Russel Wright designed sophistication

by | Apr 20, 2015

This week, I’m looking forward to attending a lecture on Modernism by writer and critic  Alexandra Lange. Lange contributes to Architect, Domus, Dwell, Medium, Metropolis, New York Magazine, the New Yorker blog, and the New York Times. Her talk“Modernism for the Masses,”  will focus on designers such as  Russel and Mary Wright who shaped tableware into sophisticated works of art. They believed that even the average consumer should have beautiful things for everyday life. Wright’s pitcher gave the public affordable art in common objects. Even though Lange will be talking about the Wright’s china and house wares, I’m more interested in his home and studio, Manitoga, near Garrison, NY. He named his studio sanctuary Manitoga, using an Indian word that means Place of the Great Spirit. Modern architects were keenly aware of the environment and worked to fit buildings into the surrounding  landscape.

In the fall of 2015, I plan to tour the house with a knowledgeable friend who’s a docent at Manitoga. Like the other famous Wright, (FLW), Russel aimed to incorporate the existing environment into his design. Manitoga is carved into “Dragon Rock” and overlooks a pond and a waterfall. The Hudson River Valley is ripe with significant art and landscape design sites. Besides Manitoga, at the top on my must-see list is the Storm King Art Center.  A quick search of the Hudson Valley Heritage  website turns up a rich cluster of American history of art, literature, architecture and landscape design. So much to see, so little time.