Esta Maril

Esta Maril

In two revealing essays,
Esta Maril takes us inside
her life with
Herman and
friends in the
two worlds of
Provincetown
and Baltimore
that influenced
them both.
Stacks Image 2930

Esta Maril
(1921 - 2009)

“These three artists
(Herman Maril,
Milton Avery and
Karl Knaths) were
thoroughly engrossed in a highly personal way of perceiving nature and the world around them...
Material wealth
was not a priority.”


In two revealing essays, Esta Maril takes us inside her life with Herman and friends in the two worlds of Provincetown and Baltimore that influenced them both.

“These three artists (Herman Maril, Milton Avery and Karl Knaths) were thoroughly engrossed in a highly personal way of perceiving nature and the world around them...Material wealth was not a priority.”
Three Friends: Herman Maril, Milton Avery and Karl Knaths

The following essay was written in 2005 to be included in a catalog for an exhibition of paintings by Herman Maril, Milton Avery and Karl Knaths at David Findlay Jr. Fine Arts in New York City.

For several summers in Provincetown my husband, Herman Maril, and I enjoyed encounters with Karl Knaths and Milton Avery. It was in the late 1950s and early 1960s and at the end of each August the artists would make studio visits with each other to view that summer’s work. My husband and I would visit the studios of Avery and Knaths and the two, separately, would visit my husband’s studio.

The large motels and extended super highways on Cape Cod had not been built and the fishing industry was still flourishing. There were plenty of open spaces to view the tides and the changing colors of the bay and sky. Shops, stores and restaurants were sparse. The wooden wharf in the center of town had benches at each end where you could rest at the end of a stroll. At night you could enjoy the clean air and the moon and the stars.

There was also a bus that traveled to Race Point, where the bay and ocean meet. If you wanted to swim at low tide, you could get off at the stop before called, “New Beach” Many artists and psychiatrists met there regularly.

If you lived on Commercial Street, which has the bay across from it, you could enjoy the sand flats at low tide. It was an ever changing landscape, a visual delight for adults and children. There were gulls, horseshoe crabs, sand castles, starfish and sometimes schools of tiny fish being chased by larger prey. The scene was always changing. Driftwood was still plentiful and people collected shells and stones.

In those days, artists in Provincetown were courted by museum curators and collectors and many of these people stayed at the Seascape, an old inn noted by Thoreau when he visited Cape Cod. My husband knew of Milton Avery before he met him in Provincetown. They had exhibited in some of the same group shows held in New York and elsewhere. They were drawn to each other because they shared a love of nature and had chosen special ways to express themselves without being representational artists.

I was privileged at the Avery studio to have the job of moving the paintings that were to be viewed.  Some of these were gouaches and oil on paper and could have been studies for major paintings to later be worked on at his New York studio. Avery enjoyed sitting and discussing the works with my husband. At one point the Averys were renting a waterfront east end apartment which previously had been used by Peter Hunt. Therefore, many of the furnishings had been painted in Hunt’s memorable style and I particularly remember one of the rockers that appeared in several Avery paintings.

I recall Avery as a sensitive observer taking in the beauty of the sand, waters, clouds and people. He was a quiet man with a great sense of humor. His speech, like his images, was to the point. His wife, Sally, was always by his side and believed in him. She had been his student and it was she who verbally fought for him and helped him get the recognition that he rightly deserved. Since I was younger, Sally took me “under her wing.” When we were together at an art opening, she would ask me to sample some of the hoerdevres explaining, “If it has peanut butter in it, I won’t touch it.” She then confided during their lean years they lived on peanut butter sandwiches.

Sally herself was a very talented artist and helped support them with drawing illustrations used by the New York Times in some of their features. She also lectured me about never giving any dealer or gallery an exclusive. This reminded me of my southern grandmother, a victim of the banking failures before regulations, who often warned, “Never put all your eggs in one basket.”

We did visit the Averys once in their New York apartment and kept in touch after he had a heart attack one summer in Provincetown. We respected their privacy and inquired by phone as to how he was getting along. We cherished our memories of our many walks at night when Commercial Street was not so crowded. We also recall evening discussions with small groups that also respected them and where we dined in such unpretentious places as “Tips for Tops” and had lively discussions about art.

Karl Knaths lived on the West End and had a sizable piece of property. He walked early in the morning and was familiar sight in his work pants, blue t-shirt and cap and often with a bucket of clams. Sometimes he was carrying garden tools. The house and grounds were utilized in his paintings as well as the dunes, scrub pines and clam flats. One also could see the images that he used in his interiors of chairs, tables and vases with flowers from his house, Carl’s wife, had studied music and played the piano. She was very shy and kept to herself when people she did not know visited him. We learned later that she had a sister who painted and lived with them but we never met her.

Karl had theories about color, which he had printed out on the brick wall in the area of the home, which he turned into a studio. It is unfortunate that no one photographed the brick wall with his formula. He also used clam shells to hold the colors which served as a pallet on a table near his easel. Unfortunately, after his death a bank handled his estate and bank stamp were put on many works on paper to catalogue them. Unfortunately, no discretion was taken as to where the stamp landed. Many of the works were scarred. Karl was very unpretentious. One story, which characterizes him revealed his disinterest in proper attire for a formal art event. A friend who advised him to dress up to attend this art opening later quoted Karl as saying “I’ll wear a white t-shirt instead of a blue one.”

In like manner, when he walked around his property, he came to a small one-room shed that he was using to store his older paintings. He commented he’d rented it out for a couple of summers and learned the man renting it was an important writer. He added he couldn’t remember his name, but it was the same as one of the states. My husband asked, “Was it Tennessee Williams?” Karl answered, “Oh yes, that’s who it was.”

Later, when he was invited to teach a course at the Phillips Gallery in Washington, my husband would see him there. He traveled without his wife and never visited Baltimore. Karl’s wife never imposed herself on any of the art activities, as far as I know. I learned later that she did walk with him early in the morning. We often met her briefly on visits but she quickly disappeared and seldom was seen when we left. I don’t believe she ever played the piano publicly.

These three artists were thoroughly engrossed in a highly personal way of perceiving nature and the world around them. Duncan Phillips was captivated by the three of them and all are well-represented in the Phillips Collection. Material wealth was not a priority. They were pleased when an exhibit brought them viewers who related to their work. To my knowledge, they were not big drinkers, liked simple work clothes and avoided fancy restaurants.

