Sunday, January 22, 2017

Continuity, Patterns & Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City (2016)
Jonathan Hale, The Old Way of Seeing. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994, pp. 67-68—

As for resembling life forms [in architecture], it is underlying pattern, not any literal representation that makes a building "come alive." Trees, which populate the landscape much as buildings do, are much more generally considered to be beautiful. But, as Frank Lloyd Wright said, a building should be like a tree, not look like a tree…Trees and people contain the same kinds of patterns. Harmonious buildings that embody life forms refer to us, they are about us. That is why we are so attracted to them.

Harmony can be defined as the resonating play of shapes. It can be gentle or strong, but it is not immobility. The old way of seeing is not repose, and it is not prettiness. It might be soft or rough. It might be cheap…or it might be the Great Pyramid, but the same design principles will guide it. Harmony in a building means relationships that work with other relationships.…

One of the purposes of ornament is to pull the eye toward the regulating lines of a building, to point out the key visual points of its geometry. Ornament strengthens the forms that are already there. The powerful governing patterns of the buildings are not decorative, they are the architecture. They are inherent in the building, just as what the building does is inherent in it: this building is a house, and it also embodies this pattern. To be a pattern if one of the building's functions. In this way a building is like music.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright and the Real River City

Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City (2016)
From an unpublished review by Paul D. Whitson of FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT and Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie. Charleston SC: History Press, 2016—

[This book is] A masterly detailed romp (staccato vivace) through the cultural and architectural history of the persons, structures, and interrelations emergent along the 1908-1911 timeline in Mason City, Iowa. Although the City National Bank, Park Inn, and Stockman residence by Frank Lloyd Wright are central, equal attention is given to the Rock Crest/Rock Glen residences actuated by the "Griffins," Byrne, Blythe, Broaten, Drummond, and Besinger. Instructive insights into the principles of design, essences of organic logic, and exposed peccadillos (good and not so) of the chief actors pleasantly compliment the illustrative architectural heart of the once prairie village. A five-star read (romp) indeed.

Friday, January 20, 2017

ANOTHER VOICE | Exhibition Opens Today

Political Illustration Exhibit Opens at MCAD
Above Good news, believe it or not, on a day of infamy. Opening today at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design is a powerful exhibition of satirical political art. Curated by legendary art director Patrick JB Flynn of the Madison-based THE FLYNSTITUTE, the exhibition is ANOTHER VOICE: Political Illustration of the Late 20th Century. Don't miss the opening this evening, with a curator's talk and a panel exchange in early February. Poster illustration above is by Henrik Drescher © 1985 from The Progressive. For more information see Another Voice.

•••

Frank Swinnerton, Swinnerton: An Autobiography. Garden City NY: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1936, p. 24—

We had a maid named Betsy, a fat elderly woman who might have been made amusing by [Charles] Dickens; for it was she who, when the groceries came home one day, horrified the entire family by clapping a vinegar bottle to her lips, drinking with zest, and, as she set it down, exclaiming: "I do LOVE winnidar!"

•••

David Garnett, The Flowers of the Forest. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1956, p. 40—

[At a certain dinner during World War I] Vanessa [Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf] was put beside Mr. [H.H.] Asquith, then Prime Minister and a man with many burdens, including the conduct of the war. Vanessa rarely read a newspaper in those days, though she was always interested in picture papers…which might suggest subjects for picture. She had missed Mr. Asquith's name, but his face was almost intolerably familiar to her…Yet she could not place him. Giving him the smile of an innocent but daring child, she risked the remark:

"Are you interested in politics?"

Vanessa's best remarks were like that, experimental and haphazard shots in the dark. When she coined an epigram it was often because she had forgotten a cliché.

"In that house you meet a dark horse in every cupboard," she once exclaimed with some indignation. And of Maynard [Keynes]: "It runs off his back like duck's water." But of all her sayings the most withering was: "Ah, that will be canker to his worm."

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Man Who Mistook Someone's Hat For His

Frank Swinnerton, Swinnerton: An Autobiography. Garden City NY: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1936, p. 28-29 [recalling an incident at a London publishing firm where he worked]—

He [a co-worker named Martin, who was the company cashier] had a very large round head, upon which he wore a great dusty bowler hat; and one Saturday, when everybody but myself had gone home, I was dismayed to find that he had taken my hat and left this monster [his hat] behind. Despair grew when it dawned upon me that the hat came down to my chin. But at last I recollected that Martin was most likely to be found in a local pub, and set out in search of him as Cockney wives sometimes go on Saturday nights in search of their husbands, opening swing doors and quickly scanning the faces in the bar.

My search was brief. He was sitting on a tall stool in the center of the saloon bar of the Essex Serpent, in King Street. In his outstretched arms was a newspaper; a pipe was held firmly in his front teeth; and high upon his big white head, looking in its inadequacy like a thimble, was perched my little hat. I removed it firmly; and Martin was very annoyed, first with me for entering a pub at all, second with himself for having taken my hat, and finally again with me for knowing where he was to be found. Poor man, his life was a misery.

