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.





Long Nook Beach Truro After Winter


Climate Change

Swathed in layers of sweaters

beneath jacket and gloves

I tighten my hood covering hat and ears

Wind pushing against my body

I advance to explore

The pristine beach

Bottle green ocean and cliffs of sand.

A straight line is etched in the sand

Its origin a mystery

I seek the creature who drew the line to the sea

And find a small square rock.

Stones and pebbles falling

Urged downwards by the wind

Slipping, tumbling rolling down the dunes.

Zig zags, pressed ovals, triangular marks

Patterns impressed by the weight of the earth

Returning to the sea.

I am amazed by the uniqueness of each individual trail

All temporary, easily erased by a change of breeze or tide

I bear witness in my lifetime

To the change in the silhouette of dunes and shoreline

Shifting sandbars and creation of islands

Loss of homes, cities, cultures and species

And the small wonder of lovely patterns

I witness for a moment, pressed into the sand.

–by Nadja Maril

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Poetry on a Cape Cod Beach

Long Nook Beach in Truro
Long Nook Beach in Truro

Easter weekend on Cape Cod, walking on a windy beach, the sun shining in your face. It can’t get much better than this!

Patterns on the Beach

Shapes that look like fish bones

Pressed into the wet sand

The impressions of undulating waves

A thumbprint of the sea.

I walk along the ocean’s edge

at Long Nook Beach and try not to get my shoes wet.

It’s too cold to take them off.

The wind at the top of the cliffs is strong

Strong enough to lift a parasail glider and suspend him

High above the beach with the tall cliffs at his back.

We admire him and the view he must have

Looking down on the sand bars and rippling water below

Seeing from a distance

the water’s patterns in the sand.

Sand closeupselfie


Truro a Place for Long Walks and Reflection

It was chilly last weekend on Cape Cod but the sky was a brilliant blue, and being a magazine editor I’ve grown to appreciate skies. The photograph above shows a portion of the wetlands adjacent to the Pamet River at low tide.

What I really enjoy about visiting the Lower Cape in the off-season is the quiet. Taking a walk along a trail that threads the edge of the wetlands, all I could hear were the sounds of birds calling back and forth to one another. Combined with the clean air (so different from our region of Maryland where pollution becomes trapped in an extended valley of sorts) I felt relaxed and invigorated. It was a welcome respite after the mad dashes with deadlines.

Not much is open in Provincetown, Truro, or Wellfleet in March but we did find a few places. Ciro and Sals in Provincetown, where I hostessed the summer between high school and college is open on the weekends year-round and still serves wonderful Italian cuisine. And there is a new chef (well actually he has been there two years) at the Bookstore Restaurant in Wellfleet and we had a fine dinner there.

Meanwhile, back here in Annapolis it is planting season as I try to work on the garden this Easter/Passover weekend and celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary. Yes, Peter and I have been married 20 years come the 17th of the month but were married on Good Friday and the first night of Passover so I consider today to be our anniversary.

Now I have an additional blog going, related to Chesapeake Taste magazine with other news, musing and postings. So please, if you subscribe to this blog, check the other one out.

Have a good weekend. And enjoy another photo….

Rainy Summer Morning in Annapolis

It started with raindrops gently kissing my face, early morning rain on a hot summer’s morning. It’s been so hot and sticky here in Maryland, the rain is a welcome relief and as I walked downtown with my husband Peter and dog Grace at 6:30 a.m. today, I thought how much I looked forward to summer rainy days as a child

It started with raindrops gently kissing my face, early morning rain on a hot summer’s morning. It’s been so hot and sticky here in Maryland, the rain is a welcome relief and as I walked downtown with my husband Peter and dog Grace at 6:30 a.m. today, I thought how much I looked forward to summer rainy days as a child because those were the days my mother and I went shopping/adventuring/exploring Up Cape. Our summer home in Provinctown at the tip of Cape Cod in Massachussets had only a radio and record player for entertainment (no CDs, videos, ipods) when it wasn’t a day to spend on the beach so we’d usually start thumbing through the weekly newspapers searching for notices of auctions and estate sales to visit. And if there weren’t any auctions or tag sales we’d go searching out stores and thift shops we’d never visited, hopefully with undiscovered bargains.
This week is “No Sales Tax on Clothing ” week to encourage back-tot-school shopping and as I was thinking of what I might need to buy in the way of clothes, the rain started coming down hard.
“Remember the time we were taking a walk in August when Alex was small,” Peter asks me, “and the rain came down so hard we took shelter at the hospital (when they were still located in Murray Hill).
“Yes,” I rejoin, “And a nurse who felt sorry for us brought out a towel to help us dry off, we were so dripping wet from the downpour?”
I’m starting to regret walking out of the house without a raincoat, hat, or umbrella. I did know the weather forecast was predicting morning rain. Still being damp deels good until I step into the air conditioned coffee shop.
On the walk home I see rivulets of soapy water rushing down the road and pavement and I think of all the pollution that is flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. It’s not advisable to go swimming in the Bay after its rains. All the fertilizer, ground water, and other unsavory items laying on impervious services all are washed into the stormdrains and out into the streams and tributaries.
“Some people will do anything to get a cup of coffee,” a man yells out to us as we pass the Court House on our way back home from downtown. By the this time, I’m starting to feel soaked. The water has collected in my shoes and is sloshing around. My hair, which I had not intended to wash this morning, is wet and clinging to the sides of my face. I start to pick up the pace and wonder how waterproof my watch really is and visualizing how good a hot shower is going to feel. A slash of lightening and crash of thunder causes Grace to whimper and I start to run the rest of the way home. It’s foolish to be out walking in a thunderstorm, I shide myself.
“Doesn’t it feel good to run in the rian?” Peter asks me when we are safely inside the house. “The rain keeps your body cool while you’re burning off energy.”
Yes, exhilerating.