posted in: Architecture, Blog, Site Visit, Superstruct | 1

This past April (while on a road trip from NJ to KC), I had the opportunity to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s domestic commission, Fallingwater, nestled in the woods of Pennsylvania just outside Pittsburg.

Fallingwater: Initial Approach

What is immediately clear upon approach is that Lloyd knows his architectural history. It would appear that Wright synthesized certain principles of design from across a spectrum of cultures and histories. These principles of balance and grace were clarified, and then combined to achieve a new harmony. Clean lines, flawless integration with its natural surroundings, and modular domestic amenities inside and out are reminiscent of Japanese architecture.  Every square inch of space, overlap and point of contact is considered.

One of the most glaring differences between experiencing this home and contemporary homes are that the proportions of everything- thresholds, to rooms and windows, planters and the pool- each one is so contentious.

Frankly, I was shocked to see Wright use an ochre color of paint applied to concrete shaped into soft round, repeating curves. When I think of Wright’s style, angular bricks in squat midwest prairie iterations spring to mind. In my humble opinion, Falling Water also references Adobe abodes, so characteristic to the American Southwest.

Pueblos de Taos, New Mexico

The ochre body with red window trim made the home both pop and recede into the foliage depending on the strength of the sun through the clouds that day. I overheard a passing guide mention the color was derived from the underside of a fallen, dead leaf.

Falling Water's cantaliever

Paint Colors: Wright’s desire to create a unified and organic composition limited the color palette at Fallingwater. Only two colors were used throughout:  a light ochre for the concrete and his signature Cherokee red for the steel (PPG Pittsburgh Paints). –Fallingwater Facts

Even though this home was built in 1936, its vision and clarity resonates today. I wonder what kind of lives were enriched by existing amidst nature mingling with these walls. Fallingwater is a fantastic specimen of “superstruct,” the original foundation here literally being nature and conceptually being a myriad of architectural histories/principles that are built upon. It is a structure quietly ahead of its time.


Fallingwater is anchored seamlessly into natural rock. (extra points if you spot my mother)
We even admired the patio furniture; the raised center design takes into account the position of lounging legs and feet.


Peter Volkous sculpture signed '58 spotted by the spring-fed pool

Red Time

Image Courtesy of Roberts & Tilton

Betye Saar

Red Time

Roberts & Tilton

September 10 – December 17, 2011


Seminal L.A. artist Betye Saar’s site-specific installation at Roberts & Tilton is a blend of objects that are found, created, borrowed and recycled. The installation, which includes works from 1965 to 2011, reflects Saar’s past, present, and future and is divided into three categories: “In the Beginning,” “Migration and Transformation” and “Beyond Memory”.  The entirety of the room is painted a shocking red with objects taking over the walls at every glance. Initially some of the domesticated objects seem familiar (a wooden ladder, an antique clock, among others), but upon closer inspection the objects become distortions of what we know them to be.  Miniature rifles replace a clock’s hands, and chains and slave ships occupy the rungs of a ladder hanging sideways. The shifting array of works sharing this space takes us on a psychological journey that is at times both ominous and hopeful, leaving the viewer in a conflicted state.  The use of red seeks to unify these disparate gestures, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for the unfolding narrative of the exhibition.  Unlike Matisse’s The Red Room, which Saar cites as an influence, Red Time not only makes use of this color to express themes of love, but also violence and power.  The result is a story of pain and survival and most importantly of continued perseverance.

– Natalie Popovic Schuh

Entry #3 of the Guest Blog Curator Top Ten List


“Hardly nothing to do without”

Carey Lin paints scenarios composed of everyday studio detritus, found Internet clippings, and vagrant residues from attended artist residencies- to name a few. Lin’s work evokes questions as to the nature of what a painting can be and what, however humble, can invoke the necessity to paint. The paintings are quiet and yet insistent poetic statements. One can get caught up in painterly materiality where crusty dryness and viscosity exists on its own merits next to highly illusionistic spatial passages. Lin’s work reminds us that facture, the way in which a paining is made, can lead an audience to incredible depths of new meaning and connectivity to a larger tradition of painting or remain locked in its own reflexivity, refusing to cede any secrets as to its own discrete physical territory.

