PaperCity Magazine

December 2018- Houston

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Bob Bavinger, who lived there, maintained the house, and gave guided tours. As we approached the hidden entrance, which is achieved by walking around the structure, Ed and I agreed that this was the most amazing work of residential architecture we had ever encountered — and we were yet to go inside! The interior of the house was like being in a dream. Totally unexpected. The truly original thing was that there were no conventional rooms. The spiraling three-story space was totally open with pods in place of rooms, suspended from the central mast. The pods were shaped like shallow bowls with soft plush carpeting completely covering them. There was no furniture or beds; one simply sat against the side of the bowl and used a bed roll for sleeping. Each pod had a circular closet, and for privacy, there was a circular curtain around the pod. For safety, there was fabric netting. My favorite story about the house, which Mr. Goff told me on one of my visits, was how it was built and financed. Eugene and Nancy Bavinger, who both taught art at OU, hand-built the house. As the structure began to rise from the ground, there were floods of visitors who were interested in what was going on. The curiosity seekers interrupted the construction so much with their myriad of questions that Eugene built a fence around the site, and Nancy sat at the gate and charged each visitor 50 cents to enter. This fee completely paid for the house! Epilogue At the end of my first weekend with Mr. Goff, Easter 1979, I thanked him and told him that I would use some of his thoughts for my upcoming Frank Lloyd Wright radio program. I also told him that I would like to return and discuss a radio documentary just about him. He told me I was welcome anytime, so I made several more visits between 1980 and 1981, recording some of our talks, but mostly listening to his stories — he never repeated a single anecdote in all the hours I spent with him. He was, simply, a wizard. Unfortunately, Mr. Goff passed away August 4, 1982 before I could complete that project. Although I never worked with Mr. Goff, I call him my mentor because he is the only creative person who completely shared his mind with me during several weekends of all-day discussions about his life, the visual and performing arts, and architecture. His philosophy of the creative process and what makes something artistic has remained with me throughout my life. The following are his own words, transcribed from our recorded conversations (published posthumously in Cite, Spring 1983). Robert Morris: Who were the most influential people in your life? Bruce Goff: The composer Claude Debussy. I learned more from him than any other creative person. I have managed to find some of his writings and have embraced many of his ideas as my own. Another man who helped me a great deal in all this was the artist Erté. I use to buy Harper's Bazaar magazine — not because I was interested in clothes or fashion, but because of the beautiful covers he designed. They were knockouts! In one of Erté's articles in the magazine, he stated that he was against the mode, meaning fashion, because clothing should express the nature of the individual; clothing should not be a matter of fashion. I felt the same. Erté asked me, on the occasion of our meeting in 1980, if I had been accused of being Art Deco. I replied, "Yes, I suppose you have been too." He said it was true, and that it astonished him. Of course, I was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright in my early years. However, I didn't want to carry on his work. Wright asked me if I would come to Taliesin, before he established the fellowship, and become his "right-hand man." I was very busy at the time in Tulsa and was to be a partner in the firm I had apprenticed. I declined the offer then and two other times also. On the third time, I explained: "Mr. Wright, I regard you highly and know people who have worked with you. You are too big a man for me to be close to, and I need to be away from you in order to keep the right perspective. I hope we can continue to be friends." Wright was silent for a long time. Then he put his arms around me and gave me a big hug and said: "Bruce, I wish others knew me like you do." He never asked me to join him again. Does art ever has a universal appeal? Bruce Goff: Anytime we experience a work of art for the first time, the only reason we notice it at all is because it completes a circuit within us and engages our attention. We may not comprehend it at all, but the important thing is that we notice it. It's important to try and refrain from criticizing the work; simply respond to it naturally. In order for a work of art to survive the moment The light-filled front living room of the Durst-Gee House in Houston maintains an intimate relationship with surrounding nature. In the Durst-Gee House, Goff placed sparkling flex-glass on the doorway to the upstairs bathroom, to mimic stained glass. 80

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