“Beautiful buildings are more than scientific… they are true organisms, spiritually conceived; works of art using the best technology.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
New places and fresh faces are personal balms. Since childhood, I’ve been afflicted with wanderlust, drawn to the unknown, eager to become familiar with strangers. As time goes by, lethargy with its drain on creative energy is a troublesome demon requiring an antidote other than bogus miracle powders or terrifying medications.
Cultural travel is a spiritual elixir, a tonic for the restless soul. Nothing elaborate, usually just those opportunities that come my way by virtue of writing and broadcasting. Everything is practical and doable.
Early on, I became fascinated with famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. A man noted for his profound achievements in architecture, his biography and books about him (including Ayn Rand’s thinly disguised “The Fountainhead” and the movie of the same name), inspired a first-hand look. The quintessential American individualist, Wright was burdened with unspeakable tragedy, self-inflicted financial difficulties, and rather set in his ways, that he was flawed and controversial made him even more interesting.
I took to the road to see some of his creations
Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma rises 221 feet above the prairie. Confirming to my satisfaction (with no supporting evidence) that Wright was a devotee of the philosophy and discipline found in Tao Te Ching, this amazing 12-story structure is described by the owners as “express[ing] the organic ideal of the tree.” A taproot foundation solidly anchors the building. The interior has rooms for visitors complete with Wright’s tile, tapestries and furniture. The room window allows a spectacular panoramic view of the countryside and lighting is dependent on sunlight more than electricity.
I am also convinced that the architect either cared little for right angles or wanted to tease future generations with corners that could not always be anticipated by mortals. You searched for an elusive closet door, were surprised by an elevator opening up on your left side but were left breathless viewing the tower glowing in moonlight.
Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida is the home of the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. For its 2011 and 2012 rankings, The Princeton Review selected Florida Southern’s campus as the most beautiful in the country. Named “Child of the Sun” the buildings are testaments to the relationship between humans and the universe. Wright likely never made any money from the project primarily due to the Great Depression and World War II, but he made it work.
Under his supervision, college students made building blocks from native sand. Buildings were erected where they combined with the natural lay of the land and aesthetically reflected the colors of semi-tropical Florida. The floors were painted in Wright’s favorite color, Cherokee red.
Child of the Sun will never garner the acclaim of Wright’s all-time masterpiece, the
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, but for my purposes a journey to Lakeland served the purpose of several interests including fishing the wonderful lakes of central Florida and touring much of what is called “Original Florida.
No stranger to tragedy, Wright doggedly and with a fair share of controversy overcame the murder of his first wife, bad publicity from affairs including an arrest for violation of the ridiculous Mann Act designed to keep a man and a woman from crossing state lines for “immoral purposes.”
A few days at Price Tower and Florida Southern sparked some suppressed energy, releasing any notions that as I aged, life would become gradually more dormant. Quite the contrary, I expanded my interests professionally and personally and have a yearning to paint my floors and driveway in Cherokee red.