•••

Note We will add this to our ever expanding collection of stories about those who have mistaken someone else's hat (or other item of clothing) for their own. Go here, for example, for another hat confusion tale by British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, or here for Mircea Eliade's story about walking off with Claude Lévi-Strauss' raincoat.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Baby Hummingbirds Nesting in Mexico

Baby Hummingbird © Craig Ede
Above and below Baby hummingbirds in nest in Mexico a few weeks ago, as photographed by artist Craig Ede (sounds like tweed), long-time friend and schoolmate.

•••

After living elsewhere for almost two decades, in 1990 I moved back to Iowa, where I had been born and raised. Soon after, as I browsed in a second-hand bookstore, I was surprised and delighted to find a paperback volume of essays by American satirist H.L. Mencken. Even as a high school student, I had read nearly all his writings, and had purchased at the time a series of Vintage paperbacks, the covers of which had been designed by graphic designer Paul Rand. It was one of the books from that series that I suddenly found on the shelf in that store. I felt a surge of nostalgia as I reached for the book; it was not only a touchstone, it was the exact same edition as well. Imagine my greater astonishment when, seconds later, as I turned to the flyleaf—I found my own signature.

I recalled this recently while reading the memoirs of British writer Richard Aldington, titled Life for Life's Sake (New York: Viking, 1941). Although the circumstances were different, I thought of my own experience as he described what happened to him when he returned to London after serving in World War I (pp. 202-203)—

[In a London bookstore] A little further down was a display of French books. One shelf of about forty particularly held my attention. I thought: This is a remarkable coincidence; it's the first time in my life I've ever seen a row of second-hand books, every one of which I've read. Mechanically I pulled down one of them and opened it. On the flyleaf was written: Richard Aldington. I took down another, with the same result.

My first thought was that the house where I had stored my books had been burgled; and full of righteous indignation I plunged into the shop to try to trace the thief. Again the bookseller remembered me, and at once looked up his records. If I had suddenly and unexpectedly been hit between the eyes I could not have been more stunned than when I learned the books had been sold by a "friend," a Bloomsbury intellectual, who had rooms in the house and therefore access to the storeroom. Evidently he had come to the conclusion that I was unlikely to return from the front, and that since the books were no use to him he might as well change them into beer.

Baby Hummingbirds © Craig Ede

Richard Aldington (from the same book), p. 206—

My French colleague, Henry de Montherlant, making a pilgrimage of devotion to the sacred field of [the Battle of] Verdun, found skulls of our dead comrades on which tourists had scratched their names and the initials of their country.

•••

Rex Beach, Personal Exposures (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1940), p. 166 [his recollection of having been attacked by a huge crocodile while making a wildlife film]—

To this day it gives me a chill to see an alligator-hide suitcase with the lid open. I don't trust those creatures even when they have brass fittings and a monogram.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

David Suter Poster | Kaycee Miller 2016

David Suter Poster | Kaycee Miller 2016
Above Poster designed by Kaycee Miller, graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa, commemorating the work of American artist David Suter, whose editorial-page illustrations were widely acclaimed during the Watergate Era. •

A two-day campus visit by the artist took place on October 24-25, 2016,at the University of Northern Iowa. Sponsored by the UNI Department of Art, the event was part of the Meryl Norton Hearst Lecture Series.

Suter's editorial illustrations have been described as "puzzles and mindbogglers, tricks of the subconscious, and foolers of the eye." Some people call them visual puns or metaphors, but the artist prefers "to think of them as equations…It's a little like algebra. I try to combine two images through a process of finding similarities and canceling out dissimilar aspects."

Concurrent with David Suter's campus visit, there were exhibits of his OpEd drawings and of a series of posters (including the one shown here) by UNI graphic design students that celebrated his drawings.

•••

Frank Swinnerton, Swinnerton: An Autobiography. Garden City NY: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1936, p. 28-29 [recalling the bullying he observed in a school that he attended in London]—

All [six boy] pupils were taught in the same room [and were largely unsupervised]…two horrid little devils declared a vendetta against the only other boy of roughly their own size, the spectacle of which moved me to such helpless rage that in thinking of it now I still feel embarrassed distaste. While the master was there these wretches did no more than stick lighted matches into the boy's tweed coat. When the master was away, as he often was, they had greater liberty, of which they took instant advantage. They wrenched their enemy's arms, speared, pinched, and kicked him until his shins must have been black and his flesh purple; and at last forced his head  murderously back over desks and parallel bars until he became blue in the face. It was appalling. I was too weak to lend an effective aid; the boy was too plucky to tell tales and was not strong enough to resist such implacable foes; and these foes grew every day more and more reckless, more and more outrageously brutal. At last, when he was being tortured one morning to the limit of endurance, I (a sort of Sister Anne at the window) caught sight of the master without, frantically summoned him by means of a wild rapping on the pane, and so brought the horror to an end.

• The drawing in the poster is the copyright of David Suter. All rights reserved.

