Friday, May 14, 2010

Wright's Two Cents

Last week, stamp collector Roger Gross brought a few interesting pieces of Frank Lloyd Wright ephemera our way:  First Day of Issue cachets (booklet panes) and a First Day of Issue Ceremony program pertaining to the Buffalo release of the 2-cent Frank Lloyd Wright stamp in 1968.

Designed by the Taliesin Fellowship, the stamp features a dignified portrait of Wright (rendered from one of his favorite photos of 1952) in the foreground, and the iconic, expanding spiral of his Guggenheim Museum in the background.  Wright never saw the completion of this controversial, late masterpiece, but the two are forever linked in this tiny work of art. 

Some histories indicate that the collaboration between the Taliesin Fellowship (then under the direction of Olgivanna Wright) and the U.S. Postal Service to issue the stamp was part of a campaign to reconcile the Fellowship and the Federal government after a dispute over back taxes.  The stamp was first issued in Wright's "home town" of Spring Green, Wisconsin in 1966, and re-released nationwide in 1968.

The First Day of Issue ceremony in Buffalo was held at One M&T Plaza, the recently-opened building designed by Minoru Yamasaki (of World Trade Center fame).  Presiding over the unveiling of the new 2-cent Wright stamp were representatives of the Plewacki American Legion Post Stamp Society, Buffalo Postmaster Myron Blakeney and the Hon. John L. O'Marra, the Assistant Postmaster General of the United States.  Text on the back of the ceremony's program puts Wright in the context of his "Buffalo venture," citing the Larkin Administration building as an embodiment of "the imperishable concepts of Frank Lloyd Wright."  The history goes on to position Wright's Buffalo work in a lineage of modern American architecture that includes Sullivan's Guaranty building, and Yamasaki's One M&T tower, another example of the "continuing trend of functional design aimed to serve the client."

Curiously, this history makes no mention of the demolition of the Larkin building.  But then that familiar tune by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer comes to mind:  "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive."

No comments: