Howard Rogers – Maritime Artist and Renaissance Man

By Bob Tagert

Howard Rogers – Maritime Artist and Renaissance Man

Personality Profile-Howard 1Twenty-one years ago, the bridge over Spa Creek that connects Annapolis to Eastport, Maryland was closed for needed repairs. The bridge is the main connection between Annapolis and Eastport and having it closed insured that an economic loss was certain. A group of sailors and such all got together and decided to secede from Annapolis and the Maritime Republic of Eastport was born. (Google it for more information about the MRE). It was about this time that we first met Howard Rogers and learned of his colorful Raven Maritime Studio in Eastport. Progress claimed his studio years ago and Howard moved his residence and studio to 278 Hillsmere Drive just outside of Eastport but not far enough that he can’t ride is bike to his favorite mid-week happy hour at Davis Pub in Eastport.

Recently we caught up with Howard at his weekend retreat, Ebb Tide Tavern, a short distance from his new digs…and yes, he came by bicycle. There are some people that you meet in life that are actually larger than life, and Howard, standing at 5’3 ½’’ and weighing 118 pounds, is larger than life.

Howard is from Kent, a small town south of London. He had learned the trade of ship joiner, but work was hard to find so he decided to migrate to the USA. “It is a good trade, but nobody wanted me, so I developed an overwhelming desire to get the hell out of England,” he tells me. He arrived in the waterfront town of Urbana, Virginia and found work at a local boatyard. “I put my trade to use and started building boats,” he says.

In 1971 Howard returned to England and got married at the ripe old age of 26. “She was old”, he says, “she was 19.” In 1972 the newlyweds returned to Deltaville and Howard resumed his boat building career and braving the cold winters with his new bride. In 1976 the couple divorced, and his wife returned to England.

From 1975 to 1977 Howard found himself living on a 60-foot boat along the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. “I have slept many a night on a boat,” he tells me. “The winters can be pretty cold.” “I once had a snowmobile suit that was so warm you could sleep naked in the suit and still be warm.” From Washington, D.C. Howard found his way to Annapolis, Maryland.

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Looking for a place to stay he discovered the now deserted Trumpy boatyard where the world class wooden yachts were built. “I found a 23’ Seafarer sailboat to live on,” he says. “it was an egg shell of a boat… I froze my ass off that first winter.” The Chart House restaurant began construction of their Annapolis property soon after and Howard had to move. “I found a rooming house where the Boatyard Bar & Grill is today and secured a room for $50 a month,” he says.

About this time Howard returned to his natural talent of drawing and painting and turning his boat building skills into Incise and Bas-Relief carving. “I have always had the ability to draw and paint,” he tells me. “I enjoy it, especially on a cold rainy day.” You can tell the quality and skill in his pen and ink and watercolor pieces. “You know,” he says, “a painting is never done…you just stop.” He also crafts his frames by hand. If you have a piece of his art, you truly have a work done from the heart.

Fleming Yachts noticed the quality of Howard’s work and hired him to do all the main boards and quarter boards for their yachts. Quarter boards are handsomely carved and gilded ornamental sign boards, originally made for the ships whose names they bore. They are sometimes referred to as sternboards, the difference being the location on the ship.

Over time, Howard weaved his way into the fabric that is Eastport. As most of you know, the Annapolis/Eastport area is famous for its world class sailors and particularly the Wednesday night races and in winter, the frost bite racing. Where Ruth Chris Steakhouse is in Eastport, there once was the famous Marmaduke’s Pub and the home of Wednesday night racing. From the late 80’s to the mid 90’s Howard shot the movies from the camera boat filming the races and then showing them later that evening at Marmaduke’s where all the sailors would go. Today, that footage is shot with Drones.

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At age 74 Howard is beginning to slow down a little. He has no plans to retire…” I like what I do, and I like to stay busy.” Living off social security, a modest savings and small jobs, he must stay busy. He has a lot of art stored away and would like to do an art show. We have encouraged him in this endeavor and are on the search for a venue and a time for a viewing of Howard’s classic art. If anyone has any ideas, give us a shout.

Howard is a man of the times looking into the future.

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