Saturday, October 30, 2010

An Artist's Soul is Embodied in His Works

For nearly two years, the works of Don Erickson have been in storage, thin pieces of tissue paper on which pencil sketches show the shell of a building, paper napkins marked with felt tip pen, simple structural details with no reference to a building, and original designs dating back to 1951 which show Wright’s influence and Don’s good eyes.

Don was an artist. . .

Don was an architect. . .

Don was well-versed in structural design and engineering. . .

As Richard Erickson, his chief draftsperson tells it, Don’s designs “scared” the builders. It took a special team of engineers, carpenters, masons and bricklayers to build a Don Erickson home or commercial building because Don’s designs were out of the ordinary. . .they tested building concepts…they were architectural feats. This is probably why, when I was a child, my father would take me on Saturdays to the job sites, and why he would spend an hour, or so, with the construction workers going over the plans and explaining how to do things. . .

Don's Drawing of the award-winning Round House
Having worked for Leo Zari, after returning home from Taliesin, Don had spent a few years managing construction sites, while building his architectural business. Richard Erickson also worked for Zari, after coming home from serving his country in the Korean war.

But, back to the works of Don Erickson. . .having myself returned “home” to the prairie state, I had the pleasure of cataloging my father’s works in their entirety. And, the pleasure of negotiating with an international institution who has expressed interest in receiving these works in their entirety as well as preparing an exhibition of the best of these works. My father’s works would be shoulder-to-shoulder with those of the Master, FLW, and of Louis Sullivan, and of Bruce Goff. And, I would receive the benefit of knowing that I had worked to preserve these works for the future. . .thin pieces of paper housed in the right conditions. . .but no monetary benefits would ensue to me. . .

An artist’s works are embodied in their representations. . .and it is through these representations that one can feel the spirit and the soul of the artist who made these works. . .

An artist, like a writer, needs to express him or herself. . .we need an audience. . .for through our expressions we tell the world how we feel. . .and what we’ve learned. . .

It is not easy letting my father’s works go to an institution. . .I have so little of him. . .my story is not unlike that of Wright’s own children…

We children own the works of Don Erickson. . .with half of us wanting to share our most treasured belongings and preserve them for the future. . .and the other half unable to let them go.

Don died on October 24, 2006. . .it is time to honor our father’s memory . . .it is time to unclutch what we hold dear. . .and to let our father express himself through his architectural designs to our own and to future generations. . .

To that end, I have shared a Don Erickson original. . .a sketch. . .oh, so sensitively drawn. . .because, for now, this is all that I can provide. . .

Monday, October 4, 2010

Don Erickson Residence Featured in the Press

Don and Shirley Erickson Wed
About 1 and 1/2 years after Don's residence was built in Barrington, Illinois, a tornado ripped through Lake Zurich and Barrington, and destroyed multiple homes.  Don's home, built with flat roofs more in keeping with the Prairie Style, was one of these homes.

"Tornado Destroys House," Des Plaines Suburban Times, Pg. 1, 1967

Indomitable, Don and his family rebuilt the home, this time, with "pagoda" style roofs that reached for the sky.  Don's second home, built on the foundation of the original home, was added on to, expanding into a nearly 7,000 square foot home of private bedrooms and entertainment rooms where concerts could be played to a small audience.

"Custom Ideas," House & Home, Pg.86-87, features the award winning Seidel home and the Erickson residence.  March 1971.

The fireplace in the living room of Don's residence was featured on the cover of the book, "Book of Fireplaces: How to Build, Decorate and Use Them," 19th edition, R.J. and Marie-Jeanne Lyttle. 1972

"At Home," Suburban edition of the Chicago Tribune, displays Mazur's sculptures hanging through Don's Barrington home. July 12, 1979.

"Just Wright: Erickson's Home Hugs the Earth," Northwest Herald, Sec. E, Page 3, January 13, 2000.

"In the Large Shadow of Frank Lloyd Wright, Former Student Forges his Own Destiny," Blue Prints, November 12, 2001.


The Inverness home that Don designed for his parents, Ebba and Gunnar Erickson in 1951, and which is now for sale, was discussed in the following early publications:

"Items from Inverness," Daily Herald, August 15, 1952.

"How Chicago Lives," Chicago Daily News, Page 49, December 1,1954.

"Items from Inverness," Daily Herald, December 9, 1954.  David and Violet Gustafson purchase the Inverness home from Ebba and Gunnar Erickson.

For an inside view of the architect's residence, please see sidebar to this blog, and look for "Tour the Architect's Home" and "Inside the Architect's Home."  Both the architect's home and the house that he first designed for his parents (Ebba and Gunnar Erickson) are for sale.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Publications - The Works of Don Erickson

Among others, Don Erickson's work has been published in the following magazines and news journals:
  • House & Home
  • House Beautiful
  • House & Garden
  • Better Homes & Gardens
  • Friends of Kebyar
  • ICARA (i.e. Association of Licensed Architects)
  • Playboy Magazine
  • Design Ideas
  • Chicago Tribune
  • Chicago Daily News
  • Chicago Sun Times
  • Daily Herald (Chicago Suburbs)
  • Barrington Courier
  • Des Plaines Suburban Times
Don's house, which he designed, built and lived in since 1964, has been featured in books, magazines, and news journals.

A retrospective of Don's work is available for sale from Kebyar, Journal 69, Issue 20.2 and found via the link posted below:

Kebyar Journal

For a list of publications and reference buildings, please contact me at:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Award Winning Architect - Don Erickson

“Custom-House Winners, AIA Homes for Better Living Awards,” sponsored by the American Institute of Architects in cooperation with House & Home and Life magazines. Award of Merit. The Round House, (Owner - Mayes).  Glenellyn, IL. 1958.  Don Erickson, Architect.

Honorable Mention Industrial Division, Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce Architectural Award, 1959. EMMCO Interior Stairs, 1873 Busse Highway, Des Plaines. Don Erickson, Architect.

Award of Merit, Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce Architectural Award, 1959. Don Erickson, Architect.

Citation of Merit Award, American Institute of Architects, Chicago Chapter and Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry – 1965. Decoral Corporation. Don Erickson, Architect.

“Chicago Tribune,” “Award Winner on a Ravine,” Anna Douglas, June 22, 1968, Distinguished Building Award, Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry, the Chicago Chapter, American Institute of Architects. Martin Leaf Residence, Glencoe, IL. Don Erickson, Architect.

Award for Excellence, Society of American Registered Architects, Residential – Honor, 1968, to Erickson & Stevens, Inc. Residential – Seidel Residence, Park Ridge, Illinois. Don Erickson, Architect.

American Institute of Architects and the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry, 1968 Distinguished Building Award, Martin Leaf Residence, Glencoe, IL, Erickson & Stevens, Inc. Don Erickson, Architect.

Award for Excellence, Society of American Registered Architects, Residential – Honor, 1970, to Erickson & Stevens, Inc. Residential – Seidel Residence, Park Ridge, Illinois. Don Erickson, Architect.

Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce and Industry Architectural Award for Outstanding Achievement – 1977 – First National Bank Building. Don Erickson, Architect.

Design Award, Society of American Registered Architects, National Convention, Architect Don Erickson of Erickson & Stevens, Carson’s Indian Lakes Resort. 1981

Association of Licensed Architects, 2001 Design Award Winners, “Gaple’s Gazebo: Don Erickson, Architect.”

Association of Licensed Architects, 2002, Louis Sullivan Copper Medallion.

Association of Licensed Architects, 2003, Gold Medallion - Lifetime Achievement Awards.