Researching south-side housing discrimination for a graduate history degree at Loyola University, former Dallas graphic designer Mark Richard Smith was taken by Richard Nickel's photographs of Louis Sullivan's architecture.
Smith embarked on his first documentary, Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture, investing a quarter million dollars of his personal savings and suffering a heart attack that he attributes to the stress of the production.
Smith writes: "I saw Sullivan’s struggle to promote an American style of architecture as a profound reaction to the rapidly shifting values of the United States at the turn of the twentieth century: a formerly isolated nation of farmers, craftsmen and maritime traders transforming itself into an international industrial powerhouse.
"Ironically, even as Louis Sullivan’s belief in the important links between nature, individual worth and creativity seemed lost in the cacophonous, anonymous, filthy and exploitive world of the industrial city, he produced works of genius totally in touch with the needs of urban life."
Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture has a preview screening Sunday 3/14 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.
Local go-to cinematographer Pete Biagi shot the film, employing a 50-foot-crane to capture Sullivan's ornamentation at the Auditorium Building, St. Louis's Wainwright Building and Buffalo's Guaranty Building.
It screens at 11:30 AM at the Film Center, 164 N. State. $15 suggested donation.