It was not until much later in my life that I could fully appreciate these chance experiences that are so memorable. I was never to know of what became of some of the creations that Avery and Knaths were working on. For them, the creative process was most important.

I now realize how lucky I was to have been married to an artist whose professional journey enabled me and my children to share in many treasured experiences.
I am also reminded of the memorable line in William Wordsworth’s famous poem about daffodils. In the last part, he reflects that the poet was very pleased. He ends by saying, “The vision flashed upon the inward eye, which is the bliss of solitude.” I am not a poet. Such memories enrich my soul and enable me to share these memories with others.
Three Friends: Herman Maril, Milton Avery and Karl Knaths

The following essay was written in 2005 to be included in a catalog for an exhibition of paintings by Herman Maril, Milton Avery and Karl Knaths at David Findlay Jr. Fine Arts in New York City.

For several summers in Provincetown my husband, Herman Maril, and I enjoyed encounters with Karl Knaths and Milton Avery. It was in the late 1950s and early 1960s and at the end of each August the artists would make studio visits with each other to view that summer’s work. My husband and I would visit the studios of Avery and Knaths and the two, separately, would visit my husband’s studio.

The large motels and extended super highways on Cape Cod had not been built and the fishing industry was still flourishing. There were plenty of open spaces to view the tides and the changing colors of the bay and sky. Shops, stores and restaurants were sparse. The wooden wharf in the center of town had benches at each end where you could rest at the end of a stroll. At night you could enjoy the clean air and the moon and the stars.

There was also a bus that traveled to Race Point, where the bay and ocean meet. If you wanted to swim at low tide, you could get off at the stop before called, “New Beach” Many artists and psychiatrists met there regularly.

If you lived on Commercial Street, which has the bay across from it, you could enjoy the sand flats at low tide. It was an ever changing landscape, a visual delight for adults and children. There were gulls, horseshoe crabs, sand castles, starfish and sometimes schools of tiny fish being chased by larger prey. The scene was always changing. Driftwood was still plentiful and people collected shells and stones.

In those days, artists in Provincetown were courted by museum curators and collectors and many of these people stayed at the Seascape, an old inn noted by Thoreau when he visited Cape Cod. My husband knew of Milton Avery before he met him in Provincetown. They had exhibited in some of the same group shows held in New York and elsewhere. They were drawn to each other because they shared a love of nature and had chosen special ways to express themselves without being representational artists.

I was privileged at the Avery studio to have the job of moving the paintings that were to be viewed.  Some of these were gouaches and oil on paper and could have been studies for major paintings to later be worked on at his New York studio. Avery enjoyed sitting and discussing the works with my husband. At one point the Averys were renting a waterfront east end apartment which previously had been used by Peter Hunt. Therefore, many of the furnishings had been painted in Hunt’s memorable style and I particularly remember one of the rockers that appeared in several Avery paintings.

I recall Avery as a sensitive observer taking in the beauty of the sand, waters, clouds and people. He was a quiet man with a great sense of humor. His speech, like his images, was to the point. His wife, Sally, was always by his side and believed in him. She had been his student and it was she who verbally fought for him and helped him get the recognition that he rightly deserved. Since I was younger, Sally took me “under her wing.” When we were together at an art opening, she would ask me to sample some of the hoerdevres explaining, “If it has peanut butter in it, I won’t touch it.” She then confided during their lean years they lived on peanut butter sandwiches.

Sally herself was a very talented artist and helped support them with drawing illustrations used by the New York Times in some of their features. She also lectured me about never giving any dealer or gallery an exclusive. This reminded me of my southern grandmother, a victim of the banking failures before regulations, who often warned, “Never put all your eggs in one basket.”

We did visit the Averys once in their New York apartment and kept in touch after he had a heart attack one summer in Provincetown. We respected their privacy and inquired by phone as to how he was getting along. We cherished our memories of our many walks at night when Commercial Street was not so crowded. We also recall evening discussions with small groups that also respected them and where we dined in such unpretentious places as “Tips for Tops” and had lively discussions about art.

Karl Knaths lived on the West End and had a sizable piece of property. He walked early in the morning and was familiar sight in his work pants, blue t-shirt and cap and often with a bucket of clams. Sometimes he was carrying garden tools. The house and grounds were utilized in his paintings as well as the dunes, scrub pines and clam flats. One also could see the images that he used in his interiors of chairs, tables and vases with flowers from his house, Carl’s wife, had studied music and played the piano. She was very shy and kept to herself when people she did not know visited him. We learned later that she had a sister who painted and lived with them but we never met her.

Karl had theories about color, which he had printed out on the brick wall in the area of the home, which he turned into a studio. It is unfortunate that no one photographed the brick wall with his formula. He also used clam shells to hold the colors which served as a pallet on a table near his easel. Unfortunately, after his death a bank handled his estate and bank stamp were put on many works on paper to catalogue them. Unfortunately, no discretion was taken as to where the stamp landed. Many of the works were scarred. Karl was very unpretentious. One story, which characterizes him revealed his disinterest in proper attire for a formal art event. A friend who advised him to dress up to attend this art opening later quoted Karl as saying “I’ll wear a white t-shirt instead of a blue one.”

In like manner, when he walked around his property, he came to a small one-room shed that he was using to store his older paintings. He commented he’d rented it out for a couple of summers and learned the man renting it was an important writer. He added he couldn’t remember his name, but it was the same as one of the states. My husband asked, “Was it Tennessee Williams?” Karl answered, “Oh yes, that’s who it was.”

Later, when he was invited to teach a course at the Phillips Gallery in Washington, my husband would see him there. He traveled without his wife and never visited Baltimore. Karl’s wife never imposed herself on any of the art activities, as far as I know. I learned later that she did walk with him early in the morning. We often met her briefly on visits but she quickly disappeared and seldom was seen when we left. I don’t believe she ever played the piano publicly.

These three artists were thoroughly engrossed in a highly personal way of perceiving nature and the world around them. Duncan Phillips was captivated by the three of them and all are well-represented in the Phillips Collection. Material wealth was not a priority. They were pleased when an exhibit brought them viewers who related to their work. To my knowledge, they were not big drinkers, liked simple work clothes and avoided fancy restaurants.

