I have a long standing obsession with Frank Lloyd Wright and his work... and not just because I grew up in the shadow of one of his workshops. His designs speak to me and the experience of being inside one of his buildings is like no other. There's not another architect I know of where I can feel his mark on the place just through the physical act of walking through the door. Looking at photographs doesn't do him justice... you have to experience a Frank Lloyd Wright building to know what I'm talking about.

(click on the photos to embiggen - some day I'll get a blog platform that allows for a decent size viewing of a photograph... but not today)

I once heard one of my favorite singers, Tony Bennett, sing in a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed concert hall. Somewhere in the middle of the show, he paused, looked out around him at the hall and said, "Woo! Frank Lloyd Wright... he really got it RIGHT, didn't he?" Sure it was corny... but then to demonstrate the acoustics of the hall, Tony had the entire band turn off all their electronics and he sang a song a capella in that great big hall. You could hear him as clearly in the last seat of the upper balcony as you could if you'd been standing on the stage next to him.

Wright's life was an interesting mix of hubris and tragedy which makes him fascinating and complicated as a person. You never know whether to love him, hate him, feel sorry for him or admire him... and consequently, I do all those. As his career started to take off, Wright began "signing" all of his buildings with these red tiles. He called the color Cherokee Red (although I've seen many shades of this color and they all tend to be called the same thing) and it was arguably his favorite color (not a soda) meant to harmonize the natural colors of both brick and wood. He kind of became a rock star in the architectural world and is the only person I know of who signed his buildings, although, I'm sure that others have followed suit since then.

I have to admit, the Guggenheim Museum is not one of my favorites. I know some people think it's the pinnacle of modern art; personally, I've never really responded to the outside of it like I have other Wright buildings. But I did want to see it just the same so we decided to make a quick stop there on our way to one of the many fine eating establishments we patronized. Unlike D.C. (and one of the reasons I love D.C.), museums in New York are not free. You have to pay a tidy sum to go look at the art and when you do that, you tend to feel you need to stay there all day to make your visit worth the admission price. In D.C., I will go in a museum to look at one painting I've been hankering to see, then turn around and leave. Not so, when you have to pay an arm and a leg to see the same painting. You have to amortize the cost of admission over hundreds of works and that tends to kill the day. We did not have the day - we did not have twenty minutes - and while one day I'd really like to comb every one of the hallways in the Guggenheim, my big investment this time was in seeing the building. So I hung out in the lobby, looking pretentious and trying to take artsy photos while my traveling companions looked at postcards of the artwork in the gift shop. We're nothing if not frugal.

Outside, it looks like all the photos you've seen, it's modern and different, but maybe because it's modern and different it's a little bit unremarkable. Then you walk through the door, he explodes the box once again, and it's that same old hero worship:

I really need to find a better lens for my camera or bring a tripod with me everywhere I go because most of the pictures I took came out too blurry to use for anything but proof that I'd been there. I'm irked by that fact, but I guess it just gives me an excuse to go back to New York sooner.