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Painted From (Maryland) Life

Posted 8/5/2009

I enjoyed reading the thoughtful and well-written review by Martin L. Johnson in the July 22 issue of City Paper on the exhibition Herman Maril: An American Modernist at the Walters Art Museum. However, as the son of the artist, I feel the impression was given that even though my father (1908-1986) lived in Baltimore, the themes of his work through the middle and later parts of his career seldom reflected the Maryland area.

It's true his subject matter covers areas all over the world, including Spain, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, the Adirondacks, California, and the Southwest. It's also a valid point that his Cape Cod seashore paintings are extremely popular, especially in the heat and humidity of most Baltimore summers.

However, my father never forgot about Baltimore, where he returned every fall after spending each summer in Provincetown, Mass. He continued to devote a number of oils and watercolors to the Maryland scene throughout his long career.

Over a dozen Maril paintings that include city and statewide scenes are in the collection of the Maryland Historical Society. A 1975 oil that was inspired by Charles Street entitled "Evening, the City" was selected by the Aaron Copland Music Society to be on the cover of a classical album two years ago. My father painted a number of lacrosse paintings and quite a few horse race paintings from Pimlico. Two of his oils of a Baltimore football game and hockey game are in the sports painting collection of the Butler Institute of American Art. He did several oils of skaters on Maryland ponds. In the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s, he produced a series of city construction paintings, and a couple focused on the Jones Falls Expressway. Last year, a painting entitled "Near East Pleasant Street" was exhibited and sold by the David Findlay Jr. Fine Arts gallery in New York.

Although it's true he didn't limit himself to becoming known for painting Baltimore scenes, he never turned his back or brush away from his native city.

David Maril
Franklin, Mass.

Correction: Last week's feature story on what's in the Baltimore Harbor ("Something in the Water," July 29) incorrectly reported that projectiles dating from the 1812 Battle of Fort McHenry were found on the bottom near the fort; in fact, the battle took place in 1814.

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