Fact Checking

September 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

In this political season, we’ve all learned that we can’t believe everything we read. I was aware of that concept when I was writing Susan Lawrence: The Enigma in the Wright House, so much of my time was spent checking the research of others for accuracy.I continue to find new information and am constantly trying to separate facts from myths or theories. For example, I discovered in the book I am currently reading, Frank Lloyd Wright and the Art of Japan by Julia Meech, two tidbits to possibly add to my interpretation of the Dana-Thomas House for visitors.

Rose Harmon, Volunteer Coordinator, “stores” a print

In Chapter 1 Meech describes the Wright-designed print tables that are found in the Dana-Thomas House (see “Displaying Art Prints in the Wright Way”). Then she writes, “The table folds up into a slim but stable container for storage of valuable large prints.” I had never heard that before, so I looked closely at the folded table in the gallery. Much to my surprise, there is a nice pocket that could be used to store prints. One more example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius to share with visitors!

In the next chapter Meech makes the case that the Darwin Martin House (designed in the same period as Susan’s Lawrence House) is a microcosm of Wright’s early interest in the Japanese aesthetic. Since many of the examples she cites in the Martin House are also found in the Dana-Thomas House, I can easily understand her arguments. One of the characteristics of Wright’s architecture that she compares to Japanese architecture is the lack of walls. Delineated only by bands of molding and ceiling height changes, the reception area, dining room, and breakfast nook of the Dana-Thomas House flow together with no other dividers. The rooms in Japanese buildings are often only defined by beams of wood (kamoi) attached to columns just above head level. Opaque doors of paper (fusuma) which slide on tracks (shikii) create partitions to separate the rooms. Meech implies that the drapes that hang between rooms in the Martin House (as they do in the Dana-Thomas House) are Wright’s adaptation of the fusuma.

Maybe the current political environment is making me more skeptical, but I am having trouble accepting that theory. The analogy between the heavy drapes we see in the early photos of the Lawrence House and the delicate fusuma eludes me. I’m going to continue to tell our visitors that the drapes were for temperature control until I find convincing facts to the contrary. Unlike some of our current politicos, I like fact checking.

a. kamoi b. fusuma c. shikii

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