yesterday’s show at oberlin’s frank lloyd wright house was incredible! we had a big turnout and had a great time. I’m still amazed at how many people showed up.
I’ve been working on this continuously for a straight week…it’s a wonderful feeling to see hard work pay off. I’m relatively satisfied with the selection and it’s a relief to finally be done. this next week I’m just doing some video projects and small editorial stuff, and then graduating. weird feeling.
The Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College will offer FREE admission to the Weltzheimer/Johnson House on Sunday, May 19 (from 12pm to 5pm), as part of the Association of Art Museum Directors’ (AAMD) Art Museum Day, coinciding with International Museum Day and Weekend on Saturday, May 18, 2013. Last year, more than 120 other AAMD member museums across North America participated in Art Museum Day.
For this special weekend, the AMAM has also teamed up with the Oberlin Public Library to present a related talk. Cheryl Kuonen, director of the Wickliffe Public Library, will be presenting a talk on Frank Lloyd Wright’s art and architecture at the Oberlin Public Library Sunday at 1pm. This talk promises to enrich the experience of visiting one of the few Wright structures open to the public in Ohio.
“Art museums bring communities together and engage people of every background in the shared exploration of human expression across time and cultures,” said Chris Anagnos, Executive Director of the Association of Art Museum Directors. “AAMD is so pleased that the Allen Memorial Art Museum is joining us in celebrating Art Museum Day and is encouraging everyone in Oberlin and northeast Ohio to participate and share their experiences in a public forum.”
Art Museum Day emphasizes the essential role that art museums play in their communities, highlights the value of the visual arts in society, and provides new opportunities for audiences to participate in the wide-ranging programs offered by AAMD member museums. These member institutions—located across the United States, Canada, and Mexico—include regional museums as well as large international museums. International Museum Day is organized annually around the world by the International Council of Museums (ICOM). AAMD’s Art Museum Day is an opportunity to focus attention on the role of art museums in North America, as part of ICOM’s global celebration.
A comprehensive list of participating AAMD member art museums can be found on the AAMD website here. Note that while AAMD’s Art Museum Day and ICOM’s International Museum Day are formally held each year on May 18, some institutions shift their celebrations to adjacent dates.
For more information on the lecture or visiting the Weltzheimer/Johnson House, located at 534 Morgan Street in Oberlin, please contact the AMAM Education Department at (440) 775-8671, or email jtrimmer [at ] oberlin.edu.
Many a visitor to the Weltzheimer/Johnson House asks about the star-patterned brick that forms part of the hearth in the master bedroom fireplace. Part of the answer is found in the AMAM Bulletin “Frank Lloyd Wright at Oberlin.” When interviewed for this publication, Ted Bower, the Wright apprentice assigned to the project in 1948, said, “Charley W. had some glazed brick he wanted to use in the house.” This idea initially offended Wright; Bower told Wright “the Weltzheimers would much rather have the house as you want than use the brick.” A compromise was struck and the brick was used in the bedroom fireplace hearth, not the big living room fireplace.
The decorative brick in question is familiarly known as “star brick” and was made in Charles Weltzheimer’s hometown of Nelsonville, OH. The Nelsonville Brick Company operated between 1880 and 1937 producing several varieties of glazed paving bricks. The distinctive star-design bricks were the original road covering for Nelsonville (now covered by asphalt) and still line the sidewalks throughout Nelsonville’s historic district. Remnants of the company’s beehive kilns can still be visited at Nelsonville’s Brick Kiln Park.
These extra-large salt-glazed “star bricks” were sold far and wide and may still be found in places such as Niagara Falls, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and Chicago, IL. An observant recent visitor to the Weltzheimer/Johnson House shared digital pictures of the same star bricks that were spotted in the sidewalk in front of Greenmount Cemetery, in Springfield, OH – just across the street from the Westcott House, another Frank Lloyd Wright-designed property.
In 2011, an E-Bay seller advertised the availability of over 520 star bricks that had been used in sidewalks in Elwood, IN. Smaller lots are routinely advertised for sale on E-Bay.
