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Wright, Taliesin and *.
Posted: Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:10 pm
I think it is well to keep in mind the broader social context that the Taliesin fellowship existed in during the Wright years from 1932-1959. Societal tolerance of, let alone acceptance of * was essentially nonexistant. I'm not certain but I think it is a fair bet that * was probably illegal in the states of Wisconsin and Arizona during that entire period. The major psycological organizations at the time still considered it to be an "illness" to be cured. The social stigma against any organization that was publically perceived as "harboring" * would have been significant.
Frank Lloyd Wright was enough of a "man of the world" to perceive the personalities of the young people he chose to admit into this organization. I gather that a "don't ask, don't tell" policy was in effect with regard to the young men and women who worked at Taliesin - as far as FLlW was concerned. Olgivanna may have thought and acted differently - I don't know. I think FLlW's own unconvential personal life may have made him relatively open-minded when it came to judging other's private lives. His Unitarian background may have also contributed to this liberal outlook.
FLlW was a product of the 19th century, having been born in 1867. The fact that he knowingly worked with and did what he could to accommodate * at the fellowship within the context of a totally hostile american culture is something to consider before judging him by the standards of 2006.
Posted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 8:34 am
A former apprentice told me of an incident in the late 30s at a Taliesin costume party. One of the apprentices, a slightly built, extremely effeminate man who made no bones about his *, arrived at the party late, in full drag, dressed as a Spanish dancer, mantilla and all. When he entered the room, silence fell on the crowd, the quartette stopped playing, there were a few gasps. Mr. Wright turned around to see what was going on. Seeing the young man, who was quite convincing in his costume, Wright turned to the quartette and said: "A waltz, please." Then he approached the Spanish dancer, bowed, held out his hand and said: "May I have this dance?" And they danced around the living room at Taliesin while Olga fumed. (She had no sense of humor.) Later, for a game, a form of charades, the apprentices performed imitations of one another, and they had to guess who. The dancer did a scathing imitation of Olga. Frank laughed heartily; Olga stormed out of the room.
Posted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 2:46 pm
Roderick Grant wrote:"May I have this dance?"....... The dancer did a scathing imitation of Olga. Frank laughed heartily; Olga stormed out of the room.
Just absolutely priceless.......
Posted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 8:49 pm
Seeing the young man, who was quite convincing in his costume, Wright turned to the quartette and said: "A waltz, please." Then he approached the Spanish dancer, bowed, held out his hand and said: "May I have this dance?" And they danced around the living room at Taliesin.
I can only say: that's priceless.
Of course, we have to wonder whether FLW knew this was a man (I'm thinking of Ling Po's mother who saw him dressed up for a play as a woman, and she kept trying to get him introduced to that "good Chinese girl").
On the other hand, if FLW knew it was a woman, that was just wonderful.
Posted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 8:51 pm
knew it was a woman
ah, knew it was a man, I mean. [I really should have previewed that reply, sorry.]
Posted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:39 pm
A few years ago I talked to one of the original Fellowship apprentices who readily acknowleged that some colleagues were gay. That is no great secret.
Home movies from Taliesin in the early 30s give the sense of a free-spirited community. I do not mean that in a negative way. Certainly they worked and had great demands put on them, but we also see the apprentices having fun.
They were part of a special community. Thirty Five years later it may have been called a 'commune,' but that term has negative connotations for some people, within the context of the Sixties and Seventies. We see Mr. Wright carry a watermelon into the county fair in the movie, and then share it with the apprentices as they watch horse racing in the grandstands.
Posted: Tue Apr 11, 2006 3:15 am
Mark Hertzberg wrote: We see Mr. Wright carry a watermelon into the county fair in the movie,
I saw part of this neat film in a video I have around somewhere. Frank also makes decidedly goofy gestures towards the camera. Considering his usual propensity to be "on" in public, it was nice to see him in unguarded moments having a good time. You can hear and read about the experience of being in his presence, but these home movies are treasures and all we'll ever have as a substitute.
It always seemed to me that those first years must have been the best of times to be a fellow. Some of the worst of times were occurring outside their bubble, and the initial cohesion and sense of purpose must have been exhiliarating. Then things just got wierd.