David Suter Poster | Eldina Siljkovic 2016

David Suter Poster | Eldina Siljikovic 2016
Above Poster designed by Eldina Siljikovic, graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa, commemorating the work of American artist David Suter, whose editorial-page illustrations were widely acclaimed during the Watergate Era. •

A two-day campus visit by the artist took place on October 24-25, 2016,at the University of Northern Iowa. Sponsored by the UNI Department of Art, the event was part of the Meryl Norton Hearst Lecture Series.

Suter's editorial illustrations have been described as "puzzles and mindbogglers, tricks of the subconscious, and foolers of the eye." Some people call them visual puns or metaphors, but the artist prefers "to think of them as equations…It's a little like algebra. I try to combine two images through a process of finding similarities and canceling out dissimilar aspects."

Concurrent with David Suter's campus visit, there were exhibits of his OpEd drawings and of a series of posters (including the one shown here) by UNI graphic design students that celebrated his drawings.

•••

Frank Swinnerton, Swinnerton: An Autobiography. Garden City NY: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1936, p. 17 [remembering his father, an impoverished copperplate engraver in London]—

If, on Saturday, he was lucky enough to draw some larger money he would be induced to have two or three glasses of beer (which he could never stand), and would arrive home late in the evening a little stupid, with glassy eyes and a painfully courteous manner, carrying some bags of squashed tomatoes and other peace offerings, which he would put mutely upon the kitchen table. It is terrible to think that his marketing had always been bad, so that what he brought was largely useless and unvalued; but if he had silver in his pockets he always produced the whole of it, keeping nothing back, but setting it down with a truly distasteful gesture beside the tomatoes. On such occasions I fancy we were all rather brusque with him, my mother particularly so; and yet I do not recall that there were at any time outspoken quarrels between them. My mother frowned and marched about with her head in the air, dry-eyed, as if she were out of patience with anybody so fatuous; and he sat sighing, very quiet and polite, rather drowsy, at intervals saying humbly: "Can I help you, Ma?" and receiving the briefest courtesies in reply.

• The drawing in the poster is the copyright of David Suter. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Jordan Goldbeck

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Jordan Goldbeck •
Above Poster by Jordan Goldbeck, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

John Aubrey, in Ruth Scurr (ed.), John Aubrey: My Own Life. London: Vintage, 2015, pp. 327-328—

 Sir Henry Blount, who is over eighty years of age, his mind still strong, has been taken very ill in London: his feet extremely swollen… He is fond of saying that he does not care to have his servants go to church lest they socialize with other servants and become corrupted into visiting the alehouse and debauchery. Instead he encourages them to go and see the [public] executions at Tyburn, which, he claims, have more influence over them than all the oratory in the sermons.

• Photograph used in poster copyright © Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Emily Brown 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Emily Brown •
Above Poster by Emily Brown, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

John Aubrey, in Ruth Scurr (ed.), John Aubrey: My Own Life. London: Vintage, 2015, pp. 376-377 and 379—

July 1690
Mr. Wood [British antiquarian Anthony à Wood] sends me so many queries. I trouble myself to find the answers for him, despite the troubles that press upon me. I desire to give Mr. Wood my watch, which was a gift from the Earl of Pembroke, to remember me by. I will be my own executor and send it to him as soon as the watchmaker has finished mending it.

•••

April 1691
Mr. Wood has complained that the watch I gave him does not work well, but it kept time indifferently when I had it. The days of the month were always faulty but that isn't worth a chip. I have told him that if he has it mended he should do so in London rather than Oxford. I believe it cost at least 10 li. [pounds] when the Earl of Pembroke bought it for me.

• Photograph used in poster copyright ©Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Riley Green 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Riley Green *
Above Poster by Riley Green, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

John Aubrey, in Ruth Scurr (ed.), John Aubrey: My Own Life. London: Vintage, 2015, p. 179—

Mr. [James] Harrington [British political theorist] suffers from the strangest sort of madness I have ever found in anyone. He imagines his perspiration turns to flies, or sometimes to bees. He has had a movable timber house built in Mr. Hart's garden (opposite to St. James Park), to try an experiment to prove this delusion. He turns the timber structure to face the sun, chases all the flies and bees out of it, or kills them, then shuts the windows right. But inevitably he misses some concealed in crannies of the cloth hangings and when they show themselves he cries out, "Do you not see that these come from me?" Aside from this, his discourse is rational.

• Photograph used in poster © Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Chris Hall 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Chris Hall •
Above Poster by Chris Hall, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

John Aubrey, in Ruth Scurr (ed.), John Aubrey: My Own Life. London: Vintage, 2015, p. 256—

Mr. [Robert] Hooke [prominent British philosopher, scientist and architect] believes all vegetables are females. He told us about his principle of flying and we drank port. Mr. Hooke claims that when he was a schoolboy at Westminster School he devised thirty different ways of flying. He imagines flying by some mechanical means: a chariot pulled by horses; or powered by vanes; or bending springs by gunpowder. I consider Mr. Hooke the greatest mechanic alive in the world today.

