Wright is Right On

“Frank Lloyd Wright’s Samara: A Mid-Century Dream Home”

Catherine D. Anspon
January 07, 2013

A must-see exhibit of the New Year is “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Samara: A Mid-Century Dream Home” at the Arlington Museum of Art. This unexpected gem shines light on one of America’s most iconoclastic and immortal architects vis-à-vis a slice of the Usonian life: an intimate portrait of a house in West Lafayette, Indiana, that is one of the best surviving examples of Wright’s later work. Samara, which dates back to the mid-’50s, is an innovative 2,200-square-foot, cantilevered casa named by Wright after the winged seeds of pine cones from the evergreens that ring the one-acre property — a motif further abstracted throughout the home’s furnishings. Samara mirrors a moment in modernism when a middle-class couple tapped the world-renowned Wright to design their dream residence. In fact, Samara is still owned and meticulously maintained by its original family: Dr. John E. Christian, a 90-something retired Purdue University professor, and his wife, Catherine, who also worked at Purdue back in the day. The exhibition, organized by Scott W. Perkins (curator of the Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma — the only FLW skyscraper ever erected), relays the Samara story through original furniture, archival materials, period photos, video and even architectural fragments. Through February 17 at the Arlington Museum of Art, 201 W. Main St., Arlington, 817.275.4600; arlingtonmuseum.org.