It was not until much later in my life that I could fully appreciate these chance experiences that are so memorable. I was never to know of what became of some of the creations that Avery and Knaths were working on. For them, the creative process was most important.

I now realize how lucky I was to have been married to an artist whose professional journey enabled me and my children to share in many treasured experiences.
I am also reminded of the memorable line in William Wordsworth’s famous poem about daffodils. In the last part, he reflects that the poet was very pleased. He ends by saying, “The vision flashed upon the inward eye, which is the bliss of solitude.” I am not a poet. Such memories enrich my soul and enable me to share these memories with others.
Stacks Image 2980
Esta, 1948
oil on canvas, 30 x 24
Stacks Image 22693

Esta, 1948
oil on canvas, 30 x 24

The Two Worlds of Herman Maril

The following essay was written in 2008 to be included in a catalog for exhibitions of paintings by Herman  Maril at the Provincetown Art Association Museum in Provincetown, Mass.  and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

Provincetown
I first met Herman Maril when I was in high school. One of my art teachers suggested I attend an art school instead of an academic college. She thought if he saw my portfolio he might have some helpful advice. He noted that while I had talent, it might be wise to attend college like my parents wanted. He said “If it is meant to be, it will be.”

I followed his advice. After I received my Bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, I decided to become a social worker and learn more about “life”. The Baltimore Department of Welfare agreed to pay for advanced training as part of one’s employment, with a one-year work commitment upon receiving a Master’s Degree.

Years later, I went back to thank him for his advice. It was the autumn of 1947 at his Baltimore studio at Fellowship House. I explained that I became a clinical social worker and this struck a chord with him. His oldest sister, Mazie, who lived in New York, was a clinical social worker and had been very supportive of his becoming an artist.

We met for dinner and found we had many of the same interests. Our courtship took place in his studio. The room was small and there were no paintings on the walls. I was drawn to the colors on the pallet and a small African sculpture was on the mantle. He had acquired it from one of his dealers, Carl ZeGrosser who had a gallery in Philadelphia and handled prints and small watercolors. Herman explained that he happened to be at the gallery when the crates arrived from Africa. He saw these pieces when they were lifted from the straw in the crates and inquired what it would take to own one. ZeGrosser replied that he had a customer for one of Herman’s water colors and that if he sent him $5.00 a month for a year, he could choose the one he wanted. The one he picked was a “fetish”. It had pieces of the lion buried in the parts of the body. The base had information about where it was discovered and the name of the expedition. He admired the way it was carved, and later he wrote about it. After we married and bought our house in Baltimore, it became a part of our daily visual enjoyment. It had to be secured so that the cats could pose beside it without knocking it over.

I knew that our relationship was serious when he gave me a small painting “Quiet Land”. We married the following June, in 1948, but delayed our honeymoon in Provincetown until August.

Herman had visited Cape Cod with another Baltimore artist in 1934. They went by bus and rented a foreclosed property in Chatham for $10.00 a month. It did not have electricity or water, but served as a studio. The farmer next door let them use his well and take vegetables from his garden. Herman met some of the artists who were summering in Provincetown and was taken with the town’s special charm and light.

Duncan Phillips who was staying at the Chatham Bar Inn heard about the artists working “down the road.” After visiting Herman, Phillips invited him to bring paintings to his home in Washington for consideration for his collection.

On my first Provincetown visit, in 1948, I found Cape Cod Bay was very different from the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The colors, the clouds, quaint fishing boats, dunes and scrub pines were awesome and magical. Herman had heard about a lady who rented rooms. Her husband, MoCo, worked at the Ice House packing fish. This property has since been converted to the Ice House Apartments or Condominiums. The Medeiros family’s white shingle cottage had a small yard with apple trees. We had a bedroom, small sitting area, bathroom and kitchen privileges. Amelia Medeiros had come from Portugal as a young girl. She was a fine seamstress and a good cook. She shared her Portuguese soup and other delicacies. The sheets were washed by hand and hung out to dry in the breeze and warm sun. There is no substitute for sleeping on sheets washed and dried this way.

I was introduced to the “warm and welcoming” Ione and Hudson Walker. Hudson not only collected art, but became the champion of artists’ rights. He had owned a gallery in New York and been active in Artists Equity. He wanted the Provincetown Art Association to do more for the artists and the community. He knew that young artists needed studio space and stipends to live. The Walker cottage was open to artists every afternoon for drinks and conversation. Later, he helped start the Fine Art Works Center to encourage and help young artists and writers, as well as the winter economy of the town. The silversmith Ed Weiner had recently come to town and donated one of his creations “The Dancer” to a benefit for the Art Association. Ione Walker was the lucky winner. Since I was a bride and a newcomer, she spontaneously presented it to me as a welcoming gift. Her generosity and warmth were memorable to many. Raphael and Rebecca Soyer were also memorable for “reaching out” to people. Raphael sketched my portrait unbeknown to me and gave it to me signed, as a way of welcoming me into the artists group. Rebecca had wonderful stories to share about the nursery school where she taught. After I was a widow, the Soyers kept in touch and often included me in their activities.

Over the years, my husband was elected to the board of the Provincetown Art Association. He was known for his fairness. He felt that if you ran an art school in the area, you should not be rejected from the August Art Association exhibit. He felt that if there was a question of what had been submitted, members of the jury should go to the artist’s studio to select another entry rather than ruin that person’s summer and livelihood. Some of the other jury members were not as flexible.

One year, the wife of one of the painters who ran one of the larger art schools was very angry that her husband was rejected. At the opening of the exhibit she stamped on Herman’s foot and quickly walked away. Another year, a student that he sent to study with Hans Hoffman was accepted for the August show and was eager for Herman to view her painting. When we couldn’t find it, we discovered that it was hung on a hinged window. In hot August, the window was thrown open, and the picture was completely hidden from view. On still another occasion, the members of the jury, who favored abstract art, hung the Herman Maril entry in the foyer of the Art Association during the August show because the shapes in the painting were recognizable. Herman was very upset because that year there were outside reviewers had been invited. He felt that they wouldn’t think his work was part of the show. After much bickering, they did move the painting, but he never knew whether it was moved in time for the critics to see it. At present, all works exhibited are treated with respect. Selections are decided by qualified judges outside of the local community and there is more wall space and air conditioning. Professionalism now exists due to the present director, Chris McCarthy, and her staff.

