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Arizona Heritage Center, Part 1

A few weeks ago, I took my first visit to the Arizona Heritage Center. I was attracted by a special exhibit on Frank Lloyd Wright and his impact on Arizona. Before I even entered the museum, I encountered the Observation Point with prominent landmarks laid out with this serious-looking sun at the center. Pretty cool.

Based on the description of the Wright exhibit, I expected the Heritage Center to be a couple thousand square feet — but, in fact, it is much larger and more impressive than I imagined.

Through the entrance to the courtyard lies an adjoining green belt — formed when this spot provided city water to the residents of a much smaller Phoenix.

I was curious about this item but the way was blocked so I could not examine it closely. I finally guessed that it was a generator, powered by flowing water. Imagine, flowing water in the desert.

Next to the entrance is this large green boulder — green as in oxidized copper. For those who don't know Arizona used to be known as "The Copper State" because of the abundance of copper ore here.

My curiosity took me to Wikipedia which states, "Copper mining in Arizona has been a major industry since the 19th century. In 2007, Arizona was the leading copper-producing state in the US, producing 750 thousand metric tons of copper, worth a record $5.54 billion. Arizona's copper production was 60% of the total for the United States. Copper mining also produces gold and silver as byproducts. Byproduct molybdenum from copper mining makes Arizona the nation's second-largest producer of that metal. Although copper mineralization was found by the earliest Spanish explorers of Arizona, the territory was remote, and copper could seldom be profitably mined and shipped. Early Spanish, Mexican, and American prospectors searched for gold and silver, and ignored copper. It was not until the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1876 that copper became broadly economic to mine and ship to market."

Back to my original interest, I encountered a small statue standing outside the Wright exhibit which looked like one I saw at Taliesin West. The placard indicates that this Sprite was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Midway Gardens in Chicago. After the gardens were demolished some 15 years later, a few of these statues were salvaged and moved to Taliesin East and Taliesin West.

In 1985, the Arizona Biltmore requested an original Wright design for the entrance to the hotel. New Sprites were molded in concrete matching the Biltmore exterior — four of which still stand on the grounds today.

I thought this was a wonderful into to the exhibit — Frank Lloyd Wright's hat, cane and scarf in the display case with a photo of the architect on the wall beyond the case.

In this display were samples of furniture custom designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The blue chair is the Taliesin West Chair, also called the Origami Chair because it shows a fascination with the structure and geometry of folds.

The red chair and table were also used at Taliesin West for dining. These pieces are actually reproductions.

The lamp was a design used at Taliesin East and is also a reproduction.

I usually don't like to use photographs of photographs but yet I also wanted to share these images — especially since the first two appear to be older prints which I generally find to be very interesting. These are, of course, photos of Taliesin West, similar to some that I have shared in previous editions of LAHP.

More photos of photos — but again with good reason. These are images of the David Wright House — I shared some of mine in the last two issues of LAHP (as well as those in a previous set of issues). The top color image and the two black and white photos appear to be older, perhaps from when the house was new. The bottom color image looks to be newer. I do love the historic photos of places I have been — and especially where I have taken photos of my own.

I can't seem to help myself — another photo of photos — these are the interior of the David Wright House. They appear to be ones that I could have taken if I stood at the exact same spot as the photographer did.

Last for today, is another shot of Wright-designed furniture. The chair with the red seat was designed for and used in the David Wright House. The rug was a design by Wright in collaboration with a young artist, Ling Po. The circles in the rug complement the circular red seat such that the circles appear to float away in three-dimensional space. It was also used in Wright's son's house.

The green chair was made from a Barcalounger which Wright modified to fit the design theme he used in another private residence, the Price House in Paradise Valley, just north of Scottsdale. The house is now being preserved by a foundation but unfortunately, they do not offer tours. But you can take a video tour lead by the late Frank Henry, the Studio Master Emeritus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. If you are interested click here.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

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