Art Enriches Life: The Marietta Arts Council

By Brian Benfield

The Marietta Arts Council is a non-profit volunteer group dedicated to the idea that art, in all its forms, is for everyone and improves our quality of life, expands our minds and uplifts our mood through advocacy , education and public art. My sincere connection to the arts council dates back to 2018 when my wife and I were looking to buy a house within walking distance of Marietta Square. We knew the Mountain to River Trailfest was along the Lewis Park walking trail, going south through the plaza and ending in Brown Park next to the Confederate Cemetery. It was the inaugural year, and it is a public art exhibit with several hundred large ornate weatherproof panels on the closing gallery along the trail. These original pieces include photographs, paintings, drawings and an impressive student section. The Closing Gallery travels through Cobb County after its debut in Marietta, with each town hosting its own installation. Plus, live music and dance performances along the route and sculptures created by local artisans are on display for all to enjoy.

We went to Lewis Park on Campbell Hill Street and noticed the kids smiling on the swings while their families were busy packing a picnic as we walked along the sidewalk. A few steps further, we found a house for sale and renovation, about ninety percent complete. My wife rushed into the house like she knew it was the one. I saw the real estate sign and dialed the number. She came back to the big porch of the little house, waving her hands wildly and told me to “hang up the phone, come in and take a look!” I dropped the phone from my ear and said, “I’m talking to the real estate agent.” I also knew. We ended up buying this house built in 1918 and have had a love affair with the M2R (Mountain to River) Trailfest ever since.

Bonnie Reavis wears an abundant amount of hats in the Marietta community. She owns The Brickyard, a unique event space that hosts weddings and parties of all sizes. Reavis is a partner of The Loft Art Gallery which curates, exhibits and markets art from the neighborhood and around the world. She is also the president of the Marietta Arts Council and leads the city’s negotiations to get approval for the vast array of dazzling murals that are on display in the city, among myriad other tasks. I met Bonnie in 2015 when she came on our food tour and then exclaimed, “Wow, I thought I knew a lot about the Marietta food scene, but I’m correcting myself.” She is a gentle woman who strongly believes that art, theater and cuisine are all woven into the fabric of our humanity and can change the way you think and feel about a place, a neighborhood or an entire community.

The Marietta Arts Council is hosting an event September 15 from 5-7 p.m. at the Atlanta Cider Company to learn more about how anyone can get involved in shaping the future and help create a vision of what is to come for the twenty-three square miles which is the town of Marietta proper. This event will be a meet-and-greet event to get to know the board 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 party.

When my wife and I are walking to Marietta Square to catch a live performance at the Strand Theatre, we stop to gaze at one of the many massive and vivid murals, and we see a small child walking towards his class. dance 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. It’s hard to express as a writer, but sometimes words can’t describe it. You just feel it.

Brian Benefield is a Dekalb County-born Atlanta native who has lived in Cobb since 2003.

He has worked in hospitality, marketing, real estate and more recently food tourism.

Married to Cecilie Benefield for 12 happy 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.

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