Attention Chicagoland, Rosenbaum documentary at the Siskel

To control SPAM, you must now be a registered user to post to this Message Board.

EFFECTIVE 14 Nov. 2012 PRIVATE MESSAGING HAS BEEN RE-ENABLED. IF YOU RECEIVE A SUSPICIOUS DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS AND PLEASE REPORT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION.

This is the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy's Message Board. Wright enthusiasts can post questions and comments, and other people visiting the site can respond.

You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, *-oriented or any other material that may violate any applicable laws. Doing so may lead to you being immediately and permanently banned (and your service provider being informed). The IP address of all posts is recorded to aid in enforcing these conditions. You agree that the webmaster, administrator and moderators of this forum have the right to remove, edit, move or close any topic at any time they see fit.
peterm
Posts: 6188
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Attention Chicagoland, Rosenbaum documentary at the Siskel

Post by peterm »

https://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/a-hous ... t-or-wrong

We’re going tomorrow, Saturday 5:15. Maybe I’ll see some of you WCers there?

SDR
Posts: 18686
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

" . . . finds parallels between the design eccentricities that the famously inflexible architect imposed on his clients and the twisting and constricted course of dysfunctional family histories that veer into alienation and tragedy."

Not too be outdone by "Plagued by Fire" ? If it bleeds, it leads ? Anyway, there will no doubt be fresh images of the house, lure enough for me . . .!

S

DRN
Posts: 3890
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:02 am
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Post by DRN »

Pardon my rant, but this continual portrayal of Wright as inflexible, and his seemingly wanton disregard for his clients' wants, needs, not to mention budgets, has become the stock and trade of quick turnaround Wright journalism. Possibly even some of the longer turnaround work, such as books.

These tales of snarky quips uttered by Wright, and clients not being listened to, have been portrayed as the norm when I believe they were less frequent, at least from what I have learned of actual client accounts. Roland Reisley's famous quote of Wright: "Tell me what you want, or you'll have to take what I give you.", was said partly in jest and as a means to tell Roland to communicate with him and tell him what was needed and wanted, so Wright could provide it. Otherwise, the architect is left to guessing.

Some might say Wright said this because Roland was only 26 at the time. However, from what I have been told by the Sweeton family, and from what I read and have seen in their correspondence and drawings, Wright was very open to revision to meet his clients' (then in their early 40's) wants and needs.

It is clear from the Dudley Spencer correspondence that Wright could become brusque if one questioned him on his design strategy or dictated to him aesthetics. Revisions requested to address practical needs and living or experiential preferences, by contrast, seemed to be honored and meticulously followed as much as budget would allow.

But the masses don't want to hear this, or some journalists, and some docents, don’t think they do. Instead, tall tales of a promiscuous, arrogant bastard are peppered in. I'm certain Wright had an ego the size of a city, and he could be fluid on facts, but I believe his snarkyness was reserved for those who provoked it.
Last edited by DRN on Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

peterm
Posts: 6188
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

The film will include numerous interviews with the Rosenbaum children, and there will be a q and a afterwards with Jonathan Rosenbaum (famous Chicago film critic who grew up in the house). Let’s see if the film is nuanced, or not.

Duncan
Posts: 84
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 11:05 pm

Post by Duncan »

When talking with Elizabeth Richardson (S.282, 1940) she said that the first plans they saw had no kitchen window. She said, "I have to have a window in the kitchen." Mr. Wright replied something like, "Madame, you do not understand, women have been liberated from the kitchen." Then, turning to her husband, said "Stu, let's you and I talk business." The next day when they returned to discuss the revised plan, there were the two glorious opening windows in the kitchen, even better than she had hoped for. Mr. Wright did not say anything and the Richardsons did not say anything. Wright was certainly flexible and adaptive to his clients's needs in this case. Mrs. Richardson only had good things to say about Wright and their house.

After the house was completed, and Mr. Wright came to visit, the Richardsons were terrified what he would say because, due to a change in site, they screened in the carport as a porch. Mr. Wright walked thru the screened porch and into the house, saying about this change from his plans.

Where some see arrogance, perhaps it was a little saving of egos on all sides. Not a bad thing, all in all.

