Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

ASU Gammage, Part 4

My tour of Gammage moved inside the auditorium and, I must say, it is spectacular. No productions were being staged — thus the stage was empty so you can even see backstage. At the center back of the stage is a symphony wall which is now movable and removable. You might recall that outside the box office stands a wall displaying posters of upcoming shows. Well, that wall is actually the storage "closet" for this symphony wall. It is heavy and was not designed to be portable but with a little help from NASA (an organization known for moving large heavy objects), they figured out a way to wheel the wall to that "closet" whenever it would be in the way of a production.

The wall lights continue Wright's design theme of circles — both in the niches and the light globes themselves.

My guide told me that Mrs. Wright was actually the person who chose the green accent color for the recess for the lights — a bold choice that works well.

Here is a panoramic image of what it looks like to be the star performer standing on the middle of the stage looking out into the audience. Since I do not have a performing talent, this is as close as I will ever get to that feeling. You might note my tour guide standing at the edge of the stage to the right — she was quite good and allowed me all the access and photos I wanted.

Photography note: this image actually consists of five shots — handheld (no tripod) and stitched together in Photoshop. It turned out quite well considering the challenges.

Here we see backstage to the left. Not much to get excited about — but it is something that people who attend the performances do not get to see. I always enjoy seeing and photographing behind the scenes.

Behind the stage are the dressing rooms. This one is larger so it can be shared by the chorus or other group performers. I did see a dressing room reserved for a star and surprisingly, it was nothing to write home about — and so small that you would need a fish-eye lens to photograph it.

I did find it interesting that they mixed fluorescent and incandescent light fixtures in an area where performers would be applying their makeup. The former tend to produce a greenish cast and the latter an amber cast — a nightmare for photographers and I would have thought the same for performers. Perhaps the fact that green and red are complementary colors make it work out somehow.

In the hallway at the second level we find additional artwork adorning the walls.

Even more in a refreshment area.

On the top level, we find another of the globes and copper colored tubing that decorate the "arms" that serve as the pedestrian walkway outside.

This upper level also has a nice veranda where one can see the surrounding Tempe residential area.

We re-entered the auditorium at the top level and I walked to the center to capture this shot. By the way, the barrier at the front of this balcony is quite low and no longer allowed by OSHA although Gammage has grandfathered permission to retain it. Any remodeling in this area would require a safer alternative. Suggestion: anyone who suffers from Acrophobia should probably select seats in the second row or even farther back.

Ending my tour, I asked about the building nearby ASU Gammage that has similar architectural features. My guide told me that it is the ASU Music Building and was, in fact, designed by by Wesley Peters, who was Wright’s son-in-law. Music students who attend classes inside refer to it as the “birthday cake building.” It also houses a music theater, music library museum, music research facility, concert hall, recital halls and a hand-carved 1,800-pipe organ.

I hope you have enjoyed this multi-week venture into the world and works of Frank Lloyd Wright. Next week, something new.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com