Monday, August 20, 2007

Fay Jones

I have my sister to thank for turning me on to Fay Jones. She has lived in Arkansas, on and off for the last 25 years or so. I never thought much about this awesome state until I started to visit my sister and her family. They have taken Stacey and I to many great places.

Two of my favorite places to visit are the chapels Fay Jones has built, both are in rural, wooded areas. One is named Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs. The other, Cooper Chapel in Bella Vista. The great thing is they are open to the public and last time I was there it was free.

Fay Jones died in 2000. He had a very long, distinguished career. He attended the University of Arkansas for two years before becoming a Navy Pilot during WWII. He then earned his Master of Architecture from Rice in 1950. He taught for a few years at the University of Oklahoma, then served as a fellow at Taliesin West under his mentor Frank Lloyd Wright. He returned to the University of Arkansas and spent many years teaching and running a private practice. He designed 135 residences, 15 church’s and chapels. He also designed gardens, fountains and commercial projects.

The chapels we have visited are two of the most incredible places I have ever seen. Jones learned from Wright that using local materials and incorporating the structure with the natural landscape were the most important elements of design. Simplicity is also something they both practiced.

It is easy to see these three elements in each chapel. The materials are wood and glass mostly. The chapels tower towards the sky and come to an apex like the tall trees surrounding them. The transparency of all that glass lets you see straight through and allows the chapels to blend seamlessly with surrounding trees, bushes and natural setting. It is something to behold.

Stacey and I have been fortune enough to have attended a wedding at Thorncrown. A friend Stacey worked with invited us. Approaching the chapel at night, with the light just pouring out was quite a sight. Then sitting there during the wedding and listening to a young lady play Pachelbel’s Cannon on the organ was a religious experience.

It has been way to long since I have visited these beautiful places. I am telling you here and now, before the year is over I am going to go eat at James at the Mill, in Johnson Arkansas, spend the night at the Inn at the Mill and visit both chapels. I an going to visit another chapel my sister has taken us to. I can’t remember as much about this place as far as facts go, but I can see it clearly in my head. It is a stone structure, much different from Mr. Jones chapels. It was built by a man for his wife. I think she ask him to build it for her. I remember it was small and tall and had a organ in the loft. It was also on a beautiful piece of property. I will learn more about the chapel and report again after our visit later in this year.

A year or so ago, I was hired to build a mailbox. Funny thing is, I had been thinking of building one for myself. I wanted to do something in the style of these chapels. So when I was ask to build one, I told my client my ideas and she was all for it. Here is a photo of it.

mailbox Another one of Mr. Jones creations that I want to visit is the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, Mississippi. Click on it and check out another wonderful structure by Mr. Jones. This is the Pinecote Pavilion. I love this mans work and I refer to them as structures because of their airiness and openness. Are these even words? If not they should be, just to be used to describe some of Mr. Jones work.

So this will be a great trip. Three chapels, the Pinecote Pavilion and eating at James at the Mill. I will tell you more about this restaurant and it’s chef/owner Miles James after my next visit. I hope he is still there.

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