There is a haven for fine artists in Stone Harbor at a place where art runs in the family.

Mary Cantone, of Ocean City, said that art is in her fiber. She started collecting art when she was 14 years old - that is when her mother and brother opened their first gallery, the William Ris Gallery in Camp Hill, Pa. Cantone said her mother would let her choose a piece of art in a certain price range.

The gallery was established and named for Cantone's late brother, William Ris. Mother and son created the gallery for Ris to operate before his death from a terminal illness in 1970.

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"My mother is a visionary, and my brother was extremely bright, creative, and eager. It was a good mix," Cantone said.

In 1971, William Ris moved to Stone Harbor, and Cantone stepped in to help her mother run the gallery seven years ago.

"She was just tired, and she agreed to let me step in and continue to keep the standards," Cantone said. "In my exploring new possibilities, I reached out to new artists. … Artists are in line to get in here."

The William Ris Gallery features work by artists from all over the country, with a strong representation of local artists. Media range from watercolors and pastels to fiber and clay. She also represents artists who work with stoneware, earthenware and porcelain. Many of the artists have been featured in American Artist and Art in America magazines, Cantone said.

"What I do here is very special," Cantone said. "You will find in me I'm extremely proud of the gallery and the direction we're going in."

Cantone has a background in design and spatial planning. This benefits the gallery, she said, because the gallery is styled floor-to-ceiling with art, which effectively creates a cohesive flow that shows how different mediums, styles, and subjects can complement one another other.

One of her favorite aspects of art, Cantone said, is the sensitivities and respect with which the artists treat their subjects. She loves the back-stories behind a work of art.

"My one wish is that when people walk in this door, they slow down, walk through once, walk through again, and then walk through again," Cantone said.

Stone Harbor is home to other art galleries, such as Ocean Galleries on Third Avenue and Beacon Art - Shortwave Gallery on Second Avenue, but Cantone doesn't view other galleries as competition; she looks at them as educational opportunities.

"The more galleries in the area, the better," Cantone said. "Educating people (about art) is the first step to getting them interested."

Cantone has a number of shows lined up at the gallery in the coming months including Michael Waters on June 28 and John Schisler and Grace and Micahel Zambelli on July 12. Shows will continue through August. Cantone frequently updates the William Ris Facebook page with event and gallery information.

"The most important advice I can give is love what you have in your home. It doesn't matter where you hang it or how you hang it," Cantone said. "We have something for everyone, if people would just slow down and look and not be intimidated by it."

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