While the Wright Walk was my first Wright adventure of the summer, beginning with the Oak Park Home and Studio is most appropriate. For FLW fans, this summer has overflowed with new Wright experiences: the Laurent House in Rockford, the Johnson Research Tower in Racine, and the Inside Wright’s Studio Tour with a visit to the studio balcony. (Sorry, no pictures. I didn’t pop for the indoor photo pass and forgot to take a few outside shots.)
Wright used his home to solidify his architectural beliefs: revising, reshaping, and ultimately abandoning that home and office. During this particular visit, I was again struck by Wright’s ability to design at all eye levels. Regardless of your height or sitting/standing position, your eyes feasted on shapes, colors, and ingenuity. An hour exploring each room would still be insufficient time. Cherie, our guide, pointed out the smaller details that we otherwise might have missed, like the reversed gender roles in the Native American murals in the Wright’s bedroom.
The excitement of the tour was seeing the studio balcony, previously not open to the public. The bird’s eye view of the studio floor was entertaining; the fireplace was the only unobstructed view. (Oh, FLW, I love your commitment to your causes.) The hidden treasure is the ability to see the roof lines of the other wings of the house. His evolution from a pitched roof to a flat roof was visible. Again, even looking out the windows at the roof, the small architectural details and the art glass caught your eye.
The balcony also contained three electronic panels with information about the architects who studied with Wright – a welcome addition to the interpretation. Our group eagerly reviewed the panels and would have loved more biographies. Once again, Alfonso Iannelli was ignored. The circumstances of Wright’s departure from Oak Park were also sidestepped – a common criticism of the Trust’s interpretation. Your eyes are so busy that your brain really isn’t processing audio, which would probably delight FLW.