We were also fortunate to get to know Phil Alexander who shared the beauty and the bounty of his flowers and vegetable garden. He taught our children about Cape Cod Bay as well as how to dig for sea worms and clams. He was like a grandfather to our family. We had met Phil when we rented his sister Mary Campbell’s house next door to Mark Rothko and his wife and daughter. All of us enjoyed Kendall Lane Beach where Phil kept his boat, which was used on Sunday fishing outings. The fish caught were shared with his neighbors and friends. The Seascape Inn had a very lovely garden and a small pool on the water side with beach chairs where their guests could read the morning paper and get wet if the tide was low. The spot was where Thoreau stayed the night when he walked and described the sights, and vegetation and wonders of Cape Cod.

Since our beach was accessible and had sand bars when the tide was low, many visitors were attracted. This enabled us to meet people from all over the world. Beach right of ways are written into many of the deeds. During this era, there were many parties given by collectors and dealers. These events were memorable because of the mixture of people. One that stands out in my mind was hosted by the Chrysler Museum at a newly built Truro motel, The Governor Prence, around the swimming pool. It was strange to see waiters in formal tuxedos serving guests in work clothes, some without jackets, and some in shorts with flip-flops or Duncan sandals. As the champagne flowed along with fancy appetizers, the inevitable happened. Some guests, who couldn’t resist the temptation of swimming in a new swimming pool, dove in fully clothed. Wallets and cigarettes were floating along with tipsy guests.

For several years, Herman exhibited at the HCE Gallery on Commercial Street in Provincetown. He never had a one-man show there, but did have a friendship with gallery owner Nathan Halper and his wife Margerie Windust. Nate was responsible for the annual James Joyce society meetings and lectures in Provincetown, which drew an international audience along with artists and townspeople.

A few years later, Herman found a receptive audience for his paintings at the Wellfleet Art Gallery designed by architect Saltonstall and run by Tom Gaglione. The design of the gallery was excellent for both sculpture and painting. I have to recall how beautiful Maril exhibits looked in this space. Today, the renovated Provincetown Art Association and Museum is able to present this kind of an inviting atmosphere.

There were two East End stores that were special, “Tilly’s” and “The Patrician”. “Tilly’s” owner, Johnny Jason did beautiful caning for chairs and also had an assortment of penny candy. Children and adults could deliberate over what to choose. “The Patrician” was famous for its lunch counter, which featured homemade soups, desserts and great coffee. Cyril Patrick, Jr., the owner’s younger son, enjoyed talking to people. He was interested in history and photography. His photographs were accepted at the Art Association’s exhibits and he began to collect paintings. Later, he was elected to the board of the Art Association and the Historical Museum in Provincetown.

Joe Trovato became attached to our family working as a repairman for Lands End. We had bought our house and got a reconditioned washing machine with a 90-day guarantee. He would bring his son Mike, and place him on the kitchen counter while he struggled to make it work. Joe had repaired items for Hans Hoffman’s house and studio, and became interested in observing and listening to the criticism that he gave his students. He decided to take some painting and sketching classes one winter. When we returned the following summer, our house was full of his nude sketches and paintings since he wasn’t sure whether his wife would approve of hanging them in their home.  Mike lives in Provincetown with his wife and two children and is managing the appliance store that his father founded along with heading the Fire Department. The people at the Cape’s tip have always been concerned about the welfare of birds, wildlife and animals. Before Provincetown had an established animal shelter, Carrie Seaman used her home and yard to care for birds and injured and needy stray animals. We are delighted that the town has “Casas” which is dedicated to this special person. I will never forget the story of Jan Gelb Margo witnessing a small white dog being thrown from a car on to the highway as she was returning from the dunes. “Chita” was rescued by Jan and the sight of the two of them trudging the dunes together remained etched in one’s memory forever.

Another friend and animal enthusiast is Murry Wax, who had majored in art and dance at University if Minnesota. We met in New York at the Forum Gallery in the 1970’s. Before that, he had worked for Edith Halpert at the Downtown Gallery. Later, Murry, who managed a co-op gallery in town, decided that summers in Provincetown were not long enough and became a “year rounder”. We enjoy sharing experiences about the world of art galleries, food, and many colorful friends and artists. I have very fond memories of George Mladinich and his wife Paula, who became intrigued with the artists and the charm of Provincetown when they vacationed one August in the 1960s. George, a chemist in a New Haven based plastics factory, began visiting artists in their studios and collecting small works. Eventually the factory owner helped him open a small gallery in New Haven. Many Cape Cod artists exhibited in the Athena Gallery and some pieces in the Art Association collection, including one Maril in this show, came to the museum through George’s clients.

Baltimore
At the request of his good friend and journalist Richard O’Mara, Herman Maril wrote an article for the Baltimore Sun, which described living in Baltimore. He describes the city as being a peaceful place to work. He took pleasure in looking at the architecture and changes in the city over the years. He enjoyed the harbor where he walked with his father. Some of his early paintings of the harbor and construction were in the Peale Museum and now part of the Maryland Historical Society Collection.

I was not personally acquainted with many of the people who played roles in his early art career such as Sheldon and Martha Cheney, Olin Dows, Diane Arbus, Horton Foote, Etta Cone and others he notes in his journal. Later, some of the people I did know include Charles Parkhurst, Adelyn Breeskin, Howard Wooden, David Scott, Josh Taylor, John Dorsey, Dahl Emmart, Kenneth Sawyer, Frank Getlein, Gene Feinblatt, Dr. Jack Handelsman, Mannus Greenberg, and Dr. Julius Krevans.

After returning to Baltimore from Provincetown, each September, Herman would work on the shapes and colors that stimulated him over the summer. He once said while working on a seascape, that even if he had money he would not want to live on the water side because it would be too distracting with all the variations in the colors and changes in the tide. He enjoyed listening to classical music while he painted. He often said that it was not easy to be an artist, but it was worth the struggle. The empty canvas or paper on the easel was often referred to in his own writings. The favorite photograph of him was the one taken in front of a blank canvas by Aaron Levin.

