“I picked up a camera around the age of 10, and it changed my world,” he said.
Over the years, Knorr has worn many hats, from chief information officer at the PA Liquor Control Board to director of strategy information at Ahold to his current position as president of the nearby Sunbury Press and economics professor at Wilson and York College.
As if that weren’t enough, he’s added another job to that impressive list—owner of the 2nd Floor Gallery in Mechanicsburg.
The sturdy, brick building located in the heart of town dates back to the 1800s and has been through several incarnations over time, once operating as a Union field hospital and more recently as a Presbyterian Church.
When the congregation relocated in the early 2000s, local art aficionado Jeffrey Van Boskirk set plans in motion to repurpose the building and transform it into a showcase for art lovers. Since then, the gallery has not only survived, but thrived, winning numerous awards, including the “Simply the Best” award from Harrisburg Magazine for the past four years.
When Van Boskirk decided that it was time to move on, he contacted Knorr, and the two struck a mutually beneficial deal. Knorr hit the ground running on Sept. 1 with plans to make the 5,000-square-foot gallery an East Coast art destination.
One of Knorr’s first moves was to bring in Ashley Walkowiak as a partner to assist with marketing and publicity. Since then, the two have been working in tandem to move the gallery into its next phase.
The front of the building has been spruced up with new landscaping, and the interior has been given a fresh look with new paint. Gone are the first floor rugs, which gave way to refurbished hardwood floors. Dull, plastic weatherproofing, which stole some of the dramatic thunder from the glorious, turn-of-the-century stained glass windows, will soon be gone, and copious amounts of light will illuminate the fine art.
Knorr has shown his photography at 2nd Floor Gallery for years and once owned the West Shore Gallery in Wormleysburg. So, he’s no stranger to the art world.
“I’ve always had this desire to try it again,” he said, only now he will have more time to focus on the project, having recently retired from Ahold.
The gallery currently houses about 500 pieces of art and plans are afoot to put a call out for new work.
“We want to have a nice collection of art that appeals to the West Shore community with an eclectic collection of portraits, landscapes, country scenes, contemporary and abstract art,” said Knorr.
An international art competition is also in the works, an endeavor that worked well for Knorr in the past.
“When I owned the West Shore Gallery, I ran a competition called ‘River Art: Susquehanna International Fine Art Competition,’” said Knorr. Today, those 438 works from artists from seven different countries are memorialized in a book of the same name.
Entries in the upcoming competition will go on display at the gallery from March through May 2016 and will be moved to the state Capitol in July.
Knorr will work with a committee to assist him in making decisions on what is displayed at the gallery.
“There are five on the jury who will guide us in determining what to hang here,” he said. “I, myself, tend to think about marketability.”
A commission service is also planned.
“If someone wants a portrait of a family member, house or pet, we’ll have artists who can do that, as well,” said Knorr.
Pat Koscienski has been showing her work at the 2nd Floor Gallery for about 10 years. The Lewisberry artist works with oil, acrylic and pastel when she creates her paintings, which include landscapes, pets and still life. She is optimistic when discussing Knorr’s plans.
“I’m looking forward to the energy, enthusiasm and new ideas that he will be bringing to the gallery,” she said. “This area has a lot of great, talented artists, and everyone’s excited about the new changes.”
Knorr, who himself has authored several books, said that the Sunbury Press will eventually be integrated into the 2nd Floor Gallery.
“We now have about 400 titles and 200 authors under management, so we’ll likely be bringing the bookstore into the first floor of the gallery, where we’ll hold author events,” he said.
As possible movie deals based on Sunbury books make their way through the pipeline, Knorr may have even more on his plate in the future. But, for now, the relentless multi-tasker said he’s just happy to have more time to pursue his passions.
“It’s nice to be at a point where I can decide what to do with my time, rather than having others decide that for me,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed creativity and have a lot of energy for it.”
2nd Floor Gallery is located at 105 S. Market St., Mechanicsburg. For more information, call 717-766-1825 or visit www.2ndfloorgallery.com.