Graycliff has recently acquired a Frank Lloyd Wright designed bench with a provenance that connects this important piece of original furniture to the historic site in New York state.
Graycliff was designed in 1926 by Wright for Isabelle & Darwin Martin as their summer house on Lake Erie. Their city house was on Jewett Parkway in Buffalo. Wright designed few furniture pieces for the Graycliff estate, which comprises three architectural structures: a seven-bedroom main house, a garage with second floor apartment, and a small ancillary structure to house the boiler system as a fire preventative measure. While Wright designed several tables, plant stands, radiator covers, and this bench for the property, the interiors were largely furnished with store-bought wicker and upholstered furniture purchased by the Martins with Wright’s approval.
The bench, donated to the Graycliff Conservancy by a small group of local donors, is especially rare given that Wright’s commissions were few in the 1920s, and therefore so were the pieces he designed for Graycliff. A unique example of Wright-designed furniture from the late 1920s, the cypress bench is 30 inches high, 72 inches wide, and 20 inches deep and was thought to have been placed in the entry foyer of the Martin’s house.
Graycliff Conservancy strives to present the interior of the main house at Graycliff in the manner of the Martin family in the 1930s and through historic photographs in the collection of University at Buffalo Archives an accurate interpretation of the spaces is slowly being achieved. Though no photographic evidence exists of this bench at Graycliff, Wright’s blueprint plans for it is in the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives in the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University, New York.
The bench appeared in the December 13, 2022, auction at Toomey & Co. Auctioneers, Chicago, IL and purchased for Graycliff with the generous support of Cynthia and David Silverstein; Phyllis Spears; Joseph Blatz; and Patrick and Kristin Mahoney. Cynthia Silverstein and Phyllis Spears are current Directors on the Graycliff Conservancy Board and Patrick Mahoney and Joseph Blatz are each former Directors.
Now an important piece within the Graycliff Conservancy’s existing collection of original and interpretive objects and archival materials, the bench will allow visitors to the site a better understanding of Frank Lloyd Wright’s and the Martin family’s influence on early twentieth century architecture and design. Beginning Sunday, April 2, visitors to Graycliff will be able to see this original Wright-designed furniture piece as part of their standard or extended guided tour experience.
The Times of Noblesville reports that in anticipation of reopening the newly restored Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in West Lafayette, Indiana known as SAMARA, Landmarks is hosting a talk about the great American architect and the challenges of preserving his creations.
As America emerged from the Great Depression in the 1930s, architect Frank Lloyd Wright saw an emerging need for well-designed, affordable housing for the middle class. From then until his passing in 1959, Wright designed a uniquely American brand of architecture that he coined as “Usonian,” a shorthand way to say “United States of North America.”
On March 29, Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Executive Director Barbara Gordon will headline the talk and provide an in-depth look into the philosophy and restoration challenges surrounding Wright’s Usonian architecture. Gordon has been in her position since 2017 and prior to that spent 21 years at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
The John and Catherine Christian House (aka Samara) completed in 1956 in West Lafayette represents one of Wright’s most fully realized Usonian designs. Suzanne Stanis, Vice President of Education at Indiana Landmarks, will discuss Samara, the National Historic Landmark that’s undergone a $2 million restoration.
Named for winged seeds produced by the site’s evergreens, Samara features an abstract version of the winged seed design motif in the interior and exterior of the house. Because the Christians consistently adhered to Wright’s prescribed concepts and were the home’s sole owners, Samara offers a rare comprehensive example of the famous architect’s work, which advised on the selection of china and textiles and created specific furniture pieces.
Today, Indiana Landmarks co-stewards Samara with the John E. Christian Family Memorial Trust. Samara will reopen in April with tours offered on a regular basis for the first time, rather than by appointment. Tour tickets go on sale March 20 at www.samara-house.org).
The talk is $10 for the public and free for Indiana Landmarks members. All tickets are general admission. Reserve your spot at wrightusoniantalk23.eventbrite.com, or by calling 317-639-4534.
WHAT: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Vision talk
WHEN: March 29 at 6 p.m.
WHERE: Indiana Landmarks Center, Grand Hall, 1201 Central Ave., Indianapolis, and online via Zoom
COST: $10; free for Indiana Landmarks members
RSVP: Purchase tickets by visiting this LINK, or by calling 317-639-4534.
You're cordially invited to attend the closing event for John Lautner’s Pearlman Cabin & Walstrom Residence exhibition at Architekton in Tempe, Arizona — a collaboration between The Organic Architecture + Design Archives, The School of Architecture (TSOA), and the John Lautner Foundation.
Please join the festivities at Architekton from 5-7PM for a reception and speaking event. This exhibition, featuring two unique residential works by Lautner, a renowned American architect and early apprentice of the Taliesin Fellowship, first opened to the public at TSOA’s Arcosanti campus in the Fall of 2022, and has been re-located and re-organized by TSOA students at the offices of Architekton in Tempe, Arizona.
The closing event on March 31, 2023, will reflect on the two projects, the two exhibitions, the creative process, and future potentials of future exhibitions as the collection of materials continue to travel and grow.
Closing event speakers will include:
• Christopher Carr, Architect, John Lautner Foundation, OA+D Archives
• A. Louis Wiehle, Architect, Wiehle-Carr Architects
• Stephanie Lin, Dean, The School of Architecture
• Christopher Dela Pole & Romina Frohar, Students, The School of Architecture
• Eddie Jones, Architect, Jones Studio
• John Kane, Architect, Architekton
• Alan Hess, Educator, Historian and Author
Please RSVP HERE or for more information on the exhibition click HERE.
If you cannot attend but would like to support exciting and meaningful educational outreach and public engagements like this, the please consider a tax-deductible donation to help support these exhibition efforts HERE. Be sure to add "EXHIBITION" to the notes to let them know of your support!
A new exhibit opened in early March at Millikin University in Decatur, IL titled "Abstract Geometries: Organic Architecture + Design Archives Collection." Carefully curated examples of “abstract geometries” from the Organic Architecture + Design Archives comprises a unique exhibition guaranteed to dazzle. Objects and art on display include works by Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Bruce Goff, Alvin Lustig, the Taliesin Fellowship, and more. Susan Jacobs Lockhart, artist and former member of the Taliesin Associated Architects, stated: “Abstract geometries are a universal language; their resonance tells a story of color and form, touching each viewer in an individual way to excite, uplift or challenge.” Come see and experience for yourself!
The exhibit runs through April 14, 2023 in the Perkinson Art Gallery, which is open to the public Monday through Friday 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm and is located in the Kirkland Fine Arts Center on the campus of Millikin University. Plan your visit here.