Patricia Maguire, a painter from Ocean Ridge, sits at home in front of a few of her works with her dog Shiloh, a 9-year-old golden retriever. Maguire also has a studio in downtown Delray Beach. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Brian Biggane
Patricia Maguire has paintings hanging in the Cornell Art Museum in Delray Beach, the Boca Raton Museum of Art and homes and galleries throughout the country. But the idea that she has ever painted to be a commercial success is one she outright rejects.
“My feeling is you paint because something compels you to do it,” said Maguire, 64, who lives with her husband, Steve, in Ocean Ridge. “The time you spend painting is so involving and absorbing that you don’t notice the passage of time.
“What I tell people — and I usually get a laugh, even though I don’t mean it that way — is it’s kind of like sex in that you’re so absorbed you don’t know if five minutes have gone by or 40 minutes.
“Most painters I know do it because they want to do it. Whether it sells, or whether it’s going to be successful, is a totally different aspect.”
She has a studio in downtown Delray Beach in which to work, exhibit and teach classes.
Born in Argentina, Maguire spent much of her upbringing in Venezuela and Rio de Janeiro before coming to the Northeast for her education. A resident of Ocean Ridge for two years, she also has a home and studio in the Vail Valley of Colorado.
She enjoys volunteering and serving on the boards of several organizations: Old School Square, Plein Air Palm Beach, which promotes outdoor painting, and In The Pines, which is dedicated to the housing and education of agricultural workers.
“Giving back to my community is my way of showing gratitude for the incredible opportunities I have been given, and it connects me to a variety of like-minded people,” she said. “I also care deeply for our natural environment, especially the health of our ocean. I joined the Ocean Ridge Garden Club when we moved here in order to learn how to care for our dunes and meet my neighbors.
“Nature, education, animals and children are the causes closest to my heart. Painting is how I best express my love for nature and people.”
Q: Where did you grow up and go to school? How do you think that has influenced you?
A: I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My father was born in Germany and left in 1938, when life for the German Jewish population became increasingly difficult.
My mother arrived in Argentina in 1946 from Yugoslavia/Hungary. Only she and my grandmother from her family had survived the war. My mother spoke seven languages fluently, although she never had a chance to finish high school.
Buenos Aires is a very international city and at the time there was a large group of young Europeans starting a new life. We spoke German at home, and of course, my brother and I spoke Spanish with our neighborhood friends. We went to a Swiss German school.
When I was 9, we moved to Venezuela. At 13, I spent one year at a girls boarding school in Massachusetts. And when I was 14, my mother remarried and we moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Moving around, adapting to different countries, speaking several languages had a huge impact in how I view the world. I learned that although food and humor change from country to country, people are basically the same all over the world.
I consider myself a real American: a blend of cultures with a sense that the world is what we make of it.
I met my husband when I was a high school girl in Rio at the American School and Steve came from college to spend summer vacations with his family after his father had been transferred there by U.S. Steel from Pittsburgh. We became friends and started dating when I was 16.
I went to Skidmore College in upstate New York, and although Steve was in Pittsburgh, our romance continued. Here we are now, still together 47 years after we met.
We were transferred to Venezuela by Steve’s work upon graduation, and I had a wonderful job with American Express. Due to my languages, I traveled quite a bit. I was in my 20s, feeling like a hot shot, with my high heels and briefcase, being sent to Tokyo, Singapore, Paris, Madrid and, of course, New York. I painted on the side.
We moved to Florida in 1983. I got my MBA at FAU, while working full-time during the day.
In 1988 our eldest daughter was born, and I wanted to raise our kids. I taught international business at FAU as an adjunct professor for about nine years, as a part-time job while our three children were little.
Q: What advice do you have for a young person seeking a career today?
A: My advice to anyone is the same: Keep your dreams close to your heart and don’t give up. Do your best to play the hand you are dealt with the best attitude. But if you hold on to your dream, and keep trying every chance you get, you will eventually get there.
Q: How did you choose to live in Ocean Ridge?
A: We lived in Delray Beach for 25 years, in a boating community. Our kids grew up on our boat, swimming and going to the beach. But I’ve always had my eye on Ocean Ridge as a little magical, unspoiled corner of South Florida. When it came to downsizing and an opportunity to own a home on the beach came along, we jumped at the chance.
Q: What is your favorite part about living in Ocean Ridge?
A: Our three wonderful children live nearby, and we are proud grandparents. Our kids and grandkids spend part of every weekend swimming and playing on the beach with us. As I said, we are living our dream life!
Q: What book are you reading now?
A: Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. From books I’ve learned about the ways of the world. Books have always been my refuge, my friends. Historical fiction is my favorite genre.
Q: What music do you listen to when you want inspiration? When you want to relax?
A: While I paint, I listen to music. My playlist is varied: light classical music, classic rock, reggae, Spanish guitar, and West African music (which is similar to Brazilian music).
Q: Do you have a favorite quote that inspires your decisions?
A: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness,” by Mark Twain. I’ve lived in different places and found people are people, no matter how rich or poor. We all aspire for the same things for our kids, wanting them to be healthy and happy. When people are isolated, they think they can only relate to others like them. But when they’re exposed to other cultures, they see that’s not the case.
Q: Have you had mentors in your life? Individuals who have inspired your life decisions?
A: My parents and my maternal grandmother were my biggest mentors. I learned from them never to give up, even when your whole world has crashed down and you have to start over with nothing.
From them I also learned that books will teach you everything, even when you can’t go to school.
From my husband I learned about optimism and self-confidence, and from my children I learned humility, unconditional love and self-sacrifice.
Q: If your life were made into a movie, who would play you?
A: My husband says Catherine Zeta-Jones. Because I have dark hair and, like her, have a European background.
Q: Who/what makes you laugh?
A: I laugh a lot at myself. I have a fairly dark sense of humor and a husband with a wonderful sense of humor. I love to laugh at movies. Peter Sellers, all I have to do is to look at his name on the marquee and I start laughing.
Kids and dogs also make me laugh.