Monday, August 20, 2012

Rochester's Massaro Sculpture Garden and Frank Lloyd Wright's restored Boynton House

a clean crescent and plants gives signs of more to investigate

Driving down Canterbury Road in Rochester you might notice elements that simply do not flow within the traditional register of the neighboring houses.  Located at the corner of Canterbury and Harvard, Massaro Studios and Sculpture gardens allows whimsy and art to blend in a very calm and effective manner.   Whether it is a row of curving bricks and plantings on the parkway planting strip to simple stacked wood traditionally seen in high-brow artist such as Goldsworthy, the assemblage here is fun and allows all to see what can be done with a little sense of adventure.

Vincent Massaro has been doing at it since the early 1990's  and he describes it more as the process of making art in public spaces rather than putting objects for display.  A brief meeting and chat this day revealed your typical neighbor taking care of his yard.  But this is not just any yard.  Enjoy the following images mixing found objects with detritus that create new objects and change in time to be replaced with new.  Rochester has registered his efforts in a Landmark, monument  and memorial website

Hard to grow trees on perimeter walls, not these!  Artificial trees provide perfect effect in otherwise natural garden while providing screen to private garden

Branches from dead cedars create entry totems.  Lath and rebar boulders allude to Glacial landscape of northern New York

Gargoyle lurks inside pergola of twigs and branches

Sitting on perimeter wall this sculpture provides a point of view to those in or out of the garden

Another mesh fashioned bolder helms the prow of this garden

Not far from the Massaro Studios on East Boulevard is this very modern and 104 year old house.  Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) in 1908 this Prairie House is his easternmost success.  Two years ago I first saw it it was shrouded in vegetation and scaffolding starting its renovation.  In an unusual arrangement the Landmark Society purchased the house and sold it to an individual with some architectural covenants protecting the future of the house.  The house has regained its front outdoor terrace that had been enclosed very early on.  It is good to know that this house will remain a residence rather than following the trend of these important architectural houses to become house museums and the such. 

The house, however, has been stripped of its vegetation that was originally designed by FLW that consisted of elms, most of which had died due to Dutch elm Disease.  Regardless, the approach to take and strip away the landscape of Frank Lloyd Wright house is not unusual.  The houses are regarded as some kind of Faberge eggs that must be objectified forgetting context and original intent.  
Library of Congress, Historic American Building Survey Pictures taken during the winter of 1968 by Hans Padelt shows front porch terrace filled in.

Years ago, I worked documenting the landscape of FLW's opus, Fallingwater as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.  Many of the existing trees that had marked the architectural weaving and rhythms that FLW used to articulate the structure had fallen prey to gypsy moth and age.  Rather than replace them to maintain the context the powers that be chose, at that point, to strip away all potential hazards to the house slowly removing some of the aspect of its wooded location.  I commented on a report that at the rate they were protecting the house they would soon be able to call it a prairie house if they did not alter their course of protection.  Needless to say, that comment was not well received, but it may have altered a course that had been followed in regards to the landscape.

The Double Dining South Facing Windows with hundred of Art Glass

The black and white photographs are from the initial documentations by the American Building Survey of the property.  Check it out.  It has an eleven page report that briefly describes conditions of property and landscape records.

1968 Living Room

1968 Carpeted Double Dining room
Landmark Society Photograph showing restored Double Dining Room

Back at my friends house, not far away from those two very different homes another style beckons.  Here a wonderful 1912 house is slowly being restored.  My friends, New Yorkers for NYC have found a dream home in a lovely neighborhood called Upper Monroe.  Being apartment dwellers for most of their adult lives they have taken on vegetable gardening with a great passion.  Their not so small patch next to the old carriage house is producing bumper crops of heirloom tomatoes, zucchini,  strawberries, onions, garlic, cucumbers, eggplants and peppers.  Some of the finest tomatoes we sampled in a great gazpacho.  Here many more tomatoes are bound for bottling for soon the winter snows will reclaim this entire backyard global warming not withstanding.  Happy Gardening.


  1. a real pleasure reading about FLW, falling waters is a favorite spot for me. however, living in Rochester, I drive by Boynton regularly & how wonderful to see our neighbors yard in blog. upper Monroe is just that, UPPER!

  2. Love the FLW review wish I could have been there to see the real thing...your a good deal kinder to Philadelphia now that you left it...Guess a little nostalgia is creeping in eh? ....thanks for the shot of the Transatantic Suite ...v.

  3. I love the FLW pictures, thanks for sharing