Lins current exhibition, “Hardly nothing to do without” opens this week, October 29, and runs through December 4, 2011, at Royal NoneSuch Gallery in Oakland, CA.

Studio sweep, 2010, Oil on canvas, 18" x 18"













Stuck, 2010, Oil on canvas, 22" x 24"












Untitled (Screen shot 2009-10-19 at 1.20.48), 2011, Oil on canvas, 15" x 22"









May 31 - June 21, 2010, 2010, Oil on canvas, 30" x 24"














Carey Lin received her MFA from The University of Chicago and a BA from New College of Florida in Sarasota. Lin has participated in the Vermont Studio Program, The Artist Residency at OxBow, and is a recipient of the Graduate Teaching Fellowship from The University of Chicago. Recently, Lin had a solo exhibition entitled, No way that’s it, at Zughaus Gallery in Berkeley, CA. Currently she lives and works in San Francisco.

Single Family, Colonial – Kansas City

posted in: Blog, Living Arrangements | 1
Photo courtesy of: William Fischer, Jr., May 21, 2011

Inspired by Nicole’s amazing post a couple of weeks ago where she was looking at and analyzing the diversity among Kansas City’s modern house culture, I have decided to highlight another interesting Kansas City neighborhood, Janssen Place.

The Janssen Place neighborhood is located within the larger, Hyde Park Neighborhood.  The original layout for the neighborhood was drawn by Arthur E. Stilwell in 1897.   Stilwell was born in New York and first came to Kansas City in 1879, he was interested in the potential of starting a railroad in Kansas City.  He spent the first ten years of his Kansas City life starting a Trust Company and allowed Stilwell to start construction on the railroad.  During the time the railroad was being built there were problems, delays and Wall Street failures which forced Stilwell to turn to Dutch financiers for support.

The Janssen Place neighborhood was modeled after residental neighborhoods in New York and St. Louis, “a formal area for upper class dwellings.” The name Janssen Place came from August Janssen, a Dutch capitalist who was a good friend of Arthur Stilwell.

You can find more information about Arthur Stilwell and the Janssen Place Neighborhood here:


Image from Rechelle Unplugged: http://www.rechelleunplugged.com/2009/09/a-walk-through-historic-janssen-place-hyde-park-kansas-city/
Image from William Fischer, Jr.: http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=44401


Domestic Bliss; the work of Betsy Timmer

posted in: Artists, Blog | 0
Rag Rug

In the not so distant past, women would spend their days knitting, cleaning, sewing, baking…making, yes…but mostly making for the home.  Betsy Timmer‘s work is very aware of its connection to this feminine history – neither as a victim of it nor its advocate, but using the tools and techniques of this purely domestic existence to communicate a vision for a new kind of “women’s work”. Timmer’s sculptures tend to speak to a kind of tension between a desire to connect her creative impulses and her domestic life, to enable and enrich them both.

Blue McRight

posted in: Artists, Blog | 0

At first glance Blue McRight’s small paintings on notebook paper appear innocent and even humorous. As I spent more time looking through the work, the “funny” began to be tinted by melancholy if not sinister thoughts. Abandoned or transitory housing, isolated figures, nonsensical ritualistic activities and the endless green lawns form the painted world where meaning is found in repetition. The repetition Mc Right’s paintings allude to is instantly recognizable as familiar by those of us engaged in such activities in our daily lives. Thus what at first appears familiar becomes much scarier precisely because its familiar.


Untitled (Speedo) (2006) Oil on Paper, 6'' x 9''

Untitled (Cul de Sac) (2006) Oil on Paper, 6” x 9”


Untitled (Kiss) (2007) Oil on Paper, 6'' x 9''

Untitled (Way Out West) (2007) Oil on Paper, 6” x 9′