My husband was loyal to his dealers, particularly Franz Bader, who had managed the Whyte Gallery in Washington. The Franz Bader Gallery had a cosmopolitan bookstore, which was interwoven with the hanging space. Poets, politicians, students, and visitors came from all over the world. On any given day, you could stand next to Robert Frost or a member of the John F. Kennedy administration. When Kennedy was assassinated, Franz, upset over this great tragedy was worried because he had just hung the paintings for a Maril exhibit. The show was well-attended and almost sold out. We later learned that many people knew they would be leaving Washington, with the change in administrations, and wanted to take something to remember the era.

One of the amazing things that make the art world so special is the mix of people with different backgrounds. This is evident from my husband’s summers in the 1930s teaching at Cummington in Western Massachusetts. He felt invigorated and enriched. Writers, poets, musicians, students, rich and poor shared and worked together. Herman developed a life-long friendship with poet William Bronk. Sheldon Hurst, now a dean at Adirondack College, assembled an exhibition in March of 2008 of the connection between the poet, Bronk, and the artist, Maril, which brought to light treasured interchanges that helped all of these creative people. Another meaningful experience for my husband was having his first one-man show in Washington at Howard University at the opening of the Barnett Aden Gallery in 1943. Herman served in World War II from June 1942 to September of 1945. He told me artists were assigned to the camouflage divisions. He was stationed at Fort Knox in the tank division of the army and was later transferred to Newton Baker Hospital where he was active in using art as part of therapy treatment for patients. He had work published in the "Soldiers Art Infantry Journal." Of particular interest is the fact that in one original painting there is a body of a dead or wounded soldier. After the war, he buried the painting by painting over it.

The Reclamation Project was a wonderful experience for artists. In 1970, Herman picked New Mexico. He had been recommended by the painter and sculptor Xavier Gonzalez. The project’s coordinator was Johnny Dewitt. Both he and his wife, Miriam Hapgood Dewitt, summered in Provincetown. Miriam had lived briefly in Taos, New Mexico and was acquainted with the artists and writers in that area. Her parents were in the Movers and Shakers movement. The trip to New Mexico was memorable. The mountains are stark and dramatic. The project dealt with the Chama River. In the project, the artist worked on a group of paintings that interpreted the landscape and what was happening. One of the paintings would be given to the government, but the rest belonged to the artist and were to be exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

During this era, the Baltimore Museum of Art sponsored yearly regional exhibits and had a rental gallery run by their woman’s committee. Area artists were interspersed with the work of contemporaries from all over the world. This was a very exciting period for the Baltimore art scene. The Corcoran exhibit led to some of the paintings being selected by the rental gallery at the Baltimore Museum. Richard Randall, director of the Walter Art Museum at that time, had been following my husband’s work and was able to obtain one of the Chama paintings due to the generosity of collector Jules Horelick. This painting hung in the library of the Walter’s for many years.

At the same time, Mitchell Solberg, design consultant at the Chambers Interior Design establishment, became interested in the Southwest paintings. He not only selected one for himself, but designed the offices of one of the major law firms with the painting the focal point. It took three years, working with all the different people in the law firm, for everyone to agree so the project could be completed and the artists and designers paid.

During our marriage, Herman always had a New York dealer. He once confessed that he would be just as happy with a stipend to live on so he could just paint and not decide what to send where or when. There was a group of collectors who came regularly to his studio to look at work. On the other hand, he had little tolerance for people that he did not like. Therefore there were many prestigious and affluent people who were never invited. He was particularly pleased when someone he never knew, a teacher, or a Nobel Prize winner, bought something that they loved. One of our close friends purchased her first oil painting when she completed her car payments. Another close friend used a small inheritance from a relative to purchase her first painting.

O’Mara, in his article, “A Spell against Death” described a visit when Herman shared what he was working on with special friends “He liked to show his new work. If you asked to see it, he would take you down to his basement studio, sit you in a chair and pull each painting out and carefully set it up on an easel so you could regard it. Then he would return it to its slot and take out another. He handled each picture as if it were precious and fragile, as if were an infant child. In a way, the paintings were his children. I think he probably knew where every painting he ever painted was.”

The Baltimore collector Israel Rosen began his abstract collection by purchasing a small Herman Maril oil painting, which had been exhibited at the Baltimore Museum. Later, we learned he was a physician who specialized in obstetrics and had developed a practice serving the needs of patients in a low-income part of the city. He developed an excellent eye for art and became well known for his collecting. In addition, he was generous with practical information about insurance and artist estates. He was loyal to the artists he collected. It was exciting to be invited to parties at his penthouse and dine eloquently, surrounded by paintings by Clifford Still and others of note. His wife, Selma, was an industrious volunteer at the rental gallery of the Baltimore Museum.

When my husband was given an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Maryland University College, he noted that “it is more important to have your work loved and displayed than it is to have it marketed and sold to someone who may not display it or buys for investment purposes."

There are other special friends and collectors I will discuss in later writings. Dr. Mason Lord, who became a collector when he was in college, and Jules Horelick who after he settled in Baltimore became interested in Herman Maril as well as other artists. There is also a group of doctors, lawyers builders and entrepreneurs who not only collected, but became close friends. Some of these people have been recorded talking about their collections and some I have quoted. Bruce Danzer, Sr., discovered his first Maril painting at the BMA Rental Gallery but began visiting my husband's studio regularly. He came to our rescue by providing us with one of the early telephone answering services to screen the calls of an emotionally disturbed fellow artist who had been calling colleagues at 3 a.m. Friendships have developed with many of these collectors, such as Ivan Stern, who helped us build an affordable art storage vault. Collectors like Sig Shapiro have shared their corporate knowledge in ways that have helped us greatly.

I also want to express my appreciation to the three current galleries who play very important roles. Harmon-Meeks Gallery in Naples, Fla, who I have been with since my husband’s death, David Findlay Jr. Fine Art in New York. All play a unique roll. Each of these establishments is different. Bill Meeks gave me confirmation that my husband had a unique appeal when my family and I had to take over the management of his estate. Louis Newman, director of David Findlay Jr. Fine Art, was first captivated when he viewed Maril paintings at the Bader Gallery in Washington. At that time, he had his own gallery in California. His judgment, professionalism and ongoing dedication have been special and invaluable.

I also want to recognize the vision and support of Dr. Gary Vikan, director of the Walters Art Museum. Dr. Vikan recognizes the role of the museum’s relationship to the community. He appreciates the impact the Walters had on Herman Maril when he visited the museum as a youngster and understands the timeless connection that the treasures of the past have with the present.

