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Estonia art exhibit opens in Bel Air

The Aegis

A six-week International art exhibition featuring paintings, textiles and sculpture from Estonia opened Sunday at The Liriodendron in Bel Air.

County Councilman James McMahan, Liriondendron Foundation president, made arrangements with Bel Air’s sister city, Narva, Estonia, to have 30 artworks airlifted to the U.S. for display at The Liriodendron’s art gallery.

The exhibit will run through Nov. 4, along with special events celebrating Maryland's rich history of cooperation with Estonia, such as an Estonian dance and music performance, a lecture about Estonia and two documentary film screenings.

More information on events associated with the exhibit, dates and times is available at or call 410-879-4424.

The Liriodendron gallery, at 502 W. Gordon St. in Bel Air, is open Wednesdays from 1 to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is free. There is ample parking on site at the end of Broadway.

Ranging from intimate portraits to colorful abstracts, the pieces represent the rich cultural heritage and modern-day life of Estonia.

Most of the displayed art is for sale, and McMahan said sales were brisk on the opening day, with between 65 and 75 people attending the opening.

Bel Air Town Administrator Jesse Bane, who attended the opening, said Monday that 200 to 300 people visited the gallery Sunday.

“They did very well with the sales,” he added.

Alongside the artwork, a series of photographs and a silent film depicting life in Estonia in the early 1900s is on display.

Joining McMahan for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting to open the exhibit Sunday were Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith, Harford Clerk of the Circuit Court and former Liriodendron Foundation president Jim Reilly, County Council President Richard Slutzky and county councilmen Chad Shrodes and Patrick Vincenti.

According to McMahan, a Maryland-Estonia relationship after the cold war was part of the NATO Partnership for Peace initiative. Bel Air was one of the first towns in Maryland to begin a relationship with a specific Estonian city, Narva, under an agreement the two municipalities signed in 2014.

The mayor of Narva and other officials have visited Bel Air. Last December, six nursing students from Bel Air and their adviser went to Narva to provide HIV/AIDS education to more than 600 high school students in grades 10 through 12. The exchange served as the nursing students’ practicum.

“It’s a wonderful exhibit,” Bel Air Mayor Susan Burdette said during Monday night’s town meeting.

Burdette recalled how when her children were young she would take them to the Baltimore Museum of Art or to symphony concerts in the city. Now, she said, Harford County and Bel Air host performances of the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra and the town has shown many art programs like the Estonia exhibit at The Liriodendron.

“We’re bringing culture to the Town of Bel Air, which is what our Arts and Entertainment District is supposed to do,” Burdette said.

The Estonia art exhibit is supported by a grant from Maryland State Arts Council through the Harford County Cultural Arts Board, by a grant from Harford County and by the Town of Bel Air.

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