I recently attended a portrait unveiling reception, and I found myself in an atmosphere of great admiration for the artist, the subject of the painting (a California vintner), and the assembly of interesting guests. The chemistry that bound this group was the passion that everyone had for their career, their craft, or their calling.
The artist, Maceij Maga, is internationally acclaimed and studied art and architecture before delving into his career in painting some 40 years ago. Oil paint and water color are his tools. Portraiture, landscapes, vintage automobiles, and abstract objects are his subjects. Past commissions — more than 1,400 portraits — include President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Jimmy Stewart, Buzz Aldrin, Ben Crenshaw, and dozens of Dallas residents including five paintings for Dallas businessman Scott Brady.
Maga’s wife told me that he already paints nearly every day for an average of 18 hours per day — yet his passion for painting portraits drives him to take on new clients. Maga captures iconic moments in the lives of his clients. His website characterizes his hyper-real paintings as brimming with life, thrusting the essence of the individual toward the viewer.
The California winemaker, whose portrait was unveiled at this gathering, is a talented and supremely committed young professional. In his early thirties, his age belies his knowledge and craftsmanship. Sam Williamson immigrated to America with his Australian parents, Dawn and Bill Williamson. Their relatively small, family-operated business is located in Dry Creek Valley, north of Sacramento. The passion that this third-generation winemaker brings to his craft is palpable. He fashions a limited production of premium wines through his caring winemaking process. The Williamson story reminds me of Dallas’ Kathryn and Craig Hall and their children carrying on the same family tradition. When Sam describes the complexity of nurturing of each type of grape vine and the wines they produce, it takes me to a place I have never been, but one that I can certainly enjoy.
I am a longtime admirer of Dallas entrepreneur Scott Brady. Our professional careers have intersected over the years as a result of his role as a mechanical engineer and mine as an architect. Due to our passion for our respective disciplines, we have challenged many of the traditional MEP systems that serve the commercial development community. Several years ago, Scott and his wife Dawn met Maceij Maga when Ferrari commissioned him to paint a picture of Brady’s Concours d’Elegance-quality Ferrari Dino, Scott’s other passion. Since that time, Maga has painted portraits of Scott’s other trophy-class cars and portraits of the entire Brady family. It was Scott and Dawn who introduced my wife and me to Maga, and we recently toured his home/studio in a Dallas high-rise. The entire collection of interesting guests and clients was linked to Maga and the Scott and Dawn’s desire to inspire beauty and infuse quality into our surroundings.
Passion can also become an obsession. I overheard my wife telling one of the guests that I, too, frequently lose myself in my career, having worked all night several times last year designing buildings. That concept may sound far-fetched to some observers, but I can assure you that many architects do the same. It is not a generational thing either. I have witnessed millennials working alongside senior professionals with the same passion.
Our design firm, BOKA Powell, recently convened a long-term vision and planning session for our firm. Five generations of team members participated in the process. The outcome is a mission statement that concisely expresses our goal: To fulfill the dreams of our clients, employees, collaborators and our communities. Listen intently. Design creatively. Celebrate life.
When I was studying architecture in college, my mother expressed concern that my health would suffer from my working long hours, including many all-nighters. To what end would I work so long and hard?
The truth is that the passion we have removes the stigma of “work” from our description of what we do. I told my mother that I may live the equivalent of two lifetimes and have the joy of being in a place where we celebrate life in our own way every day.
Don Powell is Principal-in-Charge at BOKA Powell Architects.