Camera Shop Worker Enjoys Wright Stuff

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Baker

Behind the counter of many a downtown store are people with interests and talents who may not be apparent to the average shopper who hurries in and out trying to accomplish errands in a minimum of time.

A case in point is Fritz Michaelis, a retired Northwest Suburban High School District 214 art teacher who works part-time at the Arlington Heights Camera Shop at 115 W. Campbell St.

In addition to his knowledge and skill in both photography and art, Michaelis has an ongoing interest in architecture, specifically that of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Earlier this summer, he completed training at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park and is now a certified interpreter.

"It was rather rigorous training that surveyed Wright's work and why it is unique," Michaelis said. "I am now qualified to conduct walking tours of significant Wright structures on the Forest Avenue Walk, as well as of other architectural styles of the same period, 1889-1909. Interpreters are also expected to enhance their own knowledge through continued study."

Any tourists lucky enough to have Michaelis as their guide will find that he is knowledgeable indeed, since he brought a hefty amount of prior experience into the training with him.

For the last 15 years he has been giving Wright tours on his own, "through the auspices of the District 214 Chicago Studies," he said.

Why such a prolonged interest in this world-famous architect?

"As you get into a person's life and see the body of their work, you begin to grow in understanding and appreciation," Michaelis explained. "I'm still awed by Wright's use of space, color and style. He was an artist who just happened to be an architect. You can't really realize what that is until you walk through one of his buildings and are led on a path of discovery."

Anyone interested in learning more about the tours can call the Wright Center in Oak Park, or stop by the camera shop in downtown Arlington on one of the days when Michaelis is working there.

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