Fiberglass statues of elks painted in vibrant colors dot the streets of Elkton, visitors to and citizens of Baltimore have enjoyed the whimsical statues of fish and crabs and, before long, Bel Air will be displaying its own representations of local pride.
A project, conceived by the Design Committee of the Downtown Alliance, aims to place statues of hearts (the Valentine type, not anatomically correct ones) outside public and private places of note within Bel Air. The use of hearts is, of course, a reference to Bel Air's motto and logo: "The Heart of Harford."
Local sculptor Adrienne DeRan has been commissioned to make the blank hearts, while artists from across Maryland will be invited to submit proposals for painted designs for the hearts. The suggested designs will be reviewed by a jury including DeRan, members of the Downtown Alliance, local artists and private citizens.
Suggested locations for the completed heart statues include the Harford Historical Society, the Reckord Armory, the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, the Bel Air library branch and Bel Air Town Hall. The Downtown Alliance hopes at least some will be in place in time for the Maryland Barbecue Bash on Aug. 10 and 11.
Town Administrator Chris Schlehr said they are hoping to encourage local artists to paint the hearts. He told town commissioners during a work session last month that the project was "just taking shape."
He added, however, that "at least four are going to be happening; one for the barbecue bash."
Schlehr said the outdoor hearts will be about four feet by four and a half feet. There is also a plan to place smaller hearts inside some businesses, he explained.
It costs $1,000 to fabricate the larger hearts, according to Schlehr, who said sponsorships will be sold for $1,300. If the sponsor wants to paint the heart, it will be another $200. Designs will have to be approved by the Downtown Alliance.
Mayor Eddie Hopkins asked what would happen if a business around one of the proposed outdoor locations doesn't want a heart, and Planning Director Kevin Small replied they probably wouldn't use that particular location if there are objections.
The town is also considering commissioning a mural for the side of the Harford County Sheriff's Office building that will be overlooking the new Main Street parking lot, according to Economic Development Director Trish Heidenreich.
The concept of a mural is still "purely in the discussion state," Heidenreich said last week, and the Harford County government, which owns the building, will have to grant permission for the mural before further action can be taken. Some of those discussions among town officials have mentioned an agricultural theme for the mural, which will overlook the Tuesday farmers market, once the parking lot is finished.
Funding for the mural, of $10,000, was in a final 2012 budget amendment that was approved by the town commissioners Monday evening. The grading and curbing for the parking lot was completed by Thursday afternoon, and paving is imminent.