I wasn’t in school today. I had a VIP in town and I wanted to take him to my favorite place, Taliesin West, the desert studio of Frank Lloyd Wright. Taliesin means “Shining Brow” in Welsh, he named the house so because he situated the home in the brow of the hills. FLW attached to the idea of the “brow” as the only place to build on a hillside. Not at the top, not at the bottom, but set high in the brow, snug below the crown and let the valley fall below. When you stand at the prow of Taliesin and watch the desert unfold below and away from you on all sides, you can feel his genius.
Sgt. O’Brien is home from his second tour of duty in the Middle East and this is where he picked to visit. As we walked in front of the property with the mountain behind us and the city below us, we came to a point in the yard shaped at right angle. She said that Wright stood there and proclaimed the desert looked like the bottom of the ocean to him. In the bright sunlight, with the brown and green and utterly dry plants sprawled in acres before us, I saw it. It lookedd like an ocean floor. If you stand on the corner and turn and look at the house behind you, you can imagine you are on a ship sailing across the ocean of the desert. Epic.
Mr. Wright’s mother was Welsh and she raised him with stories that someday he would grow up to be an architect. I love that.
This is one of the best house tours I’ve been on because so much of FLW is invested in this property. I’ve toured Falling Water and his home in Oak Park, Taliesin West is the most interesting to me. If you have an opportunity to visit I recommend it. After our tour we had lunch at Pita Jungle in Scottsdale, which is close by and has healthy, reasonably priced food. A great day all around.
The tour ends in the Taliesin theater. On the way to my seat I saw a small display of Froebel blocks that his mother bought him when he was a boy. I snapped a pic, this is an easy way to make a subject like FLW relevant for my students. I can talk about Lincoln Logs or Froebel blocks. I am a big believer in the power of childhood play and the importance of open-ended toys and large blocks of non-directed time to create. According to my superficial research on home page of Wisconsin Historical Society, he was originally named Frank Lincoln Wright, but his mother changed his middle name to Lloyd after her divorce. His adult son John Lloyd Wright was the inventor of the enormously popular Lincoln log toy set. I love the double trivia behind the idea that Lincoln Logs were named for Abraham Lincoln and Frank Lloyd Wright.