these conditions can be assured when the public is invited to use such a chair, all day and every day.

It would obviously be of benefit in more than one way for the visitor to be able to use the furnishings designed for the space.

It is not only as a furnituremaker that I advocate the construction of replicas, you understand. . .!

SDR

pharding
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Post by pharding »

Mark Hertzberg wrote:The comment worked for the audience in the context of the discussion, making the point that not everyone on tour (as evidenced by some of the statistics) is steeped in Wright history and lore. Bear in mind this was a spontaneous panel discussion, not a prepared speech by anyone.

Mark Hertzberg
That is like saying that Michael Richard's horrible comments worked for his audience and should be excused because they were spontaneous. A stupid, senseless comment like that coming from an architectural critic from the Chicago Tribune is inexcusable. Blair Kamin aspires to be respected and to speak with moral authority on important architectural and urban design issues for a very important newspaper in an important city with a rich architectural heritage. It is not like he is working for the Hollywood Reporter. He writes glowing articles about Frank Gehry whose work will never stand the test of time because he does the same obnoxious aesthetic everywhere irregardless of the program or context. If anyone drank the kool-aid on that irresponsible body of irrelevant shapes it is Blair Kamin. Yet he makes a disparaging, stupid remarks about people interested in learning more about the work, not the life, of America's greatest architect, who also happens to be a "Chicago" architect with many great buildings here. What are people supposed to get interested in, mindless precast concrete condo high-rises, or cookie cutter civic buildings that plague a great city that he politely ignores. Architecture critics are supposed to work to advance the appreciation of quality architecture and our architectural heritage because they of all people should know how important it is. I agree that Frank Lloyd Wright did some awful things on a personal level, but he never under-achieved on a professional level.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

MHOLUBAR
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Post by MHOLUBAR »

I think Mr Harding has proven himself a true 'Frankenstein' in the parlance of the last meeting. Certainly Michael Richard's racist comments did provoke some discussion of racial disparity in the public press, that would be the silver lining hidden behind a stupid remark. As one who occasionally imbibes the Cherokee red Kool aid I would like to thank Mr. Copeland and Copeland Furniture for bringing some beautiful replicas we could all sit in and enjoy.
mholubar

pharding
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Post by pharding »

MHOLUBAR wrote:I think Mr Harding has proven himself a true 'Frankenstein' in the parlance of the last meeting. .....
I take exception with the Frankenstein statement. Look at my positions on fidelity to architectural history. On projects that FLW worked on in the employment of Louis Sullivan, specifically the Louis Sullivan Cottage, Charnley Cottage, and Charnley House I have always written that crediting FLW for the design of these Sullivan buildings was wrong and contrary to history and architectural practice. Wright Disneyland Buildings in Buffalo is still Disneyland even if it credited to FLW. Furthermore with the Davenport House I have spent an enormous sum of money to restore the house to the way it was actually built, warts and all. I didn't editorialize to make the house more perfectly Wright. In my presentation at the 07 FLWBC Annual Conference on our fine research and restoration work on the Davenport House, I accurately credited the Original Architect as Frank Lloyd Wright and Webster Tomlinson. I have been a strong advocate of recognizing SOM as the Owner and Restoration Architect for the Charnley House Restoration. The consistent thread in all of this is that I have been a strong advocate for fidelity to architectural history as opposed to expanding the accomplishments of Frank Lloyd Wright. What I care about first and foremost on a personal level, isn't Frank Lloyd Wright, but the importance of quality architecture in our built environment and preserving architectural history for future generations. Blair Kamin's reference to "drinking the Kool-aid" is hyper-loaded with awful, insulting inferences, that I take exception to. How appropriate is it to link the deaths of 400 people to the enthusiasm for the WORK of a great Chicago Architect? This is especially galling in that Blair is supposed to advocate for architectural excellence and historic preservation in my hometown of Chicago.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

Mark Hertzberg
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Post by Mark Hertzberg »

Our www.wrightinracine.com web site is temporarily down, in case you are trying to read the story about the Conservancy that has generated this discussion. We have calls in to the service providers for the newspaper, so please be patient and try again later.

Thanks.

Mark Hertzberg
Mark Hertzberg

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

I told a friend of mine who has been a docent and given tours of the Dana House for over twenty years about Blair Kamin's comment regarding the use of the title "Mr. Wright" instead of using his given name: Frank Lloyd Wright. His comment brought up an issue that I, as a non-tour guide, had not thought of. He said during a normal 45 minute tour he had to reference FLW many times and had found that using his full name was cumbersome and using "Mr. Wright" was shorter and easier to say numerous times, thus a time-saver.

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »

Paul Ringstrom wrote:I told a friend of mine who has been a docent and given tours of the Dana House for over twenty years about Blair Kamin's comment regarding the use of the title "Mr. Wright" instead of using his given name: Frank Lloyd Wright. His comment brought up an issue that I, as a non-tour guide, had not thought of. He said during a normal 45 minute tour he had to reference FLW many times and had found that using his full name was cumbersome and using "Mr. Wright" was shorter and easier to say numerous times, thus a time-saver.

If you go by number of syllables spoken, it's a wash:

Frank/Lloyd/Wright = Mis/ter/Wright


David

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