PHOENIX – There was a time when my significant other and I spent a lot of time on the trail of Frank Lloyd Wright. We've seen works large and small – landmark and under the radar – by Wisconsin's native son, in Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
Perhaps my favorite has always been his home and studio at Spring Green, called Taliesen. Situated in one of the loveliest natural areas of the state, Taliesen feels a part of the landscape. And that's no accident. Wright liked to bring his works in harmony with nature.
This weekend I finally got to see Taliesen's bookend, Taliesen West, which Wright constructed on a craggy Scottsdale hillside later in his life. Like its namesake, this Taliesen, too, feels like part of its setting.
It's interesting to see Wright in an entirely new context. His work in Wisconsin and Oak Park has a certain feel and context. Seeing how Wright responded to the arid desert valley gives a whole new visual perspective on his continued dedication to what has been called "organic architecture."
Wright used local stone, hauled by his students, to build the structure. In one misstep, he imported California redwood, which has been largely replaced or is decaying and needs replacement.
But like Taliesen in Wisconsin, Taliesen West is so well integrated into its setting that you can only really see it once you've come entirely face to face with it.
Once you do step up to it, you see how he worked to make the most of the breezes, how he hoped to keep the place cool in the desert by building it low to the ground and, in some cases, below it.
There are three tours – one hour, 90 minutes and three hours – and I urge to you devote at least 90 minutes. Time flies and the tour offers much more than than the 60-minute version.
While I was visiting Taliesen West, the Phoenix Art Museum was showing the Milwaukee Art Museum's "Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century" exhibition.
I didn't go, having seen it already here last year, but it helped close Frank Lloyd Wright's Wisconsin-Arizona circle for me.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.