Herman Maril, Africa, and Imagery

“The Essential Herman Maril” is the title of the art show currently featured at  Acme Fine Art in Boston.  The exhibit of works selected by Gallery owners James Bennette and David Cowan provides the viewer with an opportunity to become acquainted with some of the subject themes important in my father’s life. . His career spanned from the 1930s until his death in 1986. There is the boat, the sea, construction in the city, a garden with clothes line, looking out through a kitchen window, and one of my favorites–a black rotary wall  telephone .  My father painted what he knew and what he saw; selectively reducing and refining figures and shapes to depict on the paper or canvas what he felt to be important.

My dad, who divided his time between Maryland and Cape Cod, did some traveling and he sketched when he traveled. Writers put their notes in a journal.  Herman’s notes took the shapes of trees, coastlines, people, and buildings.  He visited the Southwest, California, Mexico, Spain, Italy, and Portugal, but he never made it to Africa although he had a modest collection of African Art that he prized. In addition  to several masks and  locks from a Chief’s hut, there was a sculpture fetish that was said to have been caked in mud  and  containing a lion’s ear when Herman purchased it.. He admired the simple carved shapes of these treasures, which he displayed in the front hallway and living room of our home at a time when such objects were not particularly fashionable.

As a child in the days when there were only three or four television stations, I’d watch wildlife nature shows with my dad,   mesmerized by the images on the black and white TV. Expansive plains, tall grasses waving in the wind and the close-up of a hungry lion in pursuit of dinner, chasing a fast moving gazelle had us on the edge of our chairs. It was a shared time, just me an my father, and during my recent visit to East Africa I thought of him often, wishing he was with me to see the expansive plains, baoba trees,  lions, zebras, gazelles, giraffes, and wildebeests in person.

When I told my brother David Maril  I was going to Africa, he sent me a photograph of the bird sculpture Dad had painted in the oil painting below, “Artist Contemplating African Bird” now in the collection of  Adirondack Community College, originally acquired by his close friend the poet William Bronk, known to our family as Bill.

Artistw:African Scu;pture

“Artist Contemplating African Bird” oil on canvas by Herman Maril, Collection of Adirondack Community College

David  was hoping I might be able to identify the origin of the sculpture, if I saw something similar.While I saw many large handsome birds during our travels on the Wami river and on our safari excursions overland by jeep inside Ngoronguru Crater and Masai Mara National Reserve, I saw no original pieces of bird sculpture during my visit. Walking in and out of all the tourist shops that line the narrow streets of the Stone Town portion of Zanzibar I mostly encountered the usual wood carvings I suspect are probably mass produced in China. My husband Peter and I found one quality merchant who was selling the older tribal pieces along with fine Middle Eastern jewelry and artifacts– but no bird sculptures.

Our favorite memories from the trip are those moments seeing the animals on the move in their natural environment. Watching hundreds of zebras, wildebeests, and gazelle making their way across the Serengeti Plain in search of fresh grass and sitting in a boat yards away from massive Hippos, hearing their deep sonorous groans as they submerge themselves underwater and reappear,  is an experience of a lifetime. It reminded  me that wildlife, and the variety of animals we grew up visiting at the zoo,  is not something we can take for granted.  It’s important we  try to preserve the earth  and protect our endangered species that include the Black Rhinoceros and Leopard, both of which I had the privilege to see, albeit from a far distance. (This is when field binoculars come in handy).

Nature and the images  we see, whether they are exotic animals  or the shape of flowers that bloom on the tree outside our window, can inspire the artist in all of us. You don’t have to travel half way around the world to see something worthy of inspiration, but some times taking a journey can give us perspective to appreciate what we have when we return home.

 

 

 

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Ice Day Poem by Nadja Maril

Ice4

Ice Day

By Nadja Maril

As soon as I see the sun

I reach for my coat in the closet.

It is time to walk

On this ice day.

Frozen bits melt into drops

Slide down gutters, pipes, trees

Plop on to the cold wet mush we once called snow.

 

I match my steps to my dog’s  wet prints on the asphalt

Keeping her leash firmly taut I choose my path

Carefully inspecting the speckled road and pavement

Remnants of ices to be avoided, clumps of salt

Detours created for the sake of Chloe’s paws.

 

This is a strange time of year

Transition from Winter into Spring

Cold and wet ooze

Sloppy puddles, chilly mush

I think of snow cones so desirable in summer

Now distasteful as the wind blows briskly on my face.

