Midway Gardens

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Tom
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Location: Black Mountain, NC

Midway Gardens

Post by Tom »

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Could not find a dedicated thread on Midway.
Avery File:
https://library.artstor.org/#/search/ar ... e=1;sort=1

The recent talk over Wright's sculptures led me to look further into things. So I went to chapter 6 in Alofsin's The Lost Years. The chapter is titled: "A Lesson in Figural Sculpture: Conventionalizing the Flesh". Midway had an entire and elaborate sculptural program. The figures cannot be dismissed as incidental to the building. According to Alofsin Wright was integrating the figures into the work with some degree of theoretical underpinning that has to do with a desire to integrate the human figure into geometry: "conventionalizing the flesh" (Wright's own words). Why he wanted to do that is one of my questions? There are at least 17 drawings in the Avery File of the sculptures.

But first some preliminaries. Two stories that Alofsin tells in the chapter are interesting and one I have a question about. First, another amazing fast drawing story. According to son John, Wright appears in the office sits down at the desk and in one hour draws plans, sections, and elevations of the entire complex.

Second, and this is corroborated in son John's book on his father - evidently there was an "architect's box", as John calls it. Alofsin:

".... At Midway Gardens, Wright privately acknowledged this exalted role of the architect by providing an outside viewing box. Perhaps it was just another place to sit for visitors, but for Wright it was the place from which the architect - master of form and poet-priest of a new society- could view the events transpiring in the summer garden. "

Anybody know where the "architect's box" was located?

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Last edited by Tom on Sun Sep 12, 2021 2:53 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Roderick Grant
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Re: Midway Gardens

Post by Roderick Grant »

Paul Kruty's book on the building may offer a clue.

Tom
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Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:53 pm
Location: Black Mountain, NC

Re: Midway Gardens

Post by Tom »

Looked up Kruty's book and it's not in the budget for now. Out of print, it seems, and selling for $160.
So looked for a way to contact him online but I guess he no longer teaches at Urbana Champaign - he was not listed in the faculty.
Anybody have contact info on him?

loo tee
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Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:35 pm

Re: Midway Gardens

Post by loo tee »

Prof. Paul Kruty has retired from the University of Illinois. So far as I know, he still uses his academic email address:

<pkruty@illinois.edu> I'm sure he would be happy to answer questions about the Midway Gardens.

Tom
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Location: Black Mountain, NC

Re: Midway Gardens

Post by Tom »

THANK YOU !!

Tom
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Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:53 pm
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Re: Midway Gardens

Post by Tom »

Professor Paul replies:

Thanks for your note. The "Architect's Box" was located on the right side of the interior garden facing the bandshell, on the second level of the covered walkway. It was just to the left of the tall pylon. Wright seemed to suggest this one area, although there is an identical mirror image of it on the left side facing the bandshell. I have attached three photos to show you: one of the whole garden, where it is on the far right, center; a second where you see it diagonally from the balcony of the private club, again on the far right side; and the third looking up at it from the stage. It is the projection below/next to the pylon, defined by the concrete tiles with the diagonal pattern.


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Architect's Box:
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Tom
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Re: Midway Gardens

Post by Tom »


SDR
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Re: Midway Gardens

Post by SDR »

Wow. Thank you, Professor Kruty ! Your images, along with one linked just above by Tom, bring the piece into focus. The architect apparently feels deserving of a personal spire, an aspirational symbol and/or totem ?

Now for the plan of this space (or mirrored pair of spaces ?) . . .

S


SDR
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Re: Midway Gardens

Post by SDR »

Well, there are 217 Midway drawings in this file:

https://library.artstor.org/#/search/Wr ... e=2;sort=0

. . .so I don't know how long it might be before someone locates a plan of the architect's box. Happy hunting . . .?

S

Tom
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Re: Midway Gardens

Post by Tom »

Here is the paragraph from chapter six of The Lost Years where Alofsin mentions the Architect's Box. It raises a ton of issues:

"Not only can the figure of the Winged Sprite be seen as the representation of architecture but also as the symbol of the architect, the bringer of geometry. And Midway, as Wright described it, became a place of the architect's mastery: "Here in Midway Gardens painting and sculpture were to be bidden again to their original offices in architecture, where they belonged. The architect, himself, was here again master of them altogether, making no secret of it whatsoever" This symbolic purpose. recalled the role of the American architect as creator and poet for his country. At Midway Gardens, Wright privately acknowledged this exalted role of the architect by providing a special outside viewing box. Perhaps it was just another place to sit for visitors, but for Wright it was the place from which the architect - the master of form and poet-priest of a new society - could view the events transpiring in the summer garden."

Tom
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Re: Midway Gardens

Post by Tom »

I guess I should also include the footnote to this paragraph where Alofsin includes an excerpt from John Wright. Something about all of this (and the above) seems embarrassing to me but it is nevertheless a part of the record:

"Commenting on a visit to the Gardens with his father, John Lloyd Wright wrote: Later Dad and I sat alone in the Architect's Box, a finial at the corner - a needle of light ran up the sky. This romantic building, like the expression he bore, was the mask of a great inner love" (JLW, My Father, 72-73)

Tom
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Re: Midway Gardens

Post by Tom »

SDR wrote:
Thu Sep 16, 2021 11:09 pm
The architect apparently feels deserving of a personal spire, an aspirational symbol and/or totem ?

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

Re: Midway Gardens

Post by Roderick Grant »

The loss of this masterpiece, which is as close to perfection end to end, as anything FLW designed, is more tragic than the loss of either Larkin or Imperial.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Re: Midway Gardens

Post by SDR »

Night photo reproduced in Taschen I. Architect's box centered in last image ?

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There's a picture here https://hubski.com/pub/446162 of the stacked cube lights also visible in the above photo, among the throng below . . .

S

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