Come see the star bricks at the W/J House this Sunday – the last “open house” date of the season. We will be open from 12pm until 5pm, with presentations beginning on the hour. The house will then close for the winter, and will reopen on Sunday, April 7, 2013.
Summer Field Trip! As a “thank you” for the hard work they’ve done throughout this summer, the AMAM arranged a trip last week to two nearby Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes, the iconic Fallingwater, and Usonian-style Kentuck Knob, for some of our summer assistants.
Going on the trip were Education department assistants Briggin Scharf (OC ‘12) and Nico Alonso (OC ‘13), who managed and gave tours at Oberlin’s own Weltzheimer/Johnson House this entire summer, and Curatorial assistants Hanna Exel (OC ‘12) and Thomas Huston (OC ‘13), along with Curator of Education Jason Trimmer, all experienced these fine examples of two different parts of Wright’s long and varied career.
If you are in the greater Pittsburgh area, it is well worth your time to visit both locations!
Oberlin College’s Weltzheimer/Johnson House, a 1948 Usonian home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, holds open house hours once again this Sunday from 12pm until 5pm. The house is open on the first and third Sunday of each month, from April through November. If you are driving into town, you use this address for your GPS: 534 Morgan Street, Oberlin, OH 44074. Hope to see you there!
A Dinner Party at the Frank Lloyd Wright House
Guest blog by Nico Alonso (OC ‘13) (including recipes!)
During commencement week this past May, celebrating Oberlin College’s graduating class of 2012, I was one of four lucky AMAM docents chosen to stay at the college’s very own Frank Lloyd Wright designed Weltzheimer/Johnson house. To apply, the AMAM docents were asked to submit proposals suggesting possible activities that would incorporate the history and legacy of the house for the upcoming commencement week. After much deliberation our Curator of Education, Jason Trimmer, put together a lovely group consisting of Lucy Smith (Rising Senior), Eli Wright (Rising Junior), Dessane Cassell (Rising Junior) and myself (Rising Senior).
As previously mentioned and highly anticipated prior to the announcement of the FLW live-in docents, we ended up throwing a themed event. Guests were to attend in formal 50’s attire and those improperly dressed were to be sent out back and used as human croquet wickets. Unfortunately, all guests arrived in style.
Eli (a.k.a our in-house personal chef) drafted up a wildly complex and conceptual (as would be expected of Eli) New American-style 1950’s gourmet dinner. The final menu looked roughly like this:
- spicy Asian noodle salad with jicama
- gravlax on toast points with capers zested lemon and red onion
- gazpacho sorbet with apple cinnamon aspic
- veal and lamb meatloaf with mushroom and brandy reduction
- spring salad
- vanilla & brandy upside-down cake
Quite the oasis in the desert for us students during the commencement week money/food/housing drought.
It was quite a success! The main living space accommodated our guests nicely by providing subtle and welcoming traffic flow from the inside to the outside. The original built-in furniture along with (the infamous) Ellen Johnson’s funky 60’s couches were re-arranged with ease transforming the space from a dining room to a lounging space and finally into a dance floor.
While some may refer to the obscure “totalitarian” elements of Wright’s Usonian designs, our little Oberlin house carried with it no such sentiments that night. The space was completely enlivened by the energy of good friends, food and laughter. For any docents (or future docents) who may be tuning in, you should absolutely apply for this commencement position! Definitely one of the top five highlights of my Oberlin College experience.
If you, your best friend, your uncle, your ma and pop, your g’ma/pa, or your precocious younger sibling are feeling particularly adventurous, would like to dazzle others with your New American gourmet food knowledge/ preparatory skills, and have a sizable chunk of free time, I have included a few of Eli’s recipes. Sure to impress.
