By Brian Benfield
Marietta Arts Council is a non-profit group of volunteers dedicated to the notion that art, in all forms, is for everyone and improves our quality of life, expands our minds, and elevates our mood through advocacy, education, and public art. My heartfelt connection with the arts council goes back to 2018 when my wife and I were searching to buy a house within walking distance of Marietta Square. We knew the Mountain to River Trailfest was taking place along the walking path from Lewis Park, going South through the square and ending at Brown Park adjacent to the Confederate cemetery. This was the inaugural year, and it is a public art display with several hundred large weather-safe panels adorned on the fence gallery along the trail. These original pieces include photography, paintings, drawings, and an awe-inspiring student section. The fence gallery travels around Cobb county after debuting in Marietta, with each city curating its own installation. In addition, live music and dance performances along the route and sculptures created by local artisans are displayed for all to relish.
We drove to Lewis Park on Campbell Hill Street and noticed the kids grinning on the swingsets while their families were busy setting up a picnic lunch as we walked along the sidewalk. A few steps later, we found a house for sale and being renovated, about ninety percent finished. My wife rushed into the house as if she knew this was the one. I saw the real estate sign and dialed the number. She came back out on the small house’s large front porch, flailing her hands wildly and telling me to “get off the phone, come inside and take a look!” I dropped the phone from my ear and said, “I’m talking to the realtor.” I knew too. We ended up buying that house built in 1918 and have had a love affair with the M2R (Mountain to River) Trailfest ever since.
Bonnie Reavis wears a copious amount of hats in the community of Marietta. She is the owner of The Brickyard, a unique event space that hosts weddings and parties of all sizes. Reavis is a partner at The Loft art gallery that curates, displays, and markets art from around the neighborhood and the globe. She is also the Chairwoman of the Marietta Arts Council and spearheads negotiations between the city to get the vast array of dazzling mural paintings approved that are displayed around the city, amongst other countless tasks. I met Bonnie in 2015 when she came on our food tour and afterward exclaimed, “Wow, I thought I knew a lot about the food scene in Marietta, but I stand corrected.” She is a sweet lady who adamantly believes that art, theatre, and cuisine are all woven into our humanity’s fabric and can change how you think and feel about a place, a neighborhood, or an entire community.
Marietta Arts Council is hosting an event on 9/15 from 5-7 pm at Atlanta Cider Company to learn more about how everyone can get involved in molding the future and helping create a vision of what’s to come for the twenty-three square miles that are Marietta city proper. This event will be a meet-and-greet event to get to know the council members and how you can help by providing “human capital,” as Bonnie describes it. Or if you are an artist or looking to be a sponsor to help their cause, then you want to attend this little soiree.
When my wife and I walk to Marietta Square to see a live performance at the Strand Theatre, we pause to gaze at one of many massive, vivid murals, and we see a small child heading into her dance class at The Georgia Dance Conservatory, our hearts and souls are full because we live in a city that fully embraces the arts. And they enrich us in a million different ways. This is tough to express as a writer, but sometimes words cannot describe it. You just feel it.
Brian Benefield is an Atlanta native born in Dekalb County, who has lived in Cobb since 2003. He has worked in Hospitality, Marketing, Real Estate, and most recently Food Tourism. Married to Cecilie Benefield for 12 blissful years.They have a dog, Miss Pickles.Hobbies are mountain biking, running, gardening, and trying new recipes in the kitchen. Member of Les Marmitions cooking club since 2016, where we cook 5-course meals with local Atlanta chefs.