Saturday, April 26, 2014

Frank Lloyd Wright

On March 6th, Terry and I drove to Lakeland Florida to meet Seattle sketcher Carleen Zimmerman and her husband Neil. They were vacationing in Florida and the plan was to meet for lunch and then go to Florida Southern College to sketch. Lunch was delicious. I had a lasagna roll that was quite unique. Unfortunately it had rained on the entire drive to Lakeland.

I got to flip through Carleen's Florida sketchbook which was almost completely filled.  She had read my book on the flight to Florida and was applying principles I had written about. I was quite pleased to see a note on one sketch that said, "Thor suggests building the pose from the feet up." Most of the sketches were of Florida water foul. Carleen and Neil are avid birders. Because of that they are friends with Terry's sister Rachel in Seattle.

It was still sprinkling when we were done with lunch. Carleen and Neil called it a day and went back to their hotel. Terry and I pushed on to see the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture at Florida Southern College a few miles away. Terry had been on a guided tour there once with her friend Elaine. She didn't like the tour however since the guide just talked for two hours in the gift shop.

The campus is perfect to explore on a rainy day. Florida Southern College (FSC) has the largest concentration of Wright designed structures anywhere in the world with 10 buildings and two additional structures on campus, and is in the National Register of Historic Places.Construction on the campus began in 1938. Students helped with some of the construction. Wright designed an esplanade that cover all the pathways around the campus. What is unique about the overhangs is that they are only supported on one side leaving a completely unobstructed view on the open side.  If a walkway stepped down, so would the overhang. Wright must have been a short man. I began to feel claustrophobic, always feeling I might bump my head. The structures are also showing signs of wear and stress. Large cracks hint that the supports are having trouble bearing the load. Decorative custom brickwork had glass embedded into it, but students can't resist digging out the glass like a gem from it's matrix. Restoration work is needed everywhere.

A group of photographers explored the campus and I caught one in my sketch. An emergency phone looked like it had been bashed by a linebacker. It had one large red "Help" button for easy operation. I was shocked at how few students there were. There are 1800 undergraduate students but only one or two were seen by me on the campus walkways.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

1 comment:

Mary An de Stefano said...

Love the sketch, but as always, great reporting, too.

Yes, FLW was 5'9". I have been meaning to take a photography field trip to the campus. Sorry to hear about the decay. I better hurry up and go!