June 7, 2007

Daddy Types Salutes Ms. Ruth Smithers Of New Canaan, Connecticut


Neighbors, friends, and acquaintances of the architect Philip Johnson, whose masterpiece, Glass House, has recently opened to the public for tours, reminisce in The New York Times. Among them, "longtime New Canaan resident" Ms. Ruth Smithers, who took her children over to Johnson's in the 1970's:

MS. SMITHERS In the 60s, Mr. Johnson threw a big party for Merce Cunningham. It was at the time of all the massive publicity for Andy Warhol. I think MoMA had just bought the soup can.

I was standing with a double scotch, hoping for the best. It was spring and twilighty. All these people milling around, very glamorous. I said: “Mr. Johnson, look over there. There’s a white-haired man coming in.” I thought it was an old guy. Philip said, “It’s Andy.” Everyone went over to say hello, except me. I didn’t know who he was.

It was John Cage music and Merce Cunningham’s dancers — beautiful dancers. Cage’s music had something to do with doors slamming and whistles going off. Then great balloons — some big and black, some small and red and yellow. It was very strange. I thought to myself: “Here we are in 1967, standing next to a glass house listening to doors slam and whistles going off. This is out of this world.” It was so out of context for suburbia in the 60s. You were talking about car pools and how not to have babies.

We left shortly thereafter. My then-husband thought the whole thing was humbug.

Sounds like they missed The Velvet Underground's gig later that night.

For the Inaugural Glass House Gala Picnic on Saturday, June 23, Merce Cuningham Dance Company will re-create their 1967 performance. Alas, repeat performances by John Cage and The Velvet Underground are not planned.

Behind The Glass Wall [nyt]
Reserve a tour spot or buy Gala Picnic tickets, $500-10,000, Champagne provided, BYO Scotch [philipjohnsonglasshouse.org]

Previous New Canaanisms: Midcentury Family Modernism by Eliot Noyes
image: paul warchol, via metropolismag.com

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