• Photograph used in poster © Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Abi Watson 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Abi Watson (2016) •
Above Poster by Abi Watson, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

Augusta, Lady Gregory, in Lennox Robinson, ed., Lady Gregory's Journals 1916-1930. New York: MacMillan, 1947, p. 205—

He [George Bernard Shaw] talked afterwards of what Wilfred Blunt had written of William Morris and of his being without love for anyone (except his invalid daughter), and said it is so often with men immersed in their work, they have no room for another strong affection. The first time he saw Mrs. Morris [Jane Burden Morris] it was a shock. She was lying full-length on a sofa, her long limbs covered, and looked death-like—like clay. He was trying the other day if he could remember anything she ever said and could not, except that one day when he had taken a second helping of some pudding, she said, "You seem to like that pudding," and when he answered "Yes," she said, "There is suet in it." That word, aimed at his vegetarianism, is all he can remember.

• Photograph used in poster copyright © Joseph Podlesnilk. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Taoism, Frank Lloyd Wright and Space Within

Frank Lloyd Wright photomontage (2016) •
Laozi [formerly Lao-Tze or Lao-Tse], Tao Te Ching (c. 4th century BC)—

Thirty spokes meet in the hub, but the empty space between them is the essence of the wheel. Pots are formed from clay, but the empty space within it is the essence of the pot. Walls with windows and doors form the house, but the empty space within it is the essence of the home.

•••

Jonathan Hale, The Old Way of Seeing (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994), pp. 176-177—

[Frank Lloyd] Wright played with such [surface] decoration, but he abandoned it around 1900. Wright's continuity meant that each element and aspect—shape, color, texture—participates, not as one thing on another but as one thing with another. This is why Wright came to understand that materials required expression for what they were. The purpose was not to be morally honest, but to let each element be seen and experienced individually. In the unity of a Wright building, every component is active.

The essence of each material stands out. Wood is not painted, because paint would conceal its "woodness"—its color, grain, odor. Paint would muddy the experience of continity, which accords value to everything. So the wood is unpainted. The blocky rectangularity of brick is revealed so that each brick reads as a clear element. Wright would never paint brick…because the idea is to emphasize "brickness." The Wright building does not use brick, it is brick. But geometry comes ahead of material in a Wright building…But even the pattern is not dominant. Wright uses pattern to bring out space. Space, the nothing, is dominant.

• Montage by Roy R. Behrens (© 2016). Public domain image sources: Carol M. Highsmith photograph of V.C. Morris building, and Al Ravenna, photograph of Frank Lloyd Wright (New York World-Telegram and the Sun Collection), both from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs.

See also: Roy R. Behrens, FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT and Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie (2016). 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Frank Lloyd Wright | His Favorite Jokes

Roy R. Behrens, Robie House Montage (2016) •
David Henken (Wright apprentice and engineer, in a letter to his wife), in Priscilla J. Henken, Taliesin Diary: A Year with Frank Lloyd Wright (New York: W.W. Norton, 2012), p. 92—

[After Christmas dinner in 1942] Frank [Lloyd Wright] read some jokes from a gift book he received, killed himself laughing at each joke so that we couldn't hear them at all. I managed to piece a few together as samples show.

Father: When George Washington was your age, he was working as a surveyor and making a success of himself. 
Son: When he was your age he was President of the United States.

Grandmother to granddaughter: Dear I want you to promise me never to use a certain two words—one is swell and the other lousy.
Granddaughter: Why, of course, I'll promise. What are the words?

•••

Frank Lloyd Wright

Television is chewing gum for the eyes. 

•  Image sources: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs, and NASA. See also Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie (2016)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Frank Lloyd Wright Gold Medal | 1982

Frank Lloyd Wright gold medal (1982)
Above  Frank Lloyd Wright half ounce gold medal. American Arts Commemorative Series. US Treasury, 1982. Wikipedia Commons. Heritage Auctions. Public domain.

•••

Edgar Tafel, Years with Frank Lloyd Wright: Apprentice to Genius. New York: Dover Publications, 1985, pp. 85-86—

If we [Frank Lloyd Wright's apprentices] expected one thing, he did another. If we did something one way on one day, it was not necessary to do it the same way the next. Coming back from [an unexpected detour into] Canada, we went through Niagara Falls. When we got to the border, the customs man asked, "All of you born in the United States?" Before we could stop him, Manuel [an apprentice woodworker] yelled out, "Born in Nee-kah-RAAH-wah" and then admitted he hadn't brought his papers. None of us knew we were going through Canada, so it had never occurred to Manuel to bring his documents. "Follow me," said the official, and we watched him lead Manuel off to the customs detention office. That was it for Mr. Wright. He got furious, burst out of the car, and besieged the office. I waited in the car for a while, then got curious. I went to the office to see what was up. There was Mr. Wright stomping around and declaring to everyone that he was a great American, that he was a friend of Carl Sandburg and Clarence Darrow, that he was an internationally known architect, that he'd never do anything that wasn't thoroughly American. The customs officials were completely dismayed. They let Manuel go, and we returned to the car and drove on toward Buffalo. Within five minutes, Mr. Wright was snoozing. He could fall asleep anywhere, anytime.

Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City (2016)

Prairie School, Iowa and Frank Lloyd Wright

Prairie panoramas (c1910). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs.
W.O. Mitchell—

High above the prairie, platter-flat, the wind wings on, bereft and wild its lonely song.

•••

Loren Lown—

We have left less than one-tenth of one percent of our prairie. The rest of it died to make Iowa safe for soybeans.

•••

Bill Bryson (The Lost Continent)—

I had forgotten how empty and flat it [the American Midwest] is. Stand on two phone books almost anywhere in Iowa and you get a view.

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT and Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie (2016)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Frank Lloyd Wright | Judge Not

Page spread from Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City (2016)
Edgar Tafel, Ed., About Wright: An Album of Recollections by Those Who Knew Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: John Wiley, 1993, p. 255—

In 1946 I sat, apprehensive, for the interview part of the New York license examination. The interview was held in a formal and imposing setting—I was at one end of a long table facing eight judging architects. They passed my application folder ceremoniously among themselves, each either grunting or sniggering—a few smiling—as their eyes fell on a certain folder notation. There seemed to be mystery afoot. When my folder reached the last reviewer and the closest to me, I took a look at it. I notice a familiar Wright red square on the letter at the top of the group of recommendations. Knowing immediately that it was from Wright and being unable to restrain my curiosity, I asked if I could hear what Wright had written about me. The judge replied in a dour tone, "He says we aren't qualified to judge you." I was allowed to take the examination and I passed.

Frank Lloyd Wright | Sleight of Hand

Cover | Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City (2016)
Edgar Tafel, Ed., About Wright: An Album of Recollections by Those Who Knew Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: John Wiley, 1993, p. 69—

A building committee from a Lutheran church came to see [Frank Lloyd] Wright; they discussed a program and went away, being told to come back in two weeks. When the two weeks were about up, Gene [Masselink, his assistant] suggested to Wright they call off the visit to see the plans—they hadn't been started—at the last minute. Mr. Wright had the plans for an abandoned job, a small shopping center, brought out of the vault, and he change the titles of the areas; the bank became the sanctuary, the supermarket became the Fellowship Hall, the stores were entitled classrooms, and on and on. The Lutheran title was inscribed just as the Lutherans arrived, and Mr. Wright showed them the drawings, with accustomed gusto and aplomb. After he finished his talk, the pastor said: "Lord, we thank thee for leading us to a great architect, who has designed in your honor, an edifice we will use and enjoy. Amen." Heads were raised; the clients departed; end of story? The building never got built.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Nick Baumann 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Nicholas Baumann (2016) •
Above Poster by Nicholas Baumann, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••
 
Frank Luther Mott in "The SPCS" [Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Speakers] in The Palimpest (State Historical Society of Iowa). Vol 43 No 3 (March 1962), pp. 114-115—

I think the best speech I ever made was one to a Rotary Club which had asked me to discuss "Freedom of the Press" during Newspaper Week. I shall favor my readers with the entire speech herewith: "Mr. President. Gentlemen of the Rotary Club: There is no such thing as freedom of the press. I thank you." Then I sat down, to the consternation of the program chairman. Of course, I spoiled it all later by yielding to the urging of the president to go on and say something about it anyway, and I talked for a while about the nature of freedom and the controls to which the press is subject. It would have served right and served me well for my smart aleck "hamming" if the Rotarians had all walked out immediately after I had sat down, but they were so intrigued by the spectacle of a man who actually appeared not to want to make a speech that they stayed it out.

• Photograph used in the poster copyright © Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Kaycee Miller 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Kaycee Miller (2016) •
Above Poster by Kaycee Miller, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••
Jack Pritchard, View From a Long Chair. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984, p. 124—

{Bauhaus designer Laszlo] Moholy-Nagy had a wonderful way of using words as if in error or through not understanding—sometimes, I suspect, on purpose. On one occasion John Betjeman had taken him to a party. As Moholy left he said to the hostess in his strange pronunciation, "Thank you for your hostilities." She was a little taken aback, and when Moholy told John Betjeman what had happened, Betjeman said: "Oh I don't worry—she is hostile to everyone."

• Photograph used in poster copyright © Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Megan Wellik 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Megan Wellik (2016) •
Above Poster by Megan Wellik, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

Evelyn Waugh, A Little Learning (Boston: Little Brown, 1964), p. 29——

I remember a small sharp disappointment on the death of a pet rabbit. It developed a growth in the jaw and was sent to the vet to be killed. This was explained to me and I was reconciled to its loss. But the vet on his own initiative decided to operate. He sent the animal back a week later pronouncing it cured. I greeted it ecstatically and it died that night.

• Photograph used in poster copyright © Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Joseph Podesnik Poster | Lauren Garnes 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Lauren Garnes (2016) •
Above Poster by Lauren Garnes, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

Leonard Woolf [British writer, husband of Virginia Woolf] in Sowing: An Autobiography of the Years 1880 to 1904. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1960, p. 151—

And [British philosopher] Bertrand Russell has described the pleasure with which one used to watch philosopher [G.E.] Moore trying unsuccessfully to light his pipe when he was arguing an important point. He would light a match, hold it over the bowl of his pipe until it burnt his fingers and he had to throw it away, and go on doing this—talking the whole time or listening intently to the other man's argument—until the whole box of matches was exhausted.

