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Taliesin “Wrighter’s” Workshop Weekend

Guest blog by Harry Dawson, January 5th, 2024
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Participants Touring Taliesin's Guest Bedroom with Collections Coordinator Kyle Dockery

When I saw the opportunity to spend a weekend at Taliesin I signed right up. Not knowing getting in was a stroke of luck, I only knew spending time in that environment would be a special treat. 

600 others were eyeing that same notice in the New York Times that day in March; September were the dates of the actual event. Ten of us got lucky, or were quicker, it was first come first serve. 

I had visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin previously on a tour. Those designs and spaces stuck with me in a breathtaking way. 

Not self-identifying as a writer, I was a bit concerned about being disingenuous. But scrutinizing the materials, I found that “work in progress” was acceptable. Then I remembered I HAD been sort of working on a memoire. After some encouragement (badgering?) from my wife, I got out notebooks from many, many years past to see what was there. 

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Participants writing in the Hillside Drafting Studio

Seems to me that writing is best done with no distractions. At home there is always the kitchen, the dogs, etc. None of that would be at Taliesin, only glorious architectural spaces and beautiful rolling countryside. 

Here’s where if I truly was a writer, I could better describe the experience. We attendees were housed at various places on the estate. Thinking back, I realize the stay was only two nights, and part of three days. Remembering the time there, the feelings are that it went on and on and still go on to this day. 

The structure of the workshop schedule was well thought out; periods of intense study about the craft of writing, always in spaces inside or outside where one’s mind was able to reflect, and soar. 

Some of those in the workshop were academics, you know, with real jobs. Not me. I have spent my entire adult life as a cinematographer, free-lance, only also “employed” in later years at a company with my name on it. 

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Participants listening to a presentation in the Taliesin Living Room

Originally, “way back when” in school I would draw pictures of houses, thinking I might eventually be an architect. That never happened, but thoughts of spaces never ended.  

FLW created spaces no one had ever envisioned before he came along. Seems to me the human brain craves design, at Taliesin that craving is satisfied at every turn. I was impressed to know that young up and coming architects are studying there. Are these designed spaces timeless or are they losing their luster?

To me they speak to my soul, I cannot imagine Taliesin will ever become passe. I encourage the opening up of this estate to more experiences where visitors can revel in Taliesin. 

A day began with breakfast in the visitors’ center, beautifully laid out for the workshop participants. Here we got a look at each other, maybe wondering where are they from, why are they here? Later in the day we heard readings of work in progress from some number of them, and realized, these guys are serious. 

Our leader, teacher, encourager, Geoff Herbach, jumped right in, assuming we were all adults for a reason to be there. Coaxing, never remonstrating, I felt by the end, he had laid himself out there as much or more than any of us. Having spent time at Taliesin he had it coursing through his veins as a rush of creative energy. 

The experience of that weekend will never leave completely; images and feelings are permanent.