Here's the short version: 5 days, 3 states, 1200+ miles, 4 gardens including Eden, 4 churches, 4 artists, 3 galleries, 3 Bruce Goff designs, 2 Frank Lloyd Wrights including his only skyscraper, 1 mini art car parade, the world's largest totem pole, the world's largest Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, the world's largest ball of videotape, as well as the World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things. (Whew !!) In all it was a weekend reminiscent of Dorothy's travels - whirlwind, magic, wizardry and lots of "ahhs."
Here's the long version: Thursday started in Tulsa with the soaring Boston Avenue Methodist Church & the very gothic Trinity Episcopal Church. Then we did a walking tour of downtown Art Deco & a drive-by of Tulsa's premiere residences and giant golden roughneck. Mid-afternoon we hit the highway and headed for Foyil and Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park & Fiddle House. In 1937, at the age of 57, Galloway began work on a 90-foot tall, brightly painted rock & concrete tribute to Native Americans. Next door, he built a circular concrete museum to house his 300 hand-carved fiddles. The Park was restored in the 90's by volunteers from the Kansas Grassroots Arts Association. Late afternoon found us in Bartlesville at Frank Lloyd Wright's only skyscraper, now a boutique hotel where we stayed. The Inn at Price Tower has been wonderfully remodeled to embrace Mr. Wright's 19-story office/residential masterpiece. The staff kept the gift shop open late for the shoppers among us. And we all enjoyed a private tour the next morning of the original penthouse offices and the ground floor Price Tower Arts Center.
Friday we backtracked to Sapulpa, OK, and the Frank House by Bruce Goff. Built for the owners
of Frankoma Pottery and now occupied by their daughters, the Frank House incorporates Frankoma
tiles into the design and displays Frankoma pottery in every nook & cranny. On Friday
afternoon, we toured the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Guthrie, OK. "One of the world's
largest Masonic buildings," it is an encyclopedia of architecture with a Roman room, Assyrian
room, Gothic room, Italian Renaissance room, British room, Egyptian room, well you get the
picture. 55 rooms, 12 bathrooms, 7 fireplaces, 3 kitchens, it's enormous. Speaking of
enormous, the next stop was the Marland Mansion in Ponca City, OK. Built for oil millionaire,
U. S. senator & Oklahoma governor E. W. Marland, this 55-room 'Palace on the Prairie'
contains gold-leafed domes, grand ballrooms, muraled ceilings, paneled walls with wood from
England's Royal Forest and ruby-eyed stone owls. And the life of Mr. Marland and his adopted
daughter/2nd wife is so fascinating there's a mini-series and a feature film in the works.
Saturday morning started wet in Wichita, Kansas, but our tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's
Allen-Lambe House was wonderful. An L-shaped house built around a garden and pool, this is one
of the largest and most impressive (and last) of the Wright prairie-style homes. Then we were
off to Dan Beck's sculpture garden. Giant stones gathered from the surrounding countryside
complement this giant of a man. Native plants and wife Chris' sculptures harmonize with Dan's
waterfalls & ponds, seven-sided gazebo ("because most gazebos are 6- or 8-sided"), wooden
arbor based on the Fibonacci sequence and butterfly garden. Dan says he leaves an offering
where he displaces the giant boulders. Along with lots of public art, Wichita possess a new
science center and children's museum. Exploration Place is an architectural gem designed by
Moshe Safdie. Sited on the edge of the Arkansas River across from the downtown, it is a
soaring concrete structure that reflects its use, its site and its materials. Then we were
off to Lucas and the 'granddaddy' of America's grassroots art environments. The Garden of Eden
has been amazing visitors for over 75 years. Built by Samuel P. Dinsmooor, whose spirit as
well as mummified remains linger on the premises, the Garden of Eden reflects his deeply held
religious beliefs and his progressive political views. Nearby is Florence Deeble's rock garden
and house, now owned by the Grassroots Arts Center and currently displaying the
assemblages of Mri Pilar. Down the street is the Grassroots Arts Center, exhibiting artworks
by many of Kansas' most famous outsider artists. The GAC folks hosted a parade of mini-art
cars in our honor as well as a fun dinner with food based on the art we'd seen.
Our last day began with a drive to Kansas City to see Bruce Goff's Nicol House, a landmark to Goff's imagination and architectural flare. Recently restored & enhanced by the current owners, this home features a sunken living room with a circular conversation pool that can be ignited, hidden bathrooms & closets, two levels of living and playing space, and a suspended Sputnik satellite. Then we were off to visit Scott Heffley and his life-long collection of cool stuff in a 3-story 1898 brick home. The gang from Rare Vision & Roadside Revelations, an award-winning television show that documents visionary artists & environments, had Kansas City barbeque waiting for us for a poolside lunch with the world's largest ball of videotape. Too soon we had to say good-bye so we could make one last stop to the home of collector Bill Wenzel to see the assemblages of John Woods. John started making art from items he dug up when Los Angeles' MacArthur Park was drained. His art "puns" had everyone laughing as we headed to the airport and home.
Finally, we'd like to give a Big Texas Thank You to all our friends who helped make this a huge success: Karen, Rosslyn, Mike & Randy & Don & Kelly, Donna, Mark & David, Scott, Cathy & Ray, Dan & Chris, John H., John W., Bill, and last but not least our fearless bus driver Jerry.