Monday, November 21, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright House Monumental Miniatures Exhibit

The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park, Missouri reached out to the membership of the Souvenir Building Collector’s Society months ago requesting souvenir buildings for their planned exhibit celebrating Mr. Wright's 144th birthday. Many SBCS members stepped forward to help fulfill their request and loaned the house many building replicas. The exhibit, which opened in June and will go till November 28, 2010, received some media attention. SBCS members Joe Kopitz, Elizabeth Lawson and Pat Smith visited the FLW house in October. It sounded like a wonderful trip, filled with events to make it a miniature convention, and Joe kindly wrote highlights to share with everyone. I’ll publish a few installments of what the three did over the next few days.

According to The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park, the exhibit called, Monumental Miniatures, “brings to St. Louis more than 150 miniature buildings from private collections around the country. Miniature buildings have been produced for the past two centuries, many as souvenirs that evoke memories of important architectural sites. This unique exhibit features architectural styles from all over the world from ancient times to the present day. Ancient temples, pagodas, mosques, pyramids, cathedrals and churches, skyscrapers, houses and historic sites are on display. Many of the buildings are famous landmarks or buildings of note by celebrated architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright. The works are made of a wide variety of materials including cast iron and various metals, ceramic, plastic, wood, rubber, and even sand. Most lenders to the exhibit are members of the Souvenir Buildings Collectors Society and are avid collectors of architectural miniatures from all over the world.”

Joe Writes:
“A little background about this event. Joanne Kohn, the president of the board of theThe Frank Lloyd Wright House House, had come up with the idea of displaying Monumental Miniatures within the FLW house to place Frank Lloyd Wright in the context of the history of architecture. She had come upon miniature collecting in an article in the Wall Street Journal. She shared this idea with Laura Meyers, the Executive Director and Peter Shank, the FLW House curator and board member who worked to make this incredible event happen. Joanne, Laura and Peter made numerous trips to visit collections of SBCS members. When they visited the New York metropolitan region in April, Elizabeth Lawson and I decided to display our selections at the Brooklyn home of one of SBCS founding members, Patricia Smith. Pat had graciously allowed us to set up in her dining room and provided terrific refreshments. She had not anticipated showing her own (wonderful) collection; Pat is in the process of downsizing her souvenir building collection. She still has an incredibility diverse collection of little buildings that she has amassed over many years. But when the St. Louis threesome asked about seeing her collection, she led them to her 3rd floor. They were so impressed with what they saw, they asked if she would be willing to contribute some of her little buildings as well. Of course Pat said yes. The group from the FLW House had made many similar stops at numerous collectors’ homes in several States. Many members of the Souvenir Building Collector’s Society stepped up to the challenge of filling the FLW House with such an incredibly diverse mixture of miniature buildings that truly did “place Mr. Wright in the context of the history of architecture.” The three of us, Pat, Elizabeth and I, had originally thought we would visit the collection during its run. But as the summer came and went, we realized it was now or never. So in September, we made plans to visit during the weekend of October 21st. The hotel in St. Louis and rental car reservations in place, we were all set. Pat and I arrived in St. Louis around noon on Friday, checked into the hotel and had lunch. By mid-afternoon, we had arrived at the FLW House. We had a very informative tour and took lots of photos. Truly the house is extraordinary and the Monumental Miniatures exhibit was set up beautifully and added immensely to the significance of the visit, the history of the house and Mr. Wright’s place among architects. The grounds and surrounding area were also extremely peaceful and relaxing. A true oasis. On Saturday morning, during a personal tour of Downtown St. Louis, graciously provided by Laura Meyer, we got a chance to see many wonderful landmarks. We even got a glimpse of “Occupy St. Louis” from the car. Since Pat and Elizabeth had no interest in joining me, I visited the Gateway Arch at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial by myself. I even went up to the top of the arch in their little capsules. After returning to earth, I discovered that many of the original construction guys who worked on building the arch were there to sign posters. This was the first time they had ever gathered for such an event. Not letting such a rare opportunity pass, I bought a couple of posters (at $1 each) and waited in line for them all to sign them. On Saturday night, Joanne Kohn, along with a couple of board members, had us all for a dinner party at Mr. and Mrs. Kohn’s extraordinary mid-century home. The home, its furnishings and setting were all magnificent. They all really made us feel very special. Joanne’s collection of pottery was extraordinary and very exciting for me; I took lots of photos. She prepared my absolutely favorite dish: Chicken Marbella from the Silver Palate Cookbook. I know I shouldn’t tell cooking secrets outside of the kitchen, but it is so yummy. She topped off the evening with homemade pear-ginger pies. What a treat!” Joe Kopitz.

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