Arts council head quitting to work with sculptor 'True partnership' lures Hatfield way after 5 years

March 30, 1997|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

WANTED: Articulate, intelligent individual with good writing skills who can help internationally recognized bronze sculptor find exhibition opportunities locally, nationally and internationally. Individual will also network with corporations for funding, help with cataloging, correspondence, photography and marketing, and take care of all business negotiations.

Anyone who has worked with Hilary Hatfield, executive director of the Carroll County Arts Council, the past five years knows her name is written all over that job description.

It's a description that was not too different from one Hatfield received several months ago from Bart Walter, a sculptor of bronze from Pleasant Valley.

Walter and Hatfield, who have been friends for four years, officially became business partners last week. Hatfield will resign her arts council post in May.

"The spirit of this is a true partnership," Walter said. "I've been a one-man band for 17 years, and I'm ready to have someone to bounce ideas off of. Hilary has a tough combination of talents to find."

The pair hope the venture will give Walter more time in the studio and Hatfield more time to do things she likes best -- research, networking, travel and what she calls "facilitating the artist."

The professional and personal boost Hatfield gave artists throughout her tenure is part of her success, local artists said. Quilters, poets, painters, photographers and dancers said Hatfield has a keen understanding of their art, how to share it and how to keep its form alive in the county and beyond.

"She is a confidence builder. Artists go through cycles -- both dark and bright times -- and she picked me up during the dark times and instilled confidence in my work," said Phil Grout, a Finksburg photographer.

News of Hatfield's departure was greeted by surprise -- and accolades for her work with the council and its volunteers.

"I was always impressed with her relentless pursuit of excellence, her energy and her passion for dance," said Patty Neivert, director of the Patty Neivert School of Dance in Westminster.

jTC Hatfield's talents, council members and local artists agree, helped the arts council's membership and annual budget more than double during the past five years. Membership climbed from 500 to 1,500, and the council's budget grew from $60,000 to $154,000.

In-kind contributions -- which include services, facilities, equipment and supplies donated to the council by individuals, companies or institutions -- have also increased because of her talents, they said.

Hatfield helped generate more than $10,000 in goods and services for the headquarters at 15 E. Main St. in Westminster. In return, she started a Performing Arts Touring Residency Program for the county with grant money from the Maryland State Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. The 1997 resident performing artists, Footworks, danced with the London production of "River-dance."

Many think it was Hatfield's ability to pull things together that led the Maryland State Arts Council to recognize the Carroll County Arts Council in 1996 as the best in the state.

"I couldn't say enough good things about her," said Michael Levin, an attorney and arts council board president.

Hatfield passes applause to the board of directors and volunteers.

"It's time for me to get out of the way. It's not Hilary/arts council, Hilary/arts council," she said. "It's the board of directors with a long-range vision who made things keep chugging along. I was just the engineer that kept enough coal in the boiler."

The search for Hatfield's replacement has begun with advertisements in area newspapers.

"I know this change is going to be good," Hatfield said. "I never thought that after 5 1/2 years -- all the time and all the emotions -- that I'd feel at peace with this decision to leave. This partnership is a natural fit."

Travel and the ability to work at home were two of many things Hatfield found alluring about the new job.

Whether she is securing an exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, one of the nation's most prestigious museums, or joining Walter as he watches lions in Botswana, she knows there is money in the partnership's budget for travel.

During her first months with Walter, Hatfield said she plans to submerge herself in his work and the sculpting process.

"Basically, I'm going to go to school on him so I can develop the understanding and vocabulary I need to talk with people. Many people know about his animal sculptures -- how he captures their intelligence and their spirits."

Hatfield also plans to research the possibilities of her job and where it can take the partnership.

"I have big plans like approaching the Discovery Channel. And I ** know if I called [Walter] and told him we were commissioned to do a bust of Bill Clinton, his talents could take him there," Hatfield said.

Pub Date: 3/30/97

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