Last May, the towering Mayan-style fountain at UC Santa Barbara's Art Museum, designed by Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright's son, was to be demolished for lack of space. "Eric Lloyd Wright, Lloyd's son, called me and said, 'If anybody can save it, you can,' " says Mal Damerst, an L.A. indie record producer and president of the Wrightian Architectural Assn. Trouble was, Damerst, blinded by diabetes, had to "see" the fountain by feel. Fortunately, his sight was partially restored through surgery soon after, and he was able to view the fountain in August for the first time.
Damerst passed out picture postcards of the fountain that read, "I'm broke and I need a place to stay!" He tried to interest director David Lynch, owner of the Lloyd Wright-designed Beverly Johnson house, and producer Joel Silver, who owns Frank Lloyd Wright's Storrer House. Both said no thanks. Then he fired off letters to L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan and the Cultural Affairs Department, the latter of which responded excitedly.
Pending City Council approval, the fountain (now scattered in pieces from L.A. to Santa Barbara) will be placed at the entry to Barnsdall Art Park, below Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House.
"I always knew that on its own, the fountain would find its place and that people would see it." Damerst says. "I just had that faith."