Journey to the Bruno David Gallery in Clayton and experience multi-seasonal colors and more, in the watercolors of Ralph Nagel. “Being There” takes your breath away with beauty – and then returns it to you in energy.

After graduating from Washington University School of Architecture in the early 1970s, Nagel began his career with an architectural firm in St. Louis, soon won an international competition and gained fame as an architect while still in his 20s. He soon opened his own company.

Nagel noticed that other architectural firms often refused projects that were large, expensive and presented complexities. He and his colleagues examined the challenges of these high-risk, multi-million-dollar projects which other firms might reject as impossible to bring to completion. After first asking the what-if questions, Nagel’s group then asked themselves, “Why not?”

In both architecture and in art, Nagel is a hands-on problem-solving leader, shifting seamlessly and quickly between design, economic, political and social dimensions. He has worked on many large civic and historic landmarks, including the re-imagining of a key monument of art history in St. Louis – the Adler and Sullivan Wainwright building, one of the world’s first skyscrapers.

About 15 years ago, Nagel began his plein-air painting. His watercolor landscapes bring the feel of 19th century French Impressionism into the 21st century. His artistic mind is engaged in solving the compositional challenges that arise with changing light, color and air movements, along with unpredictable and often quite challenging physical needs.

Engaging heart and mind, Nagel brings a fresh, innovative spirit to his works – painting in a variety of outdoor locales in countries as diverse as Thailand, Mexico, France and more.

Nagel’s signature way of capturing intuitive feelings with spontaneity results from the speed and certainty of his decision-making process. Heart in balance with mind, and present to the moment, he processes information generated by nature with lightning speed, building doorways in the mind and opening windows in the heart.

Watercolor is a one-pass medium, allowing little fussing or alteration. The vital essence of life lived in the spirit of being there, in the outdoor world, is apparent in Nagel’s watercolors, as well as in his more recent ventures in acrylics.

Though no people are actually shown in these paintings, the pattern of energy in his treatment of space clearly implies their presence, along with the multi-dimensions of design, economics, political and social life that also infused his architectural work.

Experiencing Ralph Nagel gives a sense of being present with a renaissance man, one who sees the best in people and in nature and invites others to do the same. What if, in the dark nights and gloom days of the now, instead of the familiar exhausted response of “whatever,” we allow such refreshing artistic expression to transform us and ask “why not?”

Nagel’s “Being There” is an invitation to surrender to awe and relate to abundance. Be there.