Herman Maril Exhibit Brings Family to New York

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Saturday I walked over 100 city blocks in New York City. Fortunately I brought my TCO (Total Contact Orthosis) brace ie clamshell for when I started to feel fatigued. It was also great protection elbowing our way off the train in crowded Penn Station. The occasion was the opening of the Herman Maril exhibition, entitled “Sense of Place” which opened November 5th at the David Findlay Jr. Gallery’s new location at 724 Fifth Avenue, across from Trump Tower and Tiffany’s. It’s beautiful space, larger than the previous gallery as you can see from the photos we took. One of my favorite paintings is “Kitchen” (I hope that’s the correct name or Cape Kitchen). At any rate, it was always one of my mother’s favorites– inspired by the house in Provincetown and I find it very appealing because it is an interior with window. The canvas gives both a view of the lush landscape greenery beyond the window, while the strong colors of the red frying pan and the purple/blue sink draw the eye and mind to thoughts of home, household objects, and intimacy.
Peter and I took a super early train and arrived in the city at 9:00 a.m. After walking up to mid-town to meet up with my cousin Ron, after breakfast we proceeded to walk along to the edge of Central Park to pay a visit to the Whitney Museum. I particularly enjoyed “The Real Surreal” exhbit and the David Smith Sculpture exhibit. After walking back to the hotel for a brief rest and just enough time to change clothes, it was on to the Herman Maril opening.
The exhibit will be up through November 26th and is open six days a week from 10:00-5:30. If you get to New York after the exhibit is down, please take note that the Findlay gallery always has some work available to show to clients if you inquire.
More about our New York adventures in another posting.

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Remembering Louise Rowles

An old family friend, Louise Rowles, died the end of August and her memorial service is this Sunday at the Park School in Brooklandville, Maryland. Long before I knew Louise and her husband Bill as good friends of my parents, Herman and Esta Maril, I knew Louise as Mrs. Rowles, my favorite librarian. As a student at The Park School from age five to age 18, I spent a lot of time at the library. It was a quiet soothing refuge, where adventures could be launched as intriguing books were discovered and read, sometimes sitting right there in the library, or at home after finishing my homework. I went through a lot of books, reading late into the night, and each time I returned to the library, Mrs. Rowles always had plenty of new suggestions.
Her warm soothing voice still sticks in my mind along with her generous open spirit. Louise is someone, who when you talked with her, you always felt she was listening and that she really cared about what you had to say. We spent a lot of time with the Rowles family through the years. I fondly remember the times we shared a Friday night post Thanksgiving dinner and the way Louise made everyone who walked into her home feel welcome. She was always open to trying new things, such as learning to scuba dive, and traveling to far and exotic places. As a young girl imagining what type of person I’d become when I was adult, she was a role model. A mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother who nurtured a large and sprawling family, she also had a career and reached out into the community in multiple ways at a time when not as many women successfully balanced family and career. Louise, in her supportive unassuming way, touched many lives. She will always be a part of mine.

Happy Birthday Herman Maril

My two early children’s books: Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist’s Cat and Runaway Molly Midnight; the Artist’s Cat, gave me the opportunity to work together with my dad.

Today is October 13th, my father Herman Maril’s birthday. He died in 1986, but he is very much a part of my life, every day of my life. His artwork hangs on my walls and most days I’m likely to think about something he told me or something we did together, or something I observed about the way he made art a part of his life.
The youngest of six children, born in Baltimore Maryland on Park Heights Avenue in a row house, my dad told me he originally wanted to be an engineer and design bridges. He always had a strong admiration for the architectural elements of large beams and girders and evidenced in several of his canvases that focus on construction scenes. He couldn’t afford college. The family was poor. His idea of a delicious snack as a child was chicken fat spread on a piece of bread.
A graduate of the Polytechnic High School in Baltimore’s “A Course”, he liked to boast he could have easily been admitted to MIT however he had another stronger interest–painting. At 12 years of age his father registered him for a night class at the Maryland Institute of Art (now known as the the Maryland Institute College of Art ). He lied about his age, to get him into the course. To earn extra money he helped his uncle Herman Becker, a sign painter, paint signs for various Baltimore businesses. This was long ago, before computers when people actually painted signs not only for storefronts but for store hours and clearance sales. Many of his earliest paintings were done on masonite board because it was less expensive than canvas. One of his older sisters gave him money to help pay for paints and brushes. He designed some theatrical sets and programs, taught art and of course kept sketching and painting. A voracious reader and keen observer, he told me that one of the reasons he enjoyed teaching at the University of Maryland, College Park– particularly in the early days, was his opportunity to sit in on classes and interact with the instructors in the English, Drama, Music, and Art departments.
My two early children’s books: Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist’s Cat and Runaway Molly Midnight; the Artist’s Cat, gave me the opportunity to work together with my dad. My inspiration was the desire to somehow share with youngsters how pieces of our everyday life can be the elements that inspire an artist. Happy Birthday Dad.

