"Old and new" is the theme artist Marshall Adams is using to paint his mural on the side of the Harford County Sheriff's Office headquarters on Main Street in Bel Air.

That theme also parlays into things going on in town. Old is the return of the annual Bel Air Farmers Market, a staple for 38 years. New is the mural, being painted on a huge, solid brick wall. Also new in town are the Hearts of Harford, statues outside public and private places of note in Bel Air to follow its motto: Heart of Harford.

While I like the look of brick, that wall is so massive and dominating, all that brick is overbearing. A nice painting is a wonderful way to brighten up something that over time could grow dull and drab.

The mural itself depicts the old and the new. The old is the courthouse square at it was in the 1950s, painted in black and white. It transitions into full color as the new – the Harford County Courthouse as it stands – is introduced, along with Office and Courtland streets.


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When I was picking up lunch earlier this week, I mentioned to one of the Bel Air town commissioners how much I like the mural and the idea behind it.

He agreed, and said it got him to thinking of other places in town where a mural might look good. There's more than you think, he said.

He also said it's sort of sad to think the mural will likely be covered up in a decade or so, when a building goes up on the site.

That's true, but until that day comes, it will be a nice piece of artistry for everyone downtown to enjoy. To me, it's well worth the $9,000 price tag – paid by the Town of Bel Air – to give a little more life to the area.

It's a great addition to downtown.

(I'm also a little jealous of the artist. Having no artistic ability whatsoever, I'm envious that someone has the vision for and skills to create something like this.)

Also new in town are the series of painted hearts. The one I see most is the one in front of the Bel Air Reckord Armory, right on Main Street, just down from our office.

I've seen the first two; besides the one at the armory, the heart was installed at the office building on Route 22 just as drivers come into Bel Air. A Maryland flag is painted on it.

Local sculptor Adrienne DeRan made the blank, 4-by-4-1/2-foot hearts, which were decorated by artists whose designs were selected by members of the Downtown Alliance, DeRan, local artists and other citizens

Like the mural, the hearts are unique to Bel Air (though the sculpture idea is not) and is yet another way to brighten the town and to get people talking about it.

"The old" returned to Bel Air over the weekend with the opening of the 38th annual Bel Air Farmers Market in the parking lot of the Mary Risteau office building at Bond and Thomas streets.

For decades, farmers, artists and other vendors have been selling their homemade and homegrown products to thousands of Harford County customers.

The farmers market is more than just a place to buy your weekly veggies, it's also a social experience, where people bring their pets and their children to enjoy a nice morning outdoors while at the same time stocking up on fruits, breads, meats and flowers, in addition to some more obscure items.

The prices are fair, but what's best is that you know what you're buying was grown locally, tended by hands of local farmers. I like the idea of keeping it local and we try to do it when we can.

A lot is being done to get people out and about in Bel Air, like First Fridays, which resume in May. And if you're going to try and bring people downtown, it's got to look nice. Bel Air is going a long way toward doing that.