• Photograph used in poster copyright © Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Eldina Siljkovic 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Eldina Siljkovic (2016)
Above Poster by Eldina Siljkovic, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

Morse Peckham, Man's Rage for Chaos: Biology, Behavior and the Arts. New York: Chilton Books, 1965—

Our lives are bathed in a continuous flow of signs which we interpret to catch the world in an ever-shifting network of categories. The condition of human life is continuous categorical metamorphosis. We are forever engaged in constructing around us an architecture of categories as fluid and yielding to our interests as the air. There is nothing man has not sacrificed, including millions of his fellow human beings, in the vain effort to fix that architecture, to stabilize his categories. But all knowledge, all science, all learning, all history, all thought are unstable, cannot be made static, even by the majesty of the law armed with the power of brute force.

• Photograph used in poster copyright © Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Kaycee Miller

Joseph Podlesnik poster © Kaycee Miller (2016) •
Above Poster by Kaycee Miller, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Weed—a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. 

• Photograph used in poster copyright © Joseph Podlesnik. All right reserved.

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Jordan Goldbeck

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Jordan Goldbeck (2016)
Above Poster by Jordan Goldbeck, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

Norwood R. Hanson in Patterns of Discovery. Cambridge University Press, 1958—

Seeing is an experience. A retinal reaction is only a physical state… People, not their eyes, see. Cameras, and eyeballs, are blind…there is more to seeing than meets the eyeball.

• Photograph used in poster copyright © Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Ellen Holt 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Ellen Holt (2016) •
Above Poster by Ellen Holt, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

Saki in The Chronicles of Clovis. New York: Penguin Classics, 1989—

"Is your maid called Florence?" "Her name is Florinda." "What an extraordinary name to give a maid!" "I did not give it to her; she arrived in my service already christened." "What I mean is," said Mrs. Riversedge, "that when I get maids with unsuitable names I call them Jane; they soon get used to it." "An excellent plan," said the aunt of Clovis coldly; "unfortunately I have got used to being called Jane myself. It happens to be my name."

•••

H.G. Wells in Tales of Life and Adventure and Tales of Wonder. London: Heron Books, 1968—

"It's giving girls names like that [Euphemia]," said Buggins, "that nine times out of ten makes 'em go wrong. It unsettles 'em. If ever I was to have a girl, if ever I was to have a dozen girls, I'd call 'em all Jane."

• Photograph used in poster copyright © Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Brandon Fagle 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Brandon Fagle (2016) •
Above Poster by Brandon Fagle, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry. New York: Grove Press, 1998—

I call him Jordan and it will do. He has no other name before or after. What was there to call him, fished as he was from the stinking Thames? A child can't be called Thames, no and not Nile either, for all his likeness to Moses. But I wanted to give him a river name, a name not bound to anything, just as the waters aren't bound to anything.

• Photograph used in poster copyright © Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Joseph Podlesnik Poster | Kate O'Dell 2016

Joseph Podlesnik Poster © Kate O'Dell (2016) •
Above Poster by Kate O'Dell, graphic design student, Department of Art, University of Northern Iowa, in celebration of the photographs of Joseph Podlesnik. An artist, photographer, and filmmaker (BFA University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MFA Cornell University), he is associate professor and lead faculty for foundations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In 2016, he received the Inez Hall Outstanding Faculty Award. He lives in Phoenix AZ.

Podlesnik's photographs (reproduced with his permission from Almost Seeing) are of particular interest because (despite appearances) they were not constructed in Adobe Photoshop, by sandwiching multiple layers. Nor are they double exposures. They are simply single frame, through the lens camera shots, by which he makes astonishing use of light, shadow and reflections.

•••

Helen Barbour, quoted in Remar Sutton and Mary Abbott Waite, eds., The Common Ground Book: A Circle of Friends. Latham NY: British American Publishing, 1992, p. 237-238—

A group of us were driving up to a place in northwest Scotland. There were three of us in the backseat, Alastair, me, someone else. And we went past a house on the left side of the road which had turf on the roof with crocuses growing. It was March or April. And I turned to Alastair and said, "One day, when we have a house like that, we'll have crocuses and daffodils on the roof." Then I was immediately quiet because I realized what I'd said.

Alastair was very quiet for the next day or two…then he proposed.

• Photograph used in poster copyright © Joseph Podlesnik. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Artist David Suter | Suterisms

American artist David Suter, whose editorial-page illustrations were widely acclaimed during the Watergate Era, is coming to the University of Northern Iowa. The artist's two-day visit will begin with a presentation titled "Studies in Form" at 7 p.m., Monday, October 24, 2016 in the Kamerick Art Building Auditorium (Room 111). Sponsored by the UNI Department of Art, the event is part of the Meryl Norton Hearst Lecture Series and is free and open to the public.