Last but not least, I would like to thank Chris McCarthy who discovered the special attributes of Herman Maril when she was familiarizing herself with the collection at the Provincetown Art Association. My husband always felt that there were some very good artists whose works would never be seen because they had no place to be shown. I feel that we have been lucky that Herman Maril’s work has had a devoted audience and continues to be seen, written about and appreciated.
The Two Worlds of Herman Maril

The following essay was written in 2008 to be included in a catalog for exhibitions of paintings by Herman  Maril at the Provincetown Art Association Museum in Provincetown, Mass.  and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

Provincetown
I first met Herman Maril when I was in high school. One of my art teachers suggested I attend an art school instead of an academic college. She thought if he saw my portfolio he might have some helpful advice. He noted that while I had talent, it might be wise to attend college like my parents wanted. He said “If it is meant to be, it will be.”

I followed his advice. After I received my Bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, I decided to become a social worker and learn more about “life”. The Baltimore Department of Welfare agreed to pay for advanced training as part of one’s employment, with a one-year work commitment upon receiving a Master’s Degree.

Years later, I went back to thank him for his advice. It was the autumn of 1947 at his Baltimore studio at Fellowship House. I explained that I became a clinical social worker and this struck a chord with him. His oldest sister, Mazie, who lived in New York, was a clinical social worker and had been very supportive of his becoming an artist.

We met for dinner and found we had many of the same interests. Our courtship took place in his studio. The room was small and there were no paintings on the walls. I was drawn to the colors on the pallet and a small African sculpture was on the mantle. He had acquired it from one of his dealers, Carl ZeGrosser who had a gallery in Philadelphia and handled prints and small watercolors. Herman explained that he happened to be at the gallery when the crates arrived from Africa. He saw these pieces when they were lifted from the straw in the crates and inquired what it would take to own one. ZeGrosser replied that he had a customer for one of Herman’s water colors and that if he sent him $5.00 a month for a year, he could choose the one he wanted. The one he picked was a “fetish”. It had pieces of the lion buried in the parts of the body. The base had information about where it was discovered and the name of the expedition. He admired the way it was carved, and later he wrote about it. After we married and bought our house in Baltimore, it became a part of our daily visual enjoyment. It had to be secured so that the cats could pose beside it without knocking it over.

I knew that our relationship was serious when he gave me a small painting “Quiet Land”. We married the following June, in 1948, but delayed our honeymoon in Provincetown until August.

Herman had visited Cape Cod with another Baltimore artist in 1934. They went by bus and rented a foreclosed property in Chatham for $10.00 a month. It did not have electricity or water, but served as a studio. The farmer next door let them use his well and take vegetables from his garden. Herman met some of the artists who were summering in Provincetown and was taken with the town’s special charm and light.

Duncan Phillips who was staying at the Chatham Bar Inn heard about the artists working “down the road.” After visiting Herman, Phillips invited him to bring paintings to his home in Washington for consideration for his collection.

On my first Provincetown visit, in 1948, I found Cape Cod Bay was very different from the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The colors, the clouds, quaint fishing boats, dunes and scrub pines were awesome and magical. Herman had heard about a lady who rented rooms. Her husband, MoCo, worked at the Ice House packing fish. This property has since been converted to the Ice House Apartments or Condominiums. The Medeiros family’s white shingle cottage had a small yard with apple trees. We had a bedroom, small sitting area, bathroom and kitchen privileges. Amelia Medeiros had come from Portugal as a young girl. She was a fine seamstress and a good cook. She shared her Portuguese soup and other delicacies. The sheets were washed by hand and hung out to dry in the breeze and warm sun. There is no substitute for sleeping on sheets washed and dried this way.

I was introduced to the “warm and welcoming” Ione and Hudson Walker. Hudson not only collected art, but became the champion of artists’ rights. He had owned a gallery in New York and been active in Artists Equity. He wanted the Provincetown Art Association to do more for the artists and the community. He knew that young artists needed studio space and stipends to live. The Walker cottage was open to artists every afternoon for drinks and conversation. Later, he helped start the Fine Art Works Center to encourage and help young artists and writers, as well as the winter economy of the town. The silversmith Ed Weiner had recently come to town and donated one of his creations “The Dancer” to a benefit for the Art Association. Ione Walker was the lucky winner. Since I was a bride and a newcomer, she spontaneously presented it to me as a welcoming gift. Her generosity and warmth were memorable to many. Raphael and Rebecca Soyer were also memorable for “reaching out” to people. Raphael sketched my portrait unbeknown to me and gave it to me signed, as a way of welcoming me into the artists group. Rebecca had wonderful stories to share about the nursery school where she taught. After I was a widow, the Soyers kept in touch and often included me in their activities.

Over the years, my husband was elected to the board of the Provincetown Art Association. He was known for his fairness. He felt that if you ran an art school in the area, you should not be rejected from the August Art Association exhibit. He felt that if there was a question of what had been submitted, members of the jury should go to the artist’s studio to select another entry rather than ruin that person’s summer and livelihood. Some of the other jury members were not as flexible.

One year, the wife of one of the painters who ran one of the larger art schools was very angry that her husband was rejected. At the opening of the exhibit she stamped on Herman’s foot and quickly walked away. Another year, a student that he sent to study with Hans Hoffman was accepted for the August show and was eager for Herman to view her painting. When we couldn’t find it, we discovered that it was hung on a hinged window. In hot August, the window was thrown open, and the picture was completely hidden from view. On still another occasion, the members of the jury, who favored abstract art, hung the Herman Maril entry in the foyer of the Art Association during the August show because the shapes in the painting were recognizable. Herman was very upset because that year there were outside reviewers had been invited. He felt that they wouldn’t think his work was part of the show. After much bickering, they did move the painting, but he never knew whether it was moved in time for the critics to see it. At present, all works exhibited are treated with respect. Selections are decided by qualified judges outside of the local community and there is more wall space and air conditioning. Professionalism now exists due to the present director, Chris McCarthy, and her staff.

