When the Town of Bel Air put the finishing touches on the new Armory Marketplace, a collection of small business spaces located in the former garages behind the Milton A. Reckord Armory, it offered a premier and permanent space to the Harford Artists Association for a gallery. There were a few jitters among the members, though, at the idea of moving from their tiny former caretaker’s cottage at Rockfield Manor on the edge of town.
But when association member Pattie Stonesifer, 79, stepped into the empty but modernized 70-foot-by-22-foot space located in a walkable area of downtown, she instead saw the future.
“We had put five years remodeling that 1946 cottage and making it into our gallery,” says Stonesifer. “When I saw the new space, I felt like a fickle girlfriend. I said ‘The heck with that little cottage, this is fabulous.’ ”
With little fanfare, Stonesifer set out to recruit volunteers, design the layout, raise funds, buy furniture, oversee volunteer construction of artist display panels, coordinate lighting and plan expanded community art programs. In all, she rallied about 39 volunteers and helped raise $7,000.
Angela Robertson, Bel Air’s Arts & Entertainment district manager, says Stonesifer stepped up as a detail-oriented leader during the move.
“Pattie was full of energy and thought of every detail,” she says. “Now we have a great destination right in downtown Bel Air that showcases the work of the Harford Artists Association.”