"and I guess it struck a nerve/
sent a murmur through my heart
Bad Religion, "Struck a Nerve"

F.LL.W.'s Sturgess House - J. Shulman, Photographer.

Have you ever had one of those experiences that really made you believe that you were born too late?

You know, not a few days or weeks late like a normal birth, but a number of years late, like 40 - 50 years.

As devoted Jetsetters Travel Writers, always on the go, we had not one, but three experiences in which we had déjà vu trippy experiences that really make us think we were born 40 - 50 years too late. For both of us having grown up in the good old, corn-fed Midwest in Chicago, we're huge fans of architecture created by the rightly self proclaimed "Greatest Architect in American History."

Who is this, you ask and why? Read on, my friends and we'll explain in our three-part karma journey for our latest Jetsetters Magazine feature article.

First, we went to the always cutting edge Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art to view an excellent 90-minute theater production presented by The Theatre of Will Foundation. It was a one-person play about the then 68-year-old Frank Lloyd Wright that occurred during a three-hour timeframe in 1935. The setting for this play was in the drafting room at Spring Green, Wisconsin at Taliesin, the initial hilltop architectural home for Mr. Wright's fellowship of architectural and landscape architect apprentices. This brilliant two-act play examines Wright's life, from personal adversities and professional set backs to design innovations and architectural achievements to his outrageous comments about American popular culture.

John Crowther portrays Frank Lloyd Wright at the MOCA.

In the intimate Ahmanson Auditorium at MOCA, having approximately 160 seats, mostly filled with an eclectic, artsy crowd of thirty-somethings, we were privileged to experience this special engagement of this amazing theatrical production starring John Crowther. Not only did he write and perform the entire play, but he even looks like a spitting image of Frank Lloyd Wright while he is decked out in his beret, gold ascot, and gray suit.

Having personally seen interviews with F.LL.W, John is a very gifted and talented actor who convinced us that we were back in time witnessing the real Frank Lloyd Wright. His body movements, mannerisms, and speech pattern were uncannily on the mark. John cleverly portrayed F.LL.W.'s bombastic personality as this architectural visionary reminisced to his students for three hours while he speedily hand-drafted, or as he said, "shook the design out of his sleeve," for one of his masterpieces - Fallingwater in Bear Run, Pennsylvania.

This imaginative and very charismatic character felt that "Truth should come before beauty," yet he self-absorbedly believed that his clients only thought they knew what they wanted in a home. Having been delayed for over one year, this frustrated department store owner and client, Edgar J. Kaufmann, was in the car and racing towards Spring Green to view his set of plans. Little did he know, they were going to be well worth the wait and would later be hailed as one of the complete masterpieces of 20th century art that was Frank Lloyd Wright's most sublime integration of man and nature.

F.LL.W.'s Freeman House - J. Shulman, photographer.

Having recently read Frank Lloyd Wright's 620 page, "An Autobiography", I was struck by how many details of this book were mentioned in this 90 minute play. Had I known, I would have saved the torture of constantly putting the book down in frustration due to Frank's over-the-top personality and egotistical ramblings. Don't get me wrong; I love Frank Lloyd Wright and deeply admire his horizontal lines echoed in his Prairie style of architecture. I was merely overwhelmed by his attitude of "honest arrogance" that accompanied his pure genius; yet, I finished reading the book and soaked it up like a sponge. Now, having seen the play, I concur with the rave reviews that the critics have lavished John Crowther with for bringing this hardworking, opinionated artist's life to the stage. After the production, I was told by Janis Hashe from Betty PR that it is being considered as an upcoming theatrical production at The Guggenheim Museum in New York City. You'll definitely want to put this on the top of your must see list for New York theater!

Immediately following the production, the Director, Willard Simms, treated the audience with a special guest, Mr. Julius Shulman, who did a brief poetic reading by Walt Whitman and then reminisced about his twelve days photographing with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1950.

Julius Shulman, 92, is the modern architecture photography god who started working with Richard Neutra in 1936, and has created breath-taking memorable photographs of architectural masterpieces by others such as RM Schindler, Charles & Ray Eames, Frank Lloyd Wright, Albert Frey, and Pierre Koenig, to name a few. Frank Lloyd Wright once said: "That to his mind no better photos had been taken of Taliesin West than those of Julius Shulman." When you see early black and white photographs that Julius Shulman took, these are often the best-known pictures of the residences designed by these pioneer architects during the mid-1930's and later. Hearing these stories, my wife and I again agreed that we were both born too late to have experienced some of these architects with their colorful personalities, and their works of art as they were being designed, built and newly presented to the world.

Fallingwater is one of Wright's most famous designs.

Our third experience of wanting to be somewhere in time also occurred on this jet setting adventure as special guests were invited to a private reception at the 4th Street Gallery at 118 East 4th Street, Los Angeles. This was a reception/benefit for the Theatre of Will and was hosted by gallery owner/photographer Tom Zimmerman. On exhibit on crisp white walls were black and white photos of Los Angeles art deco architecture grandeur from the glorious 1920s and 1930s to support the preservation of the arts and history of Los Angeles. This benefit was for the Theatre of Will, a non-profit arts education and theatrical production company whose performances draw audience members into a heightened state of awareness about the social, political, and cultural forces which have shaped the world they currently inhabit. One of their goals is to ensure that every school child in Los Angeles attends at least one live theatrical production a year.

Visit Webbandstand.comWhat a great cause, I thought as we gnoshed on such tasty treats as jumbo Mexican white prawns poached in sherry and herbs; home made Greek Spanakopita; and puffed pastry filled with ground beef, veal, spices and herbs. We also enjoyed a few glasses of Cabernet while revisiting the 1920s through their live entertainment and photos of many buildings sadly destroyed in the name of progress. Seeing the crisp white gallery walls, Kim flashed back to her college days as an art minor and told me of many late nights patching and painting white gallery walls in preparation for the big exhibit opening day. Meanwhile, local actors and actresses from this talented artistic and theatrical community performed 1920s era songs and skits from an upcoming F. Scott Fitzgerald play; crooned Eddie Cantor numbers; belted out famous Judy Garland songs; and entertained the gallery attendees with a flapper number by queen Zelda Fitzgerald.

While cruising back home in our retro-MINI Cooper after a great outing, we were talking and connecting the dots on the amazing experiences that we've had today. Since history repeats itself, we realized that we're glad to be around now as the streamlined designs and understanding of nature and it's beauty from the past generations are again striking a nerve and are tapping into a whole new generation of art and architecture enthusiasts.

By Donald & Kimberly Tatera, Southern California Jetsetters Magazine Correspondents.

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Lost Wright: Frank Lloyd Wright's Vanished Masterpieces

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