In my current book, one of my “ladies” is Marion Mahony, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first employee. In fact, Marion was the second woman to graduate from MIT with an architectural degree and the first licensed woman architect in Illinois. An original member of the Prairie School, she was the primary designer at Frank Lloyd Wright’s office for over 14 years. (There is no documentation that Mr. Wright even graduated from high school. Whoops, got off topic there for a second.)
Even though I’ve lived in Chicago for over 13 years, I'd never been to Oak Park, the location of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio. I decided that it was about time to check it out. And, who better to go with than my trusty partner in crime, Sarah, who just happened to live in Oak Park for many years until she moved way out in the suburbs with me.
In previous posts here, I’ve raved about Professor Rebecca Alms, my fabulous Design History teacher at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. While writing this post, I dug out my very old notebook from that class and found five pages of Frank Lloyd Wright notes and copies of slides. But for me, the style never really sunk in. I needed to see the actual houses to really get a feel for the design style. And, that experience hit me like a ton of bricks, especially juxtaposed next to what was the design style that was the norm at the time. I was on a design high.
In preparation for our field trip, I watched the two-disc special edition DVD Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio. So, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the home and studio. But Sarah talked me into taking the tour with her, even though she’d been through it before, and I was so glad she did.
|Looking at a Mahony drawing|
|Sarah and I|
My epiphanies were:
- I finally got the Frank Lloyd Wright design concept. Watching a video or looking at pictures does not put you there.
- In my head, I now have a true image of what makes a Frank Lloyd Wright house.
- I was standing right where one of my ladies worked and created. When I thought about this later, this totally floored me. Of the other 21 women who I’m writing about, I won’t be able to stand right in their footsteps. How cool is that?
Of course, I had to visit the gift and book store. (That’s where the tour ends. Surprised?) I casually wandered over to the children’s section and had to check out the shelf where I hope my book will sit. Yup, right there, between Iggy Peck, Architect (author, my friend, Andrea Beaty) and Chicago Review Press’s Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids (author, Kathleen Thorne-Thomsen). And, I may have said something to the assistant store manager.
After all that walking and coming down off that design high, I needed some munchies. Sarah and I ate some fabulous Argentinian food while chatting about writing and the kids. And, then we got our prerequisite coffee drinks and boarded the train for home. I came home all refreshed and renewed to pound out yet another chapter.
Have a great summer.
My next post will be after I send my son off on his first year of college, my daughter off on her third year of college and a few days before my manuscript is due. Have a feeling it's going to be here before we know it.