Image of Tree of Life pattern Window, c. 1903-1905, on flyer for Frank Lloyd Wright: Windows from the Darwin D. Martin Complex exhibition. Image courtesy of the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives.
Frank Lloyd Wright / Windows from the Darwin D. Martin Complex
On View Saturday, July 31–Sunday, November 28, 1999
Theodore Lownie of Hamilton Houston Lownie Architect, P.C. was guest curator for this exhibition focusing on Frank Lloyd Wright's residential masterpiece, the Darwin D. Martin House Complex in Buffalo, New York. An installation of the spectacular colored art glass windows from the complex revealed the truly innovative spatial concepts regarding that Wright originated, and explored the beauty and genius of his design.
Built 1903-1906, the Darwin D. Martin House Complex is distinguished from Wright's other Prairie Style houses by its size and complexity. Originally the main house was connected to four outlying buildings by a 100-foot pergola and other axial design elements. The harmony and equilibrium of this unique plan were lost after a long period of neglect that led to the destruction of the pergola, conservatory, garage, and servants' quarters, as well as the loss of many of the windows and skylights.
The innovative structure and grounds have undergone extensive renovation (significant early restoration was underway at the time of this exhibition), by the Martin House Restoration Corporation, which co-sponsored the exhibition.
In this exhibition, stained glass windows originally installed in the Martin complex (and that were removed during restoration) or that had been acquired through private collection were hung throughout the Burchfield Penney’s largest gallery in Rockwell Hall to demonstrate the visual axes upon which composition is based, as well as to signify the relationship of the buildings to the natural landscape. The types of stained glass represented included the famed "Tree of Life" and "Wisteria" windows. Importantly, the exhibition presented, for the first time, windows that were original features of the house and that had been acquired for the house at auction.
The exhibition was presented by The Buffalo News and sponsored by WGRZ-TV/Channel 2, and the Pella Window Store, a Division of WESTNY Building Products. It received significant support from the New York State Council on the Arts, M&T Bank, and the Vogt Family Foundation. The project was also funded by grants from the Louis P. Ciminelli Construction Co., Inc; Graham Foundation for the Advanced Studies in Fine Arts; Hamilton Houston Lownie, Architects, P.C.; Hodgson, Russ, Andrews, Woods & Goodyear, LLP; Russer Foods, and the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation. Additional donations were made by the Buffalo Public Schools system, Buffalo State Performing Arts Center, Buffalo/Western New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Eberle-Sciandra, Biff Henrich of Keystone Film Productions, Inc., and the Iroquois Central School District. CANNON sponsored the lecture series. Events included:
- Patrons’ preview reception, July 29
- Members’ reception, July 31
- Special family reception, August 1
- “Family Fun with Architecture and Design,” Aug.15 and Oct. 17
- “Stained Glass in Buffalo” Tour: October 2
- “Recreating a National Landmark: The Restoration of the Darwin D. Martin House,” presented by John Courtin, executive director of the Martin House Restoration Corporation and Ted Lownie, president of Hamilton Houston Lownie, Architects, P.C, and project architect for the restoration of the Martin House, October 6
- “A Re-enactment: The Letters between Darwin D. Martin and Frank Lloyd Wright during the design and construction of the Martin House,” October 13
- “The Fabric of Experience: Inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Houses,” presented by Robert McCarter, chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Florida, Gainesville, October 20
- “Chicago Art & Architecture Tour,” October 21-24
- “Frank Lloyd Wright/Darwin D. Martin: An Architect/Client Relationship,” presented by Jack Quinan, professor of fine arts at the University at Buffalo, October 27
After opening at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, a traveling exhibition version of Frank Lloyd Wright /Windows from the Darwin D. Martin Complex was presented by the National Building Museum, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, , February 17-August 20, 2000; Oregon Historical Society, Portland, Oregon, March 2002; and Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida, September 10-November 9, 2003.