Wednesday, October 8, 2008

September Trip Highlights

I've changed this post. It became apparent there were way too many pics and I'd be here for days. So instead of a day-by-day, here are the highlights of our nine-day tour of Frank Lloyd Wright (FLLW) architecture and other Arts and Crafts-related sites.

The "Craft in America" exhibit was taking place at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. What a stunning campus of gardens and magnificent buildings.

This was the last blue sky we'd see for a few days:

In Grand Rapids we saw the Meyer May house, designed by FLLW and latterly bought and restored by Steelcase. They've done an admirable job. This was the only major home we didn't get to see inside during the trip. I hadn't seen one of FLLW's homes "in person" in a while. I am always amazed at how radical they must have been for the time, and was reminded once again of his trademarks: shallow roofs (which had a habit of leaking), cantilevers, art-glass windows, horizontal lines, almost-hidden front doors, and oppressive entrance halls that opened up into welcoming living areas.

As we drove across Michigan into Illinois, and towards Chicago, Hurricane Ike was moving north to meet us.

I've wanted to visit Chicago for years, ever since reading the V. I. Warshawski novels by Sara Paretsky. And here I was! We walked down the Magnificent Mile and came across this 20-foot-or-so-tall statue of King Lear, by J. Seward Johnson. He's located in Pioneer Court, next to the Tribune Tower, and seemed braced to withstand the blustery wind and rain about us. We were lucky. So many in the area and elsewhere got flooded out and battered very badly due to Ike.

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
Crack nature's moulds, an germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!

King Lear, Act III (Shakespeare)

Seeing Chicago first in the rain and mist was quite wonderful. It seemed a gentle introduction to this magnificent city, which has become another item on my list of life experiences which exceeded expectation. I was lucky to meet the charming and glamah-rous Coco and also to be toured around by a dear friend.

Just south of King Lear was this famous cluster of skyscrapers and I was quite dazzled. My camera just doesn't begin to do them justice. The dark green tower with the golden top, second from the left, is the Carbon and Carbide building, now home to the Hard Rock Hotel, and the subject of a future post.

Then, finally, the same scene in the sun, as Ike passed over:

Damn, I loved these skyscrapers!

Sometimes I remembered to look down, too:

Bruce met some friends at the very cool Puppet Bike. He looked more startled than usual at their friendly embraces.

We visited the Robie House (FLLW) and were impressed - again - by the determination of those who save and restore these precious buildings. They fight such an uphill battle...

I love how the different colour mortar creates the horizontal lines in the brick work, not to mention the art-glass windows:

We visited the Charnley-Persky House and had fun determining which bits were designed by Louis Sullivan (the official architect) and which by FLLW (who was Sullivan's chief draughtsman at the time).

A stunner turned out to be the 2nd Presbyterian Church at 1936 S. Michigan Avenue. The church has been untouched for decades, which - on the one hand - means it retains its treasures, but they are now in dire need of repair. Those treasures in include nine stunning stained-glass windows by Tiffany, and two designed by Burne-Jones and executed by Morris and Company. Once on the church's site, pleace click on "Art and History", then "Windows" to see those treasures, and on "Angels Fund" if you feel you can help in some way.

Here's Bruce at a corner of Millenium Park, past which you can see the old Chicago Public Library which is now the Chicago Cultural Center. There we enjoyed an extensive exhibit of Marilyn Monroe as interpreted by artists in photograph and illustration.

In the Cultural Center, under the recently-restored Tiffany dome, we heard a noon-hour chamber recital of Ferenc and Schikele.

The mosaic-inlaid walls and ceilings shimmer slightly. BPG is also a bit of a magpie so I was dazzled and somewhat hypnotized by all of it.

Cloud Gate (more fondly known as The Bean):

The beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, among many other lovely homes:

We then headed out of the city into Wisconsin. Dawn in Spring Green, from our hotel room balcony:

FLLW's home, studio and school at Taliesin:

Hillcrest School, which is part of the Taliesin complex:

Macro time:

Bruce hanging out at the Taliesin visitor centre, formerly a FLLW-designed restaurant. Part of it still is so we ate and also... shopped. Yikes... so many souvenirs!

We visited the S.C. Johnson Wax Building (FLLW-designed) but no photography allowed. We also visited Johnson's FLLW-designed home, Wingspread, my favourite house of the lot.

Some wacko tree-hugger at Wingspread:

Bruce enjoyed hanging out from the grape vines.

A Usonian house in Milwaukee. FLLW-designed for the everyman. :)

Macro shot in Wisconsin:

The view from our hotel room in Racine. This was a good way to wind down the vacation.

And of course, we remembered International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day AND scored some drink and watches at Duty Free. Arr...


Protege said...

I love the new look of your blog! Those pictures of the autumn foliage are incredible. The best part of fall, by far, is the colors.
Your travel companion is very cute.;)

Betsy said...

You were in Michigan? That is practically in Ohio! ;) Looks like Bruce really enjoyed it, too!
And you've been redecorating over here! Lovely!

glamah16 said...

Lovin the new look . And looking forward to the rest of your journey.

Dave Coulter said...

Very nice pictures....I like the new look too! :)

willow said...

Chicago is one of my favorite cities! And it looks like you visited most of my favorite spots!!! Extra nice pix, Ace Girl Photographer!!!

Lavinia said...

Chicago looks like a great place. I think Bruce has more mileage on his little valise than I do. Love him upside down!

Bill Stankus said...

Wow, love the FLW houses and Chicago is one fine city ... I once did some photo work in Frank's old house - I'll see if I can find it.

BTW - have you read "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan? Nice book.

Hilary said...

What a fabulous collection of photos. Looks like you had a great time. I love the new header too.

Blog Princess G said...

Protege: Thanks... we decided it was time for some seasonal foliage. :) Bruce is a very good travelling companion and excellent at making friends. ;)

Betsy: Practically! We might have popped in for some tea. Sigh... :)

Coco: I've revised the post, it's *all* on here now. :)

Dave: Thanks! I love this time of year and the colours are sublime.

Willow: Ohhh, we shall have to swap notes some time. Especially as I must return one day. What a city.

Lavinia: Thank you! And regarding Bruce, he's a young bat, he's *only* just begun. :)

Bill: I'd love to see that. We weren't allowed to photograph in any of the FLLW houses. That's what postcards in gift shops are for, I guess. I haven't read Loving Frank, but I bought it. :) We also saw the Ken Burns documentary before *and* after (the after-trip showing was to offset post-holiday blues.)

Hilary: As you are such an ace girl photographer, I take that compliment to heart. Thanks!

phil said...

Thanks for another great journey!

I'll always remember a boat ride through the Dells in Wisconsin from 40 years ago.

Blog Princess G said...

That sounds wonderful Phil. I am googling the Dells. :)

joelmead said...

Some great photos of Chicago. I've never been there myself. I particularly love the King Lear statue photos. I'm a sucker for statuary…

Stevyn Colgan said...

Great Post G - love the bean. Bruce seemed to enjoy it too. Dave Horvath would be so proud of you. x

Blicky Kitty said...

I love your pictures of chicago. I'm dying to get out there and see that anish kapoor. I reviewed his Boston exhibit.

Blog Princess G said...

Joel: I know what you mean. I highly recommend Chicago, it's a wonderful city.

Stevyn: I'm googling Dave Horvath! Bruce is a great guy to travel with. :)

Blicky: Have fun! I did...