Saturday, April 18, 2009

Moon Gate

When sitting in the Garden Room shown in yesterday's photo, you look out to Moon Gate and a wonderfully intimate garden. This area was part of Frank Lloyd Wright's private living quarters at Taliesin West.

In selecting this 600 acre desert campsite, Wright's wife, Olgivanna, wrote in her unpublished autobiography that "In 1937, we heard of land to the northeast --beyond the barely existent town of Scottsdale.  Frank and I drove out there to explore the site.  It was very wild, there were no trails, our feet full of cactus, and we were always stopping every few minutes. 

The desert at first appeared to me too bare, too abstract, after coming from Wisconsin.  But then it had a magnetic power that overcomes you, and it overcame Frank.  He said 'we have got to build here, this is pure abstraction wherever you look.'   

At the base of the majestic McDowell Mountains, this site commanded a view of the entire Valley of the Sun --from Four Peaks and the Superstition Mountains in the east to the mountains in the west.  Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Paradise Valley all lay before us, although so remote and little developed at the time that we could see no buildings. Prominent in our view was the distinctive form of Camelback Mountain.

And so we went back to Phoenix and made arrangements to purchase the land.  As soon as the fellowship arrived from Wisconsin, we took our group of some twenty-five apprentices and headed for the site to build our life there.  The first task was to build a road up to the site from the valley below. And when the road was barely laid out, scarcely even discernable, Frank said 'Olgivanna, let's get in the car and drive up to the site, we will be the first to drive on our own road.'

Our young people shook their heads. No one in what is called a 'sane' mind would try to drive over that road which precariously skirted deep washes and was filled with large rocks. But now --used to everything, I was at the wheel. When I approached one especially hazardous washout, I asked, 'Do you think we should do this before more work is finished on the road?' 'Drive on,' he said, irritated by my lack of faith. I drove with my heart leaning all the way to the left when I thought the car would turn over on that side and then my heart jumped all the way to the right as we barely missed another dangerous incline.  

But we came to the site: we were the first.  He, victorious; I, exhausted from my doubts. 'We must strengthen the spiritual muscle, ' he reiterated. "    

Mr. Wright passed away in 1959, and Mrs. Wright lived on the property until she passed away in 1985.  

10 comments:

Lois said...

Lovely!

Sharon said...

Another interesting view! When I toured here it was in the evening and we stood outside with the view of the city as it lit up before us. Just grand.

Jilly said...

Absolutely fascinating. He was an amazing architect - just think of Falling Water and the Guggenheim. Fascinating reading and photography.

B Squared said...

Never heard the story before. Thanks for sharing.

Boise Diva said...

It's a great story!

Virginia said...

Oh I love this interesting story and the photo. Thank you for sharing it with us.
V

mo'ikeha said...

Looks even a bit like an ear...love also the path leading out of the wall, giving way to tell into other ears about the beauty of this place.

brattcat said...

Such a beautiful shot and such an interesting post.

PJ said...

I forgot that Lloyd Wright lived there, how interesting to see his work close up. This is so much more accessible than a magazine piece. You're a great tour guide, Julie.

Bath Daily Photo Blog said...

these are all really interesting photos, I love the moon gate, love anything to do with landscape design of course!

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