A Lesson of Determination from My Father

My father, the artist Herman Maril, dislocated his ankle– not only breaking bones, but tearing muscles, tendons, and ligaments when I was a child. It was a traumatic event, requiring the arrival of the Lower Cape Rescue Squad and ambulance, which took him Up Cape to Hyannis and Cape Cod Hospital in the dark of night It was during the early part of summer, just after a lobster feast.
A professor of art at the University of Maryland, College Park, my father’s summers were his own and our family spent our summers on the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown where my dad could devote a large portion of his time to sketching, painting, observing, and interacting with his colleagues. (Provincetown has long been designated as an “artist’s colony” due to its attractiveness to many artists and writers throughout the late 19th, 20th, and now 2lst century.)
Raised an orthodox jew, my dad first discovered lobster on his first date with my mother. She ordered lobster, he ordered steak, and he watched her expertly crack and devour her lobster. Perhaps it was then that he fell in love.
At any rate, lobster was a favorite of my parents and myself. My brother David, however, has never liked lobster comparing lobsters to giant cockroaches. My mother always served him fish on the one or two occasions we’d have a lobster feast during the summer. Lobster has always been an expensive delicacy, so we were always on the lookout for a special sale that might make it more affordable.
I seem to recall that we had at least one guest that night, and that there were a lot of shells. So what did my dad do? He put his foot inside and on top of the metal trashcan to stomp on the trash and make it more compact and then both feet– jumping up and down. The trash can toppled in one direction taking a foot with it while his body fell in the opposite direction. There was a loud cry of pain when the event happened, the drama of the ambulance arrival, and a week’s stay at the hospital. This was back in the 1960s and I don’t think there was the level of surgical intervention with screws and pins that take place now in 2011. He had to keep his foot elevated and then no weight could be placed on his foot and recovery was slow. There was no physical therapy. Eventually my father moved from crutches to a cane.
What sticks in my mind to this day was being told that soft tissues when they are torn can take longer to heal than broken bones. His projected recovery time was six months.
There was a major exhibit, a retrospective of my father’s work at the Baltimore Museum of Art, entitled “The World of Herman Maril” which coincided with the release of a hardbound book which catalogued the show. I remember the large reception that took place in the same year that my father had dislocated his ankle and remember watching him walk across the floor to the podium, perhaps to say a few words. He looked small to me in the wide open space of the Museum hall with its cold stone floors walking slowly and carefully attempting to minimize his limp. I could sense the pain he was feeling, determined to push the strength and endurance of his muscles so that eventually that limp would completely disappear. But I think at the time, he was still wearing an ace bandage for support and his ankle was weak.
Yesterday I was taken grocery shopping and I managed to push my own cart and felt proud of myself, even if I couldn’t carry my own groceries. Today my arms feel tired and sore and I was only pushing a cart! This reminded me of all the soft tissue injuries, the strain to my shoulders, arms, and hands that can take several months to heal. It also reminded me of my father and how eventually he completely eliminated his limp. By the following summer, once again he was taking his long walks at a brisk pace.
I can get it all back, it just takes determination and time.