 

The sun’s rays warm  my armor

Heavy jacket, wool cap and padded gloves

Ultimately  arctic blast seeps into my bones

Hastens my return to shelter

Listening to spinning wheels and scraping shovels

I admire the still blue sky from my window.

Less is More

Lately I’ve been using the phrase “less is more” . It applies to so many things from why I put less sugar in my apple pie to why too many chairs in a room make the space look cluttered.

It’s the phrase I use to explain why it’s better to leave open space on a dinner plate if I want to make what’s on the plate important. It’s why it’s better to wear less make-up and less aftershave.

Yes, less is more applies to many situations including size. Does a piece of artwork have to be large to be important? I say no. Many of my favorite paintings are very small oils, little paintings I could put inside a suitcase and take with me when I moved from Maryland to California. Easily they made the cross-country journey more than once.

“Less is More “ is the title of a national juried art exhibit opening next week at the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College in Annapolis.  The work was selected by distinguished juror Domenic Iacono, director of Syracuse University Art Galleries You can see all the items in the exhibit, which will be hanging until June 15th online. The profits from exhibit sales will help fund educational programs.

On Wednesday May 28th there will be an opening reception from 6:30- 9:30. Sip wine, beer or an artini. Listen to the music of the Rob Levitt Duo. Sample gourmet food provided by leading caterers in Greater Annapolis. Be one of the first visitors to the exhibit to make an art purchase. Tickets are $100. https://community.stjohnscollege.edu/lessismore-2014

or call 410-626-2536 to purchase a ticket.

I hope to see you there at the Mitchell Gallery on the evening of May 28th so you can decide for yourself if Less is More.

Coneflower Summer Relief print, collage Size: 8"W x 10"H   By Beth A. Bynum
Coneflower Summer
Relief print, collage
Size: 8″W x 10″H
By Beth A. Bynum
The Big Move oil on canvas Size: 4"W x 6"H  The Big Move oil on canvas Size: 4"W x 6"H  By Ned Axthelm
The Big Move
oil on canvas
Size: 4″W x 6″H
The Big Move
oil on canvas
Size: 4″W x 6″H
By Ned Axthelm

Keeping Alive My Memories of Diane Fien Kelly

Diane BenchThis past weekend we celebrated Diane FIen Kelly’s birthday. She would have been turning 57. So her dear friend Jean Melton lit 57 candles and put them all around her house and threw a big party where we ate, and drank, told stories and jokes, and reconnected with old friends. It was the kind of party that Diane would have liked. I could almost hear her laughing.

Diane plaque

The following day was the dedication of a bench, purchased by our book club in Diane’s honor and memory, positioned on the trail by the USNA stadium trail by her home.  Diane loved to be outside walking on a trail, and her last year on earth she made of point of truly savoring every precious moments, moments that included her two children Brendan and Lauren and her dog Stuart, a rescue from Hurricane Katrina.

Book clubs come in all shapes and sizes, and with a variety of procedures and traditions for choosing books, organizing discussions, and providing food and libations.  While some years Diane was busy with her work, training teachers in the field of special education teaching deaf and blind children, when present at a book club gathering her enthusiasm for our selection (even if she didn’t read the entire book) and for the food being served was always heartfelt.  She was the one who kept asking us to keep a record of the food being served with our selections for a future cookbook. Diane’s big heart and positive approach to just about everything she did was inspiring. She was the kind of person who was always looking out for the “little guy” and the person who when faced with adversity always managed to see the situation in a positive way.

Diane kids

Last week we were asked by her college friends for suggestions of the books which were Diane’s favorites and while initially I thought of her puzzling over Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills , it was Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards which tells the story of the impact of a doctor’s decision to give away his infant daughter at birth because she has Downs Syndrome, that I remember being one of Diane’s favorite books. The doctor in the story assumes his wife will be satisfied raising the daughter’s healthy twin brother and thinking her daughter died at birth, but he’s wrong. Meanwhile his former nurse raises the baby girl as her own in another city and as the years pass memories are not forgotten. That’s all I’m going to say because I certainly do not want to spoil the plot for those who haven’t read the book.

So in closing, if you are walking along the trail around the USNA stadium and want to take a moment to stop and think about your day or listen to the birds and feel the breeze rustle through the trees (There are a few small ones nearby) have a seat. Read the plaque and think of Diane!

Thank you to Eileen Leahy and the Department of Recreation of Park for helping to organize the bench installation.