Gravlax on Toast Points:
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed (largish pieces)
1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed (optional)
1/2 to 1 cup dill, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 pound piece of very fresh salmon
mix sugar, salt, peppercorns and juniper berries. Rub onto salmon (both sides). Place in ziplock bag. Spread dill on both sides of salmon. At this point you can add a dash of vodka or aquavit (more authentic), both are optional. Seal bag tightly. Place flat in a container or on a rimmed plate (so leakage, if there is any, can be contained). Not totally necessary, but good especially if done for a shorter amount of time, place a weight on top of salmon. Refrigerate for 3 days (or a couple more).
To serve: rinse salmon to remove all debris. Slice very thinly on an angle.
Make toast points
Serve with small dab of cream cheese with capers and zested onion/lemon
Gazpacho Sorbet with Apple Aspic
For apple aspic:
1 cup clear (filtered) apple juice
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from one 1/4-oz envelope)
For gazpacho sorbet:
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from one 1/4-oz envelope)
1 tablespoon hot water
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lb ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
1/2 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped sweet onion such as Vidalia
1 (1 1/2-inch) piece Kirby cucumber, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar (preferably “reserva”)
1 tablespoon orujo (Spanish clear brandy), grappa, or aquavit
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Andalusian hojiblanca)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Garnish: fresh mint leaves
Special equipment: an ice cream maker
Bring apple juice to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish and chill, uncovered, until firm, about 2 hours.
Make gazpacho sorbet:
Soften gelatin in hot water 1 minute.
Mash garlic to a paste with salt using a mortar and pestle (or mince and mash with a large knife). Blend garlic paste, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, cucumber, vinegar, orujo, and sugar in a food processor until as smooth as possible. Add oil and gelatin mixture with motor running, then force purée through a sieve into a bowl, pressing firmly on solids. Discard solids.
Chill until cold, about 1 hour, then freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer sorbet to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.
Reduce balsamic vinegar:
Boil vinegar in a small nonreactive saucepan until syrupy, 1 to 2 minutes, then cool completely.
Cut aspic into small cubes and divide among 4 plates. Drizzle aspic with balsamic vinegar, then top with a scoop (about 1/4 cup) of sorbet.
Asian Noodle Salad
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
tabasco or hot chile oil to taste
1 pound linguine
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 to 2 scallions, minced
red and/or yellow bell peppers
pea pods (blanch slightly first)
jicama or daikon radish
nappa cabbage leaves
cilantro sprigs for garnish
Prepare dressing: place garlic, ginger, sugar and salt in a small food processor. Process until almost smooth.
Add soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, pulse to combine. Add hot sauce.
With processor running, drizzle in oil to emulsify. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Cook pasta, rinse to cool. Add minced cilantro and scallions. Add dressing. Place in container. Can be made three days ahead (so dressing can really absorb into noodles).
Place noodle in a large serving bowl lined with nappa cabbage leaves. Garnish with julienned vegetables and cilantro sprigs.
Veal and Lamb Meat Loaf with Red Bell Pepper and Spinach
1 large red bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 6-ounce package fresh baby spinach
2 cups chopped onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from French bread
2 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
6 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon prepared steak sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground lamb
Char red bell pepper over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Wrap in paper bag and let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed and slice pepper into 1/2-inch-wide strips.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and toss until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer spinach to small bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, then onions and garlic; sauté until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to large bowl. Stir breadcrumbs, eggs, basil, ketchup, thyme, mustard, steak sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper into onion mixture. Mix in veal/lamb.
Place half of veal mixture in 9 x 5 x 3-inch metal loaf pan. Using back of spoon, make 1-inch-wide, 1/2-inch-deep canal lengthwise down middle of loaf. Lay half of red bell pepper strips in canal. Layer with spinach and remaining bell peppers. Fill pan with remaining veal mixture, pressing firmly.
Bake meat loaf until brown on top and thermometer inserted into center registers 160°F, about 50 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Cut into 8 slices and serve.
Whoa! Today, we learned that not only does Lego have this cool program where people can submit projects for product concepts, we also discovered that an enterprising Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiast has submitted a design for our very own Weltzheimer/Johnson House!