After working as a courtroom artist during the Watergate indictments, Suter went on to become a prominent OpEd and book review illustrator for the New York Times, Washington Post, Time magazine, Harper's, The Atlantic, The Progressive, and other major publications. His distinctive drawings at the time were comprised of puzzle-like political images that were in part inspired by the work of M.C. Escher. His selected drawings were later published as a book titled Suterisms (see cover above).

Suterisms have been described as "puzzles and mindbogglers, tricks of the subconscious, and foolers of the eye." Some people call them visual puns or metaphors, but the artist prefers "to think of them as equations…It's a little like algebra. I try to combine two images through a process of finding similarities and canceling out dissimilar aspects."

Although he still makes drawings, in recent years Suter has turned primarily to painting and sculpture, and currently exhibits his work in art galleries. While on the UNI campus on Tuesday, he will informally talk to students and faculty about his working process, the evolution of his career and related subjects.

Concurrent with David Suter's campus visit, there will be exhibits of his OpEd drawings and of a series of posters by UNI graphic design students that commemorate his work. These exhibits will be on view from October 17 through 29 in the Kamerick Art Building (ground floor south) during regular building hours.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

David Suter Poster | Jordan Goldbeck 2016

Drawing © David Suter / Poster by Jordan Goldbeck 2016
Above Poster designed by Jordan Goldbeck (graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa), commemorating the work of American artist David Suter, whose editorial-page illustrations were widely acclaimed during the Watergate Era.

A two-day visit by the artist will begin with a presentation titled "Studies in Form" at 7 p.m., Monday, October 24, 2016 in the Kamerick Art Building Auditorium (Room 111). Sponsored by the UNI Department of Art, the event is part of the Meryl Norton Hearst Lecture Series and is free and open to the public.

Suter's editorial illustrations have been described as "puzzles and mindbogglers, tricks of the subconscious, and foolers of the eye." Some people call them visual puns or metaphors, but the artist prefers "to think of them as equations…It's a little like algebra. I try to combine two images through a process of finding similarities and canceling out dissimilar aspects."

Concurrent with David Suter's campus visit, there will be exhibits of his OpEd drawings and of a series of posters (including the one shown here) by UNI graphic design students that celebrate his drawings. These exhibits will be on view from October 17 through 29 in the Kamerick Art Building (ground floor south) during regular building hours.

David Suter Poster | Ellen Holt 2016

Drawing © David Suter / Poster by Ellen Holt 2016
Above Poster designed by Ellen Holt (graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa), commemorating the work of American artist David Suter, whose editorial-page illustrations were widely acclaimed during the Watergate Era.

A two-day visit by the artist will begin with a presentation titled "Studies in Form" at 7 p.m., Monday, October 24, 2016 in the Kamerick Art Building Auditorium (Room 111). Sponsored by the UNI Department of Art, the event is part of the Meryl Norton Hearst Lecture Series and is free and open to the public.

Suter's editorial illustrations have been described as "puzzles and mindbogglers, tricks of the subconscious, and foolers of the eye." Some people call them visual puns or metaphors, but the artist prefers "to think of them as equations…It's a little like algebra. I try to combine two images through a process of finding similarities and canceling out dissimilar aspects."

Concurrent with David Suter's campus visit, there will be exhibits of his OpEd drawings and of a series of posters (including the one shown here) by UNI graphic design students that celebrate his drawings. These exhibits will be on view from October 17 through 29 in the Kamerick Art Building (ground floor south) during regular building hours.

David Suter Poster | Chris Hall 2016

Drawing © David Suter / Poster by Chris Hall 2016
Above Poster designed by Chris Hall (graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa), commemorating the work of American artist David Suter, whose editorial-page illustrations were widely acclaimed during the Watergate Era.

A two-day visit by the artist will begin with a presentation titled "Studies in Form" at 7 p.m., Monday, October 24, 2016 in the Kamerick Art Building Auditorium (Room 111). Sponsored by the UNI Department of Art, the event is part of the Meryl Norton Hearst Lecture Series and is free and open to the public.

Suter's editorial illustrations have been described as "puzzles and mindbogglers, tricks of the subconscious, and foolers of the eye." Some people call them visual puns or metaphors, but the artist prefers "to think of them as equations…It's a little like algebra. I try to combine two images through a process of finding similarities and canceling out dissimilar aspects."

Concurrent with David Suter's campus visit, there will be exhibits of his OpEd drawings and of a series of posters (including the one shown here) by UNI graphic design students that celebrate his drawings. These exhibits will be on view from October 17 through 29 in the Kamerick Art Building (ground floor south) during regular building hours.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Artist David Suter | Hearst Lectures 2016-17

Image © David Suter / Poster by Allison Rolinger
Above Poster designed by Allison Rolinger, graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa, advertising the first event in this year's Meryl Hearst Lecture Series.

Sponsored by the UNI Department of Art, this year's series (with the theme DOUBLED OVER: Wit and Irony in Art and Design) will begin with a public presentation by American artist David Suter, whose editorial-page illustrations were widely acclaimed during the Watergate Era. His presentation, titled "Studies in Form," will take place at 7 p.m., Monday, October 24, 2016 in the Kamerick Art Building Auditorium (Room 111).

