Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. Proverbs 22:29
I was struck by the amazing collection of noted architects, sculptors, carvers, builders, patrons and artists recently celebrating the life of Cole Smith. Among the tributes to him that I pondered:
“A connoisseur of joy in life, even in his last weeks (at 92) Cole continued to sketch and meet with artisans and clients.”
“Dedicated to preserving and promoting craftsmanship, he has mastered many crafts and found patrons to underwrite the work of others.”
“He could see the beauty in the details and always strove to ‘get it just right’.”
We talk about craftsmanship and details repeatedly around here, but these words “artisans” “patrons” and “underwriting” make one think more of the Dallas Museum of Art and Dallas Opera that Cole also loved. So it got me thinking about the wide spectrum of building we see in this city – from utilitarian production houses to the classical design and beauty of Old Parkland. Each may have its place, but when is it truly fine building? At what point does architecture and building rise to the level of art?
“Artisan” is defined as a worker who practices a trade or handcraft; or a person or company that produces something in limited quantities often using traditional methods. The original canvas of a master is truly one-of-a-kind, cherished and valuable. The woodcarver or painter is much like an esteemed architect or noted builder whose performances are generally hidden from view until the finished works are displayed. Perhaps building and the arts intersect with the artisans, and with those who celebrate and empower them.
As I heard Betsy Fuqua praise the Dallas Bach Society’s musical offering, and glanced over to Lynn and Jackie Floyd (whose daughter is a violinist for the Dallas Opera), I was also reminded of the musical thread winding through these assembled artisans. While Lynn enjoys classical music as he creates his beautiful custom doors and windows (many designed by Cole), I recently discovered that every one of our craftsmen at Lynn Floyd Architectural Millwork is a musician in their own right. Bach may occasionally be drowned out in the shop by Led Zeppelin or the Beatles, but it is now a standard hiring question for me to unearth budding artisans – “Tell me about your music.”
It is comforting, I hope even in mourning, to witness and recognize the artistry and honor in the craft and the incumbent pursuit of joy in life.
Build to Last
~ Dave Reichert