Jakarta, Indonesia: Virtual Passport Gets a Taste of China and Holland

Indonesia was once a Dutch colony, and Historic Kota neighborhood with its 19th century style Dutch architecture is a major tourist attraction. We walked around the Taman Fatahillah Piaza, meandered into an adjacent museum devoted to arts and crafts (a disappointment) and then took refuge inside the Cafe Batavaia for a much needed break. Located on on side of the square, the Cafe has been kept very much as it must of appeared at the beginning of the 20th century with rich dark wood floor and bara, comfortable seats, drinks with ice….

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The time difference between Annapolis, Maryland, USA and Jakarta, Indonesia is eleven hours. That means that while it is currently 10:15 in the morning in my reality, it is 9:15 in the evening on the Indonesian island of Java. And when Americans go back to Eastern Standard Time in late fall, the time difference will be twelve hours. So while I am deciding what to do with my Sunday, after taking my morning walk and doing some shopping at the downtown Farmers’ Market; my son Justin is winding down his evening and getting ready for Monday morning or is it going to be Monday morning? When we traveled from America’s east coast to the other side of the globe, we crossed the international dateline and lost one day. I left the U.S. from Dulles Airport on a Thursday afternoon, the beginning of July and arrived in Jakarta on Friday night.

The next day, I was awakened at 4:30 a.m. to the sound of Moslem prayers being broadcast on loudspeakers throughout the city. The Moslem faith is the primary religion practiced throughout Indonesia. The only exception is the island of Bali which is mostly Hindu. No, you will not see many women in Burqas or even a predominance of head scarves, but you will hear the sounds of praying being broadcast from mosques both in the city, as well as villages and small towns throughout the day. And in many public places such as airports, rest stops, and restaurants there are prayer rooms with an adjacent station to wash your hands before praying.

On our very first day in Indonesia, we headed to a favorite Chinese restaurant of Justin’s for a late breakfast. Chinese Indonesians are a significant minority in Indonesia, owning many prosperous businesses– not at all limited to the restaurant industry but, there are a lot of Chinese restaurants and Chinese food seems to be a mainstay in the Indonesian diet, albeit it is a modified version to suit the availabilty of ingredients and local tastes. One new dish I tasted that morning was a savory rice porridge, congee, a delicious soup made with a base of chcken. The same porridge is available is a sweet brown sugar/molasses version which I do not find as appealing.

Then we were off to Chinatown in Jakarta to visit the open air market where we saw fish, turtles, fresh herbs, vegetables, and even caged songbirds being sold. There are no such thing as sidewalks in the city. The narrow winding sidestreets, with their strong pungent odors– the mixture of the items being sold combined with the smells of uncollected garbage and people quickly woke up my senses. ( I was, after all, suffering from a certain degree of jet lag). But the sidestreets were much easier to walk on the the major roads with their swiftly moving traffic.

Indonesia was once a Dutch colony, and Historic Kota neighborhood with its 19th century style Dutch architecture is a major tourist attraction. We walked around the Taman Fatahillah Piaza, meandered into an adjacent museum devoted to arts and crafts (a disappointment) and then took refuge inside the Cafe Batavaia for a much needed break. Located on on side of the square, the Cafe has been kept very much as it must of appeared at the beginning of the 20th century with rich dark wooden floors and bars, comfortable seats, drinks with ice plus the addition of a more recent invention–air conditioning. The menu is decided continental, and yes expensive by Indonesian standards but very good. the Dining room is upstairs and an extensive bar is downstairs as well as a place to listen to music (Jazz and torch songs seem to be the choice of the day) and sing karaoke. The wall along the staircase is hung with pictures of celebrities from the past.

Our last stop, once back inside a taxi, were the shipping docks. Many of the large vessels departing from the port of Jakarta are made of wood, built by hand, and are strikingly attractive with their bold colors and handsome shapes. Bags and bags of mix for cement were being loaded up wooden gangplanks. On the other side of the porting area, we saw the more modern ships lined up to transport various container loads of goods, but the wooden ships were more appealing. They brought to my mind some of my dad Herman Maril’s earlier paintings depicting the Baltimore docks. The dock area is not on the list of typical tourist destinations. It is a stop worth adding to your itinerary.