People in Glass Houses

For the first official week of my new life as a freelancer, I decided two things: 1. I'd start blogging again for no real reason besides I missed it. I used to write blog posts and see the post had 30 people and I thought that was maybe the greatest thing ever. I miss just doing stuff, writing just to write. 2. I'd finally go to Philip Johnson's Glass House.

I've been obsessed with the idea of visiting the Glass House for about five years now. I'd passed through New Canaan dozens of times, knowing it, along with a handful of other modernist homes I'd like to see, lived there. I went once, not realizing you needed to buy a ticket in advance, then made plans twice more, only to have them, eh, shatter. (Sorry. I couldn't help myself.)

Even though the temperature hit the low 90s as we walked the grounds, the breezes usually came in at just the right time, making the experience of walking for a directly under the sun, into a house that was floor to ceiling windows, not entirely horrible. I had water. I was fine. Who cares if I sweat? 

The guided tour, which cost fifty dollars, took us around the grounds, starting with the Glass House itself, complete with Mies van der Rohethe-designed furniture, a fireplace, and a view of the entire landscape from all angles. I stood there for a few minutes and tried to imagine living there, and I really couldn't. I felt too vulnerable. Then we moved on and visited the underground painting gallery filled with works by Julian Schnabel, the sculpture gallery complete with a Bruce Nauman sculpture, and other work by Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and more. The part I was most curious about, Johnson's studio, the odd little single-room office and library, was just something we looked at from a distance, the Frank Gehry-inspired Ghost House, a weird little structure that lives up to its name, looking like some forgotten structure on Daphne du Maurier's fictional Manderley.

The whole tour was lovely, I'd suggest it. The guided tour is great for the first time, but I want to explore more the next time I go, so I think I'll try out one of the weekend DIY tours. Yet despite checking another architectural landmark off my list, what may have taken me surprise the most was the reaction I felt looking out from the Glass House, not that far down the little hill, and seeing Robert Indiana's One Through Zero sculpture, and feeling very moved by it – not the reaction I was expecting, to be really honest. Seeing the numbers one through zero, each number representing a part of life, one being birth, zero being death, made me think about how I'm just at three. That, if I'm lucky, I've got a lot of numbers to go. That was a nice little takeaway from the whole experience.