Dick Yarbrough: Cobb home to a broad, impressive arts community
by Dick Yarbrough
Columnist
February 06, 2010 01:00 AM | 2102 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
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If you would like to see the "Miracle Worker" up-close-and-personal, here's your chance.

Mariettan Kristopher Meadows will be holding a live painting demonstration at dk Gallery on the Square in Marietta Feb. 12, from 6-9 p.m. To say the man can paint is like saying Ray Charles could carry a tune - it is stating the obvious.

Meadows can also teach others how to paint and that is where the miracle worker comes in. He has been my instructor for the past three years and turning me into something approaching artistic competency is like turning water into wine. It is a flat-out miracle. When I show people my finished paintings, they look askance and mutter in wonderment, "You painted that?" as if an old robber-baron-turned-ink-stained-wretch is incapable of such a thing. But I am - thanks to Meadows' patience and encouragement.

I applaud Donna Krueger for recognizing the enormous talent he brings to the local art scene and for having him at her gallery along with Ron Thomson, an Alabama artist and Jeff Lange from here is Atlanta as a part of the exhibition, "Romance of the Figure." Hers is just another example of the impressive and wide-ranging arts community in the county.

In addition to dk Gallery and other galleries located around the Square and known as Artists Alley, there is the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, home to the Atlanta Opera and the Atlanta Ballet as well as Broadway shows and concerts.

The Earl Smith Strand Theater, the marvelous art deco theater that sat dark for three decades, is now a viable part of downtown Marietta, thanks to a group of doggedly-determined volunteers. It is rightfully named for one of the county's stalwarts, former Cobb Commission Chairman Earl Smith. The Strand is the venue for the Atlanta Lyric Theatre, classic movies, concerts and special programs such as "Hearts for Heroes," scheduled for Thursday, which will recognize Cobb County's unique military history and heritage, with proceeds to go to support the Aviation Wing of the Marietta Museum of History.

I am a regular patron of the Theater in the Square, which has been called the best suburban playhouse in the metropolitan area. I agree. I am not an expert on theater in general but, like beauty, I recognize it when I see it and I continue to see top-notch shows at Theater in the Square. Producing Director Palmer Wells and his able staff put on some outstanding productions yearly.

That I even support Theater in the Square is one of life's interesting ironies. During the buildup to the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, I found myself in the middle of a controversy between gay rights groups and their opponents over a play that had originated in the theater and caused such a ruckus that those of us at the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games chose to move an Olympic venue out of Cobb County. Theater in the Square survived the controversy and so did I.

Not only must the various arts organizations satisfy their current clientele, it is critical that they teach new generations to appreciate the role of arts as a critical thread in