We were also fortunate to get to know Phil Alexander who shared the beauty and the bounty of his flowers and vegetable garden. He taught our children about Cape Cod Bay as well as how to dig for sea worms and clams. He was like a grandfather to our family. We had met Phil when we rented his sister Mary Campbell’s house next door to Mark Rothko and his wife and daughter. All of us enjoyed Kendall Lane Beach where Phil kept his boat, which was used on Sunday fishing outings. The fish caught were shared with his neighbors and friends. The Seascape Inn had a very lovely garden and a small pool on the water side with beach chairs where their guests could read the morning paper and get wet if the tide was low. The spot was where Thoreau stayed the night when he walked and described the sights, and vegetation and wonders of Cape Cod.

Since our beach was accessible and had sand bars when the tide was low, many visitors were attracted. This enabled us to meet people from all over the world. Beach right of ways are written into many of the deeds. During this era, there were many parties given by collectors and dealers. These events were memorable because of the mixture of people. One that stands out in my mind was hosted by the Chrysler Museum at a newly built Truro motel, The Governor Prence, around the swimming pool. It was strange to see waiters in formal tuxedos serving guests in work clothes, some without jackets, and some in shorts with flip-flops or Duncan sandals. As the champagne flowed along with fancy appetizers, the inevitable happened. Some guests, who couldn’t resist the temptation of swimming in a new swimming pool, dove in fully clothed. Wallets and cigarettes were floating along with tipsy guests.

For several years, Herman exhibited at the HCE Gallery on Commercial Street in Provincetown. He never had a one-man show there, but did have a friendship with gallery owner Nathan Halper and his wife Margerie Windust. Nate was responsible for the annual James Joyce society meetings and lectures in Provincetown, which drew an international audience along with artists and townspeople.

A few years later, Herman found a receptive audience for his paintings at the Wellfleet Art Gallery designed by architect Saltonstall and run by Tom Gaglione. The design of the gallery was excellent for both sculpture and painting. I have to recall how beautiful Maril exhibits looked in this space. Today, the renovated Provincetown Art Association and Museum is able to present this kind of an inviting atmosphere.

There were two East End stores that were special, “Tilly’s” and “The Patrician”. “Tilly’s” owner, Johnny Jason did beautiful caning for chairs and also had an assortment of penny candy. Children and adults could deliberate over what to choose. “The Patrician” was famous for its lunch counter, which featured homemade soups, desserts and great coffee. Cyril Patrick, Jr., the owner’s younger son, enjoyed talking to people. He was interested in history and photography. His photographs were accepted at the Art Association’s exhibits and he began to collect paintings. Later, he was elected to the board of the Art Association and the Historical Museum in Provincetown.

Joe Trovato became attached to our family working as a repairman for Lands End. We had bought our house and got a reconditioned washing machine with a 90-day guarantee. He would bring his son Mike, and place him on the kitchen counter while he struggled to make it work. Joe had repaired items for Hans Hoffman’s house and studio, and became interested in observing and listening to the criticism that he gave his students. He decided to take some painting and sketching classes one winter. When we returned the following summer, our house was full of his nude sketches and paintings since he wasn’t sure whether his wife would approve of hanging them in their home.  Mike lives in Provincetown with his wife and two children and is managing the appliance store that his father founded along with heading the Fire Department. The people at the Cape’s tip have always been concerned about the welfare of birds, wildlife and animals. Before Provincetown had an established animal shelter, Carrie Seaman used her home and yard to care for birds and injured and needy stray animals. We are delighted that the town has “Casas” which is dedicated to this special person. I will never forget the story of Jan Gelb Margo witnessing a small white dog being thrown from a car on to the highway as she was returning from the dunes. “Chita” was rescued by Jan and the sight of the two of them trudging the dunes together remained etched in one’s memory forever.

Another friend and animal enthusiast is Murry Wax, who had majored in art and dance at University if Minnesota. We met in New York at the Forum Gallery in the 1970’s. Before that, he had worked for Edith Halpert at the Downtown Gallery. Later, Murry, who managed a co-op gallery in town, decided that summers in Provincetown were not long enough and became a “year rounder”. We enjoy sharing experiences about the world of art galleries, food, and many colorful friends and artists. I have very fond memories of George Mladinich and his wife Paula, who became intrigued with the artists and the charm of Provincetown when they vacationed one August in the 1960s. George, a chemist in a New Haven based plastics factory, began visiting artists in their studios and collecting small works. Eventually the factory owner helped him open a small gallery in New Haven. Many Cape Cod artists exhibited in the Athena Gallery and some pieces in the Art Association collection, including one Maril in this show, came to the museum through George’s clients.

Baltimore
At the request of his good friend and journalist Richard O’Mara, Herman Maril wrote an article for the Baltimore Sun, which described living in Baltimore. He describes the city as being a peaceful place to work. He took pleasure in looking at the architecture and changes in the city over the years. He enjoyed the harbor where he walked with his father. Some of his early paintings of the harbor and construction were in the Peale Museum and now part of the Maryland Historical Society Collection.

I was not personally acquainted with many of the people who played roles in his early art career such as Sheldon and Martha Cheney, Olin Dows, Diane Arbus, Horton Foote, Etta Cone and others he notes in his journal. Later, some of the people I did know include Charles Parkhurst, Adelyn Breeskin, Howard Wooden, David Scott, Josh Taylor, John Dorsey, Dahl Emmart, Kenneth Sawyer, Frank Getlein, Gene Feinblatt, Dr. Jack Handelsman, Mannus Greenberg, and Dr. Julius Krevans.

After returning to Baltimore from Provincetown, each September, Herman would work on the shapes and colors that stimulated him over the summer. He once said while working on a seascape, that even if he had money he would not want to live on the water side because it would be too distracting with all the variations in the colors and changes in the tide. He enjoyed listening to classical music while he painted. He often said that it was not easy to be an artist, but it was worth the struggle. The empty canvas or paper on the easel was often referred to in his own writings. The favorite photograph of him was the one taken in front of a blank canvas by Aaron Levin.

My husband was loyal to his dealers, particularly Franz Bader, who had managed the Whyte Gallery in Washington. The Franz Bader Gallery had a cosmopolitan bookstore, which was interwoven with the hanging space. Poets, politicians, students, and visitors came from all over the world. On any given day, you could stand next to Robert Frost or a member of the John F. Kennedy administration. When Kennedy was assassinated, Franz, upset over this great tragedy was worried because he had just hung the paintings for a Maril exhibit. The show was well-attended and almost sold out. We later learned that many people knew they would be leaving Washington, with the change in administrations, and wanted to take something to remember the era.

