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(Enlarge) The large, bright-red, three-pronged abstract sculpture by the west side of Route 24 at Tollgate Marketplace raised some eyebrows when it was created more than 10 years ago. It's one of several pieces of art throughout Bel Air. (Matt Button | Aegis staff)

A sculpture honoring murder victim Patrick Walker will soon grace Lee Way near Shamrock Park, but it’s not the only work of public art in Bel Air.

The town’s cultural arts commission funded another sculpture two years ago, “The Door,” at the corner of Route 1 and Kenmore Avenue, and hopes to also eventually get a bobcat sculpture for the Bel Air High School football stadium.

“We’re just starting out,” Cheryl Manns, chairwoman of the Bel Air Cultural Arts Commission, said about the group’s plans for public art.

Such sculpture around town “adds to the community and we think would help economic development,” she said.

The most visible piece of artistic flourish in Bel Air was not built by the town and raised some eyebrows when it was created more than 10 years ago, Manns said.

The large, bright-red, three-pronged abstract sculpture by the west side of Route 24 at Tollgate Marketplace was built by the developer.

“There was a lot of controversy over that. A lot of people didn’t like that sculpture,” she said.

Although Bel Air’s first town-sponsored sculpture was designed for the “gateway” of Kenmore Avenue and Route 1, Manns acknowledged many people may not even know it’s there.

Surrounded by trees, the dark sculpture that symbolizes Maryland’s heritage of religious freedom will soon get a boost in visibility from the town.

Manns said “The Door,” which was built in 2008, will soon be surrounded by lights to make it more visible at night.

It will also have a bench and a plaque recognizing its designer, James Hill, of Salisbury State University, and its concept of the peaceful heritage and religious freedom granted to colonial citizens of Maryland by Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore, during his reign through most of the 1600s.

The sculpture was built with $25,000 as part of a grant for overall improvements to Route 1 two years ago, and the lighting, plaque and bench will cost roughly another $10,000, Manns said.

“I think the problem is that at night [the sculpture] is so dark, so that’s why we are going to the lights,” she said.

Also, “you could only face it one way, so you see it very well coming north on Baltimore Pike but when you are crossing over Kenmore, it’s not that easy to see. But I truly think lights are going to make a big, big difference,” she said.

The commission also hopes to eventually put up a bobcat sculpture at Bel Air High School, which Manns said has gotten the approval of the principal.

That would cost about $70,000 and there has been no funding allocated for it yet.

“We think there should be more sculptures in Bel Air and with the new school being built, we said, ‘Gee, it would be nice to have something there,’” she said.


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