Gary Turner is a designer of glass windows who grew up in the Midwest and learned to appreciate the vision of architect Franck Lloyd Wright.
Turner believes that one of Wright's decorative elements, art glass, has an appeal for the many people restoring old homes and decorating contemporary homes. Several years ago, with Bruce Helm, Turner formed GB Decorative Designs of Alexandria, which makes stained or leaded glass windows, in the spirit of Wright and his first employer, architect Louis Sullivan.
David A. Hanks, author of The Decorative Designs of Frank Llyod Wright (E.P. Sutton, $9.95), says Wright saw buildings as "living organisms in which all (ornament, building, furnishings and site) is unified in an architectural whole."
Wright used art glass for windows, doors, lamps and ceiling fixtures. The windows had designs that were based in nature, such as sumac and cattails -- but they became highly abstract.
Wright's windows before "light screens," surfaces with ornamentation that continued the surface of the wall. Later designs used more plain glass than earlier windows. Wright wanted to be sure that the pattern of the windows did not interfere with the pattern of the world outside.
Turner and Helms have used Wright's designs and incorporated them into windows for customers throughout the Washington area. They have found that Wright's designs will work as panels to hang in front of windows, as double panes for existing windows and as skylights or illuminated panels.
(The Hirshhorn Museum of the Smithsonian Institution has several of Wright's later windows. They resemble the paintings of the French painter Mondrian and are on the lower level of the gallery.)
Turner and Helms have also used Sullivan's intricate floral and vine patterns on wooden screens and wallpapers.
The glass disigners have several warnings for owners of old houses with leaded or stained-glass windows. There are thieves who specialize in stealing windows, especially from houses that are being renovated, Turner and Helms said. The windows are removed and shipped to states such as California, where there is strong interest in old windows.
Unscrupulus antique dealers have approached unsuspecting homeowners, especially the elderly, offering to replace their "oldfashioned" windows with modern ones.They even offer to take away the old windows, reselling them for hundreds of dollars. The homeowner pays for the privilege of losing a valuable part of his or her house. CAPTION: Picture, Bruce Helm and Gary Turner and one of the windows they designed. By Vanessa R. Barnes -- The Washington Post