Diane

Meeting filmmakers at Annapolis Film Festival

Angela Gibbs wrote and directed the short film “The Ties That Bind” shown at the Annapolis Film Festival yesterday in at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. I saw a number of thought provoking films, but what I didn’t anticipate were the opportunities to meet and talk with the film makers, writers, and actors. The presence of phenomenal actress Marla Gibbs  (remember her from the television series The Jeffersons?) took me by surprise. My friend Catherine Davidson texted me afterwards and told me Marla is 81 years old! Hard to believe. Her daughter Angela wrote the script inspired by the true story of her friend Sandra Davis who has an abusive alcoholic mother, but overcame her past and became a successful businesswoman.  Today the festival continues. At noon over at the Bay Theatre. one of the short films showing is a”A Younger Man”. I had the opportunity to interview the screen writer earlier in the year and here is the link to the related article.

Angela Gibbs and Marla Gibbs at Annapolis FIlm Festival
Angela Gibbs and Marla Gibbs at Annapolis FIlm Festival

Movies can be memorable

filmfst

Everyone has a favorite movie and mine is “Groundhog Day.” I’ve watched it at least a half a dozen times, which is fitting since the premise of the film is that if you have the opportunity to do something over and over again, you have the ability to achieve perfection. Or at the very least, a happy ending. It stars one of my favorite actors, Bill Murray, cast an ornery television meteorologist named Phil, who is sent to cover Groundhog’s Day in Punxsutawney Pa. He awakes the following morning only to discover he must relive Groundhog’s Day. As the movie progresses, a very irritable Phil starts to enjoy his fate, as he realizes he can use the knowledge he gains each day to enhance his experience the following day. It reminds me of a play you rehearse again and again until the actors have learned their lines and the technical cast their cues, until magically everything is in sync.

Our world has changed dramatically since “Groundhog Day” was released 20 years ago. Technological advances have made it easier to send photographs, messages, music, and video around the globe in a matter of seconds. Suddenly, with the aid of a device we can hold in the palm of our hand, we are all recording our experiences and sharing them in a variety of ways. The possibilities are endless. And while the captured moments we record may not achieve the polish of a scripted film or documentary, we have the freedom to experiment with little out-of-pocket cost. And if we work at it, again and again, some of us can become good videographers.  We also start developing an appreciation of what it takes to make a professional film.

Here in  Annapolis, Maryland, this weekend, we have the opportunity to meet aspiring and accomplished film producers, directors, and screenwriters from all over the world at the First Annual Annapolis Film Festival, through Sunday March 24th. It’s a chance to learn more about the business and art of making movies, as well as the ability to see and discuss a multitude of films.

Remember that even if you think you don’t have enough time to participate, you could just go for a day or afternoon. In the movie, “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray has the luxury of never running out of time, until he wakes up one morning in bed with news producer Rita (Andie McDowell), with whom he has fallen in love, and time moves forward again.  Before his Groundhog day experience  he was just too rushed to stop and contemplate what it was all about? Sound familiar?

And maybe just maybe the cold weather will dissipate and warmer temperatures will come back and we can feel like its really Spring!

Annapolis High student performance highlight Mardi Gras Gala

Yesterday I blogged about what I was wearing at this year’s Anne Arundel County Arts Council Mardi Gras Gala but I didn’t write about the event itself. The highlight for me was listening to and watching two wonderful renditions of song and dance routines from the musical “Working” which will be performed this spring by students in the performing arts magnet program in collaboration with the theater department. Particularly outstanding was the soloist in “Just a Housewife.”  Part of the money raised by the arts council goes to support educational arts programs in our schools, both public and private, so the entertainment was very appropriate.

Too bad some people couldn’t  stop themselves from talking while the kids were performing. This has happened before, at the Annie Awards no less, honoring local artists for their work and support of the arts. I was sitting in the auditorium at St. John’s College, where the event was taking place behind some very noisy people while a string quartet was performing on stage.
Meanwhile, when we wanted to talk to our dinner companions during dinner, the band for dancing was playing too loud. This has happened at a number of events I’ve attended this past year.  So any event organizers out there take note. During the dinner hour, if there is music it should be “background music”, low and subdued.  I love good music and want to give it my full attention when there is a performance, but sometimes social time should take precedence. Just my humble opinion.
At any rate, kudos to the Arts Council for a great evening with good food and dancing. I hope you made lots of money to support the arts.