Paul Ringstrom
Posts: 4259
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2005 4:53 pm
Location: Mason City, IA

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

Is this movie available on DVD?
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

peterm
Posts: 6188
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

I’ll find out tomorrow.

peterm
Posts: 6188
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

I just returned from watching the film. It is primarily about two families, using the Rosenbaum house and the houses of the filmmaker in Tehran and Chicago as a backdrop and metaphor for the experiences and relationships of the inhabitants. There is footage of the late Mildred Rosenbaum and each of the surviving Rosenbaum boys. Interviews with each child reveal different perspectives of growing up in a Wright house. The filmmaker chose to not always film the house in the most flattering manner, often heightening a claustrophobic and melancholic mood.
The story of the family is remarkable, and reminds us that even the best architecture can’t solve every personal problem.

I don’t think it’s available yet on dvd, but surely will be soon.

SDR
Posts: 18686
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Thanks for the report, Peter.

The announcement you posted contained the phrase, "Documenting the home over a period of years, beginning at a time when it was still occupied
by the critic’s mother . . ." Is that a fair description of the film as you saw it---one aspect of it, anyway---"documenting the home" ?

I suppose I hadn't been aware of Jonathan Rosenbaum's career and work. I do vaguely recall reading that the Rosenbaums owned movie theaters.

Here is one of Mr Rosenbaum's published works:

https://www.amazon.com/Placing-Movies-J ... 0520086333

S

peterm
Posts: 6188
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

There was footage of the house immediately prior to the restoration. It was in terrible shape due to deferred maintenance, roof leaks which had been ignored and termite infestation throughout. The filmmaker said that she felt physically sick from what must have been mold and trapped moisture. The sons noticed that after the restoration, they missed seeing their things in the rooms, but felt that their childhood memories were heightened by experiencing the spaces more empty.
One son said that because the house was so unusual, it made them constantly aware of their difference, made them feel special and superior to their neighbors. He realized later in his life that this was not particularly healthy. He pointed out that the experience of living in the house was enjoyable, and yet that difference was problematic. The house was so important to his mother that they always felt as though they lived in a museum, and had to frantically tidy up to show it off for guests who came through.

Family tragedy was the main theme. The oldest brother committed suicide as an adult, Mildred Rosenbaum suffered from mental illness, was sent to England and had repeated treatments of electroshock therapy. She rarely left the bedroom, Stanley stayed in the study with his books and the children were taken care of by a series of African American servants.

Not the idyllic story one would hope for.

But is this exaggerated narrative now becoming part of the Wright branding? Trouble in paradise?

SDR
Posts: 18686
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Well, it would be a shame if Wright were to become synonymous with trouble of one kind or another. It's bad enough that his work is thought by some
to be inconsiderate of its owners and occupants, or that his life was fraught with endless tragedy; now we see his clients getting the same treatment ?

We'll just have to double our efforts to present the positive values we associate with this "brand" !

S

peterm
Posts: 6188
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

Correction:

Mildred R. was hospitalized in N.Y., not England, as I wrote earlier.

I suppose joy doesn’t sell tickets to documentary films these days. But as film critic and son Jonathan, who grew up in the house said during the q and a, “This film should not really be called a documentary. It should be called fiction.� The filmmaker, Iranian born, Chicago based Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa, struggled to respond to that. Really the film was her story told through her subjective impressions of the Rosenbaum experience. It had precious little to do with Wright’s architecure, even though the reputation (yes, mostly cliche’s) of Wright was used as a secondary vehicle to tell her story. His name is even included in the title, but not Rosenbaum’s or her own.

SDR
Posts: 18686
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

There's no doubt that Mr Wright's name opens doors for many, worldwide, opportunists and sincere seekers alike. Endless research papers are written each academic year . . .

https://www.academia.edu/people/search? ... oyd+Wright

(Don't bite off more than you can chew ! There may be friendlier sites offering similar materials; caveat emptor.)

S

Roderick Grant
Posts: 9803
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

Peter, when was Mildred hospitalized? I knew her through FLWBC when it was just getting started as The Homeowners' Organization in the 80s. She seemed very stable then, not the least unusual in any way, quite interesting and a good conversationalist.

I also met one of the sons, but cannot recall his name, probably David. Which one killed himself, and when?

peterm
Posts: 6188
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:27 am
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

Mildred was hospitalized for a year in 1953, and according to Jonathan, had multiple shock therapy treatments. I have read some of her letters to the family, and she seemed lucid, though Jonathon said that it affected her memory.

David shot himself in the early 80s. The surviving sons from oldest to youngest are Alvin, Jonathon and Michael.
https://books.google.com/books/about/Pl ... 2_SL-5EpcC

Post Reply