Check it out and help support this great idea - they only need 10,000 supporters until Lego puts it into production!
And, if you want to compare the Lego model to the original, the Weltzheimer/Johnson House will be open tomorrow (Sunday, July 15) from 12pm to 5pm. It’s open the first and third Sunday of each month through November.
Come visit the Weltzheimer/Johnson House this Sunday.
Because Frank says so.
OC students get in free.
Edward Steichen (American, 1879–1973)
Frank Lloyd Wright, 1923–1938
Gelatin silver print
Bequest of Edward Steichen by direction of Joanna T. Steichen and the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House
The Weltzheimer/Johnson House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, will be open on Sunday, October 2, from 12pm until 5pm. Open houses are held on the first and third Sundays of the month from April through November. Admission is free to Oberlin College students! People come from all over the country and around the world to visit this fine example of Wright’s Usonian style housing.
Presented here are four classic views of the house over the years.
Happy Birthday, Frank!
Rachel Luczkowski (OC ’12), is currently working as the Summer Education Intern at the AMAM. Along with two other students, Rachel stayed at the Weltzheimer/Johnson House during Commencement Week. This blog is her response to the experience.
“It’s five in the morning when light starts streaming into my room. I stretch and get up to face my enormous windows. I’d shut the blinds or curtains but there aren’t any to shut. Such are the pains of staying in a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright!
Oberlin is a small town with a wide range of architecture including the Weltzheimer/Johnson house, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. When I began docenting at this home I had very little knowledge of Wright or his work. I was handed a folder with some basic facts and encouraged to attend other docent talks. I learned a great deal from these talks but I learned even more from my time spent exploring the house itself—I find something new nearly every time I step foot into the space.
Due to upgrades made in the mid-1960s, the kitchen of the W/J house is its least original part, yet traces of Wright and his vision can be found here too. Wright had a very long career and would have witnessed the very beginnings of the nuclear family. Families no longer had servants preparing meals. Instead this role was delegated to the mother of the home. Kitchens (or “workspaces,” as Wright preferred to call them) had previously been designed to accommodate servants who were not to be seen during the preparation of the meal and now had to be designed to accommodate the mothers who ran the kitchen single-handed. Wright recognized this change and wanted to include an open workspace in his design for the home; Mrs. Weltzheimer, however, requested a more private kitchen. A unique compromise was developed by Wright: instead of a completely open or closed space, the house now has a series of brick pillars which serve to separate the kitchen from the living space, but not entirely.
A dialogue or exchange between the family could take place in this space, but Mrs. Weltzheimer also had something of a privacy screen. Both the architect and the client’s needs were met with this simple design.
Another unique feature of the house is the dentil work along its outer edges. Wright experimented with many geometric shapes in his homes and buildings, but there is an undeniable emphasis placed on shapes with horizontal, vertical, and angular properties. The dentil work of the W/J house, oddly enough, is spherical.
The spheres were sent to the home with specific instructions on how to stain and attach them. There is some speculation about these spheres and why exactly Wright, who almost never used round shapes, would have them included in the original design. My favorite theory is that they were meant to mimic apples from an orchard that was never realized. The house early on was referred to as “Shagbark” in some plans, which is the name of a nut tree that bears round nuts, so perhaps the spheres could mimic nuts, too. It should be noted too that during this period of Usonian house designs, Wright’s clients were asking for more specific details and perhaps these spheres are a reflection of a request by the Weltzheimers. Whatever the case, I have found them to be a point of conversation in the house and give some decorative detail to an otherwise simple home.
My stay at the house, as well as my own exploration, as part of the docent program have really made Wright, the Weltzheimers, and the house come alive for me. While I could have taken away this information from the folder I was handed on the first day, I think it has been much more rewarding to make these discoveries through my own observations and I will continue to do so this summer.
Having stayed in the house for a week now though, I think I might keep my discoveries to daytime docent sessions, because I value my sleep a bit more than Wright’s windows do.”