The series is free and open to the public.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

David Suter | OpEd Artist Coming Soon to UNI

Above American artist David Suter, whose editorial-page illustrations were widely acclaimed during the Watergate Era, is coming to the University of Northern Iowa. The artist's two-day visit will begin with a presentation titled "Studies in Form" at 7 p.m., Monday, October 24, 2016 in the Kamerick Art Building Auditorium (Room 111). Sponsored by the UNI Department of Art, the event is part of the Meryl Norton Hearst Lecture Series and is free and open to the public.

After working as a courtroom artist during the Watergate indictments, Suter went on to become a prominent OpEd and book review illustrator for the New York Times, Washington Post, Time magazine, Harper's, The Atlantic, The Progressive, and other major publications. His distinctive drawings at the time were comprised of puzzle-like political images that were in part inspired by the work of M.C. Escher. His selected drawings were later published as a book titled Suterisms.

Suterisms have been described as "puzzles and mindbogglers, tricks of the subconscious, and foolers of the eye." Some people call them visual puns or metaphors, but the artist prefers "to think of them as equations…It's a little like algebra. I try to combine two images through a process of finding similarities and canceling out dissimilar aspects."

Although he still makes drawings, in recent years Suter has turned primarily to painting and sculpture, and currently exhibits his work in art galleries. While on the UNI campus on Tuesday, he will informally talk to students and faculty about his working process, the evolution of his career and related subjects.

Concurrent with David Suter's campus visit, there will be exhibits of his OpEd drawings and of a series of posters by UNI graphic design students that commemorate his work. These exhibits will be on view from October 17 through 29 in the Kamerick Art Building (ground floor south) during regular building hours.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Frank Lloyd Wright at Cedar Rock | Fall 2016

Poster designed by Danielle Shearer
Above Poster announcing this year's program for AN AFTERNOON WITH FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, to take place at 1:00 to 4:00 pm on Saturday, October 15, 2016, at American Legion Hall, 102 Water Street, Quasqueton IA.

Organized annually by the Friends of Cedar Rock and supported by a generous grant from Humanities Iowa, the program for this year's event includes Child of the Sun: Great American Campus, presented by Mark Tlachc, Director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor's Center, Florida Southern College, Lakeland FL; and Frank Lloyd Wright and Kenneth Laurent: One Man's Vision to Better Another Man's Life, presented by Jerry Heinzeroth, President, Laurent House Foundation, Rockford IL.

For reservations, contact Cedar Rock State Park at (319) 934-3572 or email cedar_rock@dnr.iowa.gov. Suggested donation is $10.00 per person.

See also: Roy R. Behrens, FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT and Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie (2016).

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Lytton Strachey's Strange Falsetto Squeak

Photograph c2015 © Joseph Podlesnik
Above Photograph by Joseph Podlesnik. When I first met him in the early 1980s, Joe was completing his BFA in painting and drawing, with a minor in English, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His foremost achievement then was the adroitness of his vision-based drawing skills, and to great extent it continues to be, although he has since branched out to film-making, teaching—and, as this phenomenal image confirms, to drive-by photography. At much as it may appear to be, this is not the product of layered manipulation in Adobe Photoshop. This is an on-site camera shot. A second photograph is below. And a book of his photographs, titled Almost Seeing, can also be previewed and purchased online.

•••

Leonard Woolf [British writer, husband of Virginia Woolf] in Sowing: An Autobiography of the Years 1880 to 1904. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1960, p. 133—

[Describing the mannerisms of British Bloomsbury writer Lytton Stratchey] His body was long, thin, and rather ungainly; all his movements, including his walk, were slow and slightly hesitant…When he sat in a chair, he appeared to have tied his body, and particularly his legs, into what I always called a Strachean knot. There was a Strachean voice, common to him and to all his nine brothers and sisters…It was mainly derived, I think, from the mother and consisted in an unusual stress accent, heavy emphasis on words here and there in a sentence, combined with an unusual tonic accent, so that emphasis and pitch continually changed, often in a kind of syncopated rhythm. It was extremely catching, and most people who saw much of Lytton acquired the Strachey voice and never completely lost it. Lytton himself added another peculiarity to the family cadence. Normally his voice was low and fairly deep, but every now and again it went up into a falsetto, almost a squeak.

Strachey's strange falsetto squeak was also famously described by British writer Robert Graves in Goodbye to All That, Garden City NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1957—

[During World War I] Lytton Strachey was unfit, but instead of allowing himself to be rejected by the doctors he preferred to appear before a military tribunal as a conscientious objector. He told us of the extraordinary impression that was caused by an air cushion which he inflated during the proceedings as a protest again the hardness of the benches. Asked by the chairman the usual question: "I understand, Mr. Strachey, that you have a conscientious objection to war?" he replied (in his curious falsetto voice), "Oh no, not at all, only to this war." Better than this was his reply to the chairman's other stock question, which had previously never failed to embarrass the claimant: "Tell me, Mr. Strachey, what would you do if you saw a German soldier trying to violate your sister?" With an air of noble virtue: "I would try to get between them."

Photograph c2015 © Joseph Podlesnik