One of the amazing things that make the art world so special is the mix of people with different backgrounds. This is evident from my husband’s summers in the 1930s teaching at Cummington in Western Massachusetts. He felt invigorated and enriched. Writers, poets, musicians, students, rich and poor shared and worked together. Herman developed a life-long friendship with poet William Bronk. Sheldon Hurst, now a dean at Adirondack College, assembled an exhibition in March of 2008 of the connection between the poet, Bronk, and the artist, Maril, which brought to light treasured interchanges that helped all of these creative people. Another meaningful experience for my husband was having his first one-man show in Washington at Howard University at the opening of the Barnett Aden Gallery in 1943. Herman served in World War II from June 1942 to September of 1945. He told me artists were assigned to the camouflage divisions. He was stationed at Fort Knox in the tank division of the army and was later transferred to Newton Baker Hospital where he was active in using art as part of therapy treatment for patients. He had work published in the "Soldiers Art Infantry Journal." Of particular interest is the fact that in one original painting there is a body of a dead or wounded soldier. After the war, he buried the painting by painting over it.

The Reclamation Project was a wonderful experience for artists. In 1970, Herman picked New Mexico. He had been recommended by the painter and sculptor Xavier Gonzalez. The project’s coordinator was Johnny Dewitt. Both he and his wife, Miriam Hapgood Dewitt, summered in Provincetown. Miriam had lived briefly in Taos, New Mexico and was acquainted with the artists and writers in that area. Her parents were in the Movers and Shakers movement. The trip to New Mexico was memorable. The mountains are stark and dramatic. The project dealt with the Chama River. In the project, the artist worked on a group of paintings that interpreted the landscape and what was happening. One of the paintings would be given to the government, but the rest belonged to the artist and were to be exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

During this era, the Baltimore Museum of Art sponsored yearly regional exhibits and had a rental gallery run by their woman’s committee. Area artists were interspersed with the work of contemporaries from all over the world. This was a very exciting period for the Baltimore art scene. The Corcoran exhibit led to some of the paintings being selected by the rental gallery at the Baltimore Museum. Richard Randall, director of the Walter Art Museum at that time, had been following my husband’s work and was able to obtain one of the Chama paintings due to the generosity of collector Jules Horelick. This painting hung in the library of the Walter’s for many years.

At the same time, Mitchell Solberg, design consultant at the Chambers Interior Design establishment, became interested in the Southwest paintings. He not only selected one for himself, but designed the offices of one of the major law firms with the painting the focal point. It took three years, working with all the different people in the law firm, for everyone to agree so the project could be completed and the artists and designers paid.

During our marriage, Herman always had a New York dealer. He once confessed that he would be just as happy with a stipend to live on so he could just paint and not decide what to send where or when. There was a group of collectors who came regularly to his studio to look at work. On the other hand, he had little tolerance for people that he did not like. Therefore there were many prestigious and affluent people who were never invited. He was particularly pleased when someone he never knew, a teacher, or a Nobel Prize winner, bought something that they loved. One of our close friends purchased her first oil painting when she completed her car payments. Another close friend used a small inheritance from a relative to purchase her first painting.

O’Mara, in his article, “A Spell against Death” described a visit when Herman shared what he was working on with special friends “He liked to show his new work. If you asked to see it, he would take you down to his basement studio, sit you in a chair and pull each painting out and carefully set it up on an easel so you could regard it. Then he would return it to its slot and take out another. He handled each picture as if it were precious and fragile, as if were an infant child. In a way, the paintings were his children. I think he probably knew where every painting he ever painted was.”

The Baltimore collector Israel Rosen began his abstract collection by purchasing a small Herman Maril oil painting, which had been exhibited at the Baltimore Museum. Later, we learned he was a physician who specialized in obstetrics and had developed a practice serving the needs of patients in a low-income part of the city. He developed an excellent eye for art and became well known for his collecting. In addition, he was generous with practical information about insurance and artist estates. He was loyal to the artists he collected. It was exciting to be invited to parties at his penthouse and dine eloquently, surrounded by paintings by Clifford Still and others of note. His wife, Selma, was an industrious volunteer at the rental gallery of the Baltimore Museum.

When my husband was given an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Maryland University College, he noted that “it is more important to have your work loved and displayed than it is to have it marketed and sold to someone who may not display it or buys for investment purposes."

There are other special friends and collectors I will discuss in later writings. Dr. Mason Lord, who became a collector when he was in college, and Jules Horelick who after he settled in Baltimore became interested in Herman Maril as well as other artists. There is also a group of doctors, lawyers builders and entrepreneurs who not only collected, but became close friends. Some of these people have been recorded talking about their collections and some I have quoted. Bruce Danzer, Sr., discovered his first Maril painting at the BMA Rental Gallery but began visiting my husband's studio regularly. He came to our rescue by providing us with one of the early telephone answering services to screen the calls of an emotionally disturbed fellow artist who had been calling colleagues at 3 a.m. Friendships have developed with many of these collectors, such as Ivan Stern, who helped us build an affordable art storage vault. Collectors like Sig Shapiro have shared their corporate knowledge in ways that have helped us greatly.

I also want to express my appreciation to the three current galleries who play very important roles. Harmon-Meeks Gallery in Naples, Fla, who I have been with since my husband’s death, David Findlay Jr. Fine Art in New York. All play a unique roll. Each of these establishments is different. Bill Meeks gave me confirmation that my husband had a unique appeal when my family and I had to take over the management of his estate. Louis Newman, director of David Findlay Jr. Fine Art, was first captivated when he viewed Maril paintings at the Bader Gallery in Washington. At that time, he had his own gallery in California. His judgment, professionalism and ongoing dedication have been special and invaluable.

I also want to recognize the vision and support of Dr. Gary Vikan, director of the Walters Art Museum. Dr. Vikan recognizes the role of the museum’s relationship to the community. He appreciates the impact the Walters had on Herman Maril when he visited the museum as a youngster and understands the timeless connection that the treasures of the past have with the present.

Last but not least, I would like to thank Chris McCarthy who discovered the special attributes of Herman Maril when she was familiarizing herself with the collection at the Provincetown Art Association. My husband always felt that there were some very good artists whose works would never be seen because they had no place to be shown. I feel that we have been lucky that Herman Maril’s work has had a devoted audience and continues to be seen, written about and appreciated.