Does Creative Architecture Foster Creativity?

IMG_5058During a Wrightian tour of Arthur Dyson’s homes, Al Struckus (of Bruce Goff’s Struckus House) asked me if my children were more creative having grown up in a home of such creative design.  I answered (on tape) that I didn’t know any different; they’d been born here.  “They’re pretty onery,” Dennis added in agreement. 

They both drew a lot, especially Nico, and they both created “worlds” of their own invention–but I suspect many children do that.  Dani has grown up to be a musician, photographer, actress.  When the Big City (NYC), stress of life, and reasonable plane tickets coincide, she comes home for RiverHouse therapy.

When she comes, the house is full of music.  In a habit from her childhood, when I would give her the choice of housework or playing the piano while I cleaned–and she chose to serenade me, she plays Greg’s Steinway, and the acoustic curve makes her improvisation sound like a concert hall.  Her friend Molly might visit, and they sit on the bench by the window and play guitars and sing like Joni Mitchell.

I painted watercolors of wild roses and fig branches.  I wrote simple poems:

The moon dappled by

Quilted rain-cradle,

Blue heron skates

the frosted crystal orb.

I wrote my Master’s thesis after the children had gone to bed in the Lencioni Residence, exhaustion, inspiration, and the moon shining in the high windows culminating in an other-worldy possession of sorts.  I’d wake up in the morning anxious to see what I had written.  I’ll post an excerpt.

A poet who rented the Lencioni Residence as a newlywed was unusually productive.

David Dominguez wrote:  Here are the two poems that were most inspired by our experience. They originally appeared in Askew literary journal as well as my second collection of poetry The Ghost of Cesar Chavez (C&R Press). –David

Leaving Sanger

At night, my wife and I open the French doors,

slip into bed, and let the maple trees saturate the room.

Once, as the balcony filled with stars,

my beloved told me about her day:

how she saw a vixen and its kits reaching into a fig,

eat until plump, and skitter down a fence post,

and when the troop was safe,

the mother stared at my wife, its pupils warm in the light.

I can’t say, “We won’t miss it here,”

but the ranch will never be ours,

something my tenant heart forgets

when bullfrogs in the swamp begin croaking-

the rise and fall of a song soothing

as crickets grinding their legs under the leaves.

[I love this, especially “my tenant heart” (he and Alma are now homeowners), but I must point out the tree to which the poet refers is a sycamore, not a maple.  David must know (better than I) to avoid the alliteration :).  This next one just sings:

Song for My Beloved

            -The Song of Songs 4:1-2

The melting snow collects in the creek

surrounding the house my wife and I are leaving forever.

Cattails are singing, and the moon

slows its trip around the earth to listen.

I don’t like being sentimental,

but tonight, I can’t help it, so I tell her,

“Your hair is like a flock of goats.”

My wife stretches her limbs on the blanket,

and I know she wants more.

Yerba mansa growing along the water’s edge

blinds the willow looking for a place to root.

“I don’t want to move,” she says.

She asks impossible questions: “Will we be happy?”

I’m watching the current ripple over

pebbles lining the creek bed.

I wish the moon was a handful of bones that

the owl in the oak could read:

two hoots mean “no,” and one hoot means “yes.”

“Tell me about my mouth,” she says, bending her wrist.

“Your teeth are like a flock of ewes.”

I splash water onto her face and look downstream

where broken willow bounces along

the mud-caked bank.

It’s no Dominguez poem, but I wrote lyrics and Greg the music for a piece called “Three Songs for the Kings” during the construction of the RiverHouse. 

RiverSongs2hands(1)RiverSongs2hands(1)IMG_5751

Click on the pdf for the whole song: RiverSongs2hands(1)

Currently, I am tracing the plan presented by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way.  I look forward to the time to bring ideas full circle.

I’ll close tonight’s post with another old (somewhat overdone) poem from Lencioni Residence days.  Always, I have balanced schoolwork and physical work.  I think school work, while rewarding, is draining of creativity, while physical work, also rewarding, feeds it:

Burn Pile after Clearing Brush (circa 1990)

Little beads like fireflies hurry up from the fire;

Ashen flakes cover the newly-cleared earth.

Rich recipe of sweet wet willow burning

Comingles with the morning’s moist mud underfoot.

On buoyant heat, ghost riders climb smoke columns

Animating mistletoe in the overhead ash.

I am clean under dirty workclothes

Despite a snow of ashes in my sweat-tangled hair.

I am cleansed from hard winter work and a task accomplished

Sore hands and strained shoulders feel musical

As the fire warms me through.

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