Jan 15, 2018

Taliesin West, Heard Museum and Phoenix Art Museum

I have to admit I have never been a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. I guess it is too organic and modern; however I do like how Taliesin West blends in with the environment.  Personally, I prefer more traditional, classic architecture but our guide at Taliesin West, Lola, did a better
job of explaining the concept of Wright’s architecture than any of the guides we had at other Wright’s houses we have toured.  We
have visited the Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, Graycliff south of Buffalo (with a beautiful location on the lake), and Falling Water in Pennsylvania.  I love waterfalls and couldn’t understand why one would want their house built over the waterfalls.  I would enjoy looking at the falls.  Also, the rooms w
ere small, with low ceilings and, if there were closets they were well hidden.  Wright was living at his home, Taliesin East, in Wisconsin and it seems he had some health issues so the doctor suggested he move to Arizona. He did and created Taliesin West.  Taliesin means the “brow” of the mountain and the Arizona house has a great view. “Taliesin West is a look over the rim of the world,” wrote Wright.  

Taliesin West is more than Wright’s home is it also a museum and a
school of architecture.  According to Wright, who wasn’t very tall, anything over six feet was unnecessary so all the ceilings are low.  The highlight of the visit was when our group visited the living room with a piano. An attractive young lady in our group sat at the piano and played a Mozart composition – awesome.  When Wright visited the Chicago World’s Fair he became enamored with Asia art so there are many Asian art objects throughout the house. The house had an amazing auditorium with outstanding acoustics.  

Our next stop was the Phoenix Art Museum. The entrance was interesting. The walls and ceilings were covered with what looked like bats but were in reality an art work called “Black Cloud,” a “plaque of 25,000 black paper moths and butterflies” meant to represent the annual migration of the monarch butterfly. I can always identify a Calder mobile but this is
the first time I have seen his paintings. The burst of color in his artwork resembled his mobiles. There was a fascinating art display of “paintings” that had moving characters obviously based on video games. The “Border Crossing” exhibit had a painting that showed the changes when cultures meet – a lot to look at. The creative mind knows no limits.  The “Past/Future/Present” exhibit included an artwork made out of nylon stockings. 

Entering the “Native People of the Southwest” At the Heard museum there is a 30-foot glass and clay art fence that needed close examination as there were many hidden images in the sculptures. I am intrigued by Kachina dolls. I thought Barry Goldwater’s collection was the largest but that is not true… the Heard Museum not only has his collection but many more. A Kachina doll is a
representation of a Pueblo ancestral spirit. Probably the only way I will ever see the Havasupai and their place in the Grand Canyon with the beautiful Havasu Falls is in the Heard’s Museum. I would like to visit but the 8-mile hike down to the village is more than I can handle.  I would have to take a helicopter for $85 per person one way and then it is still a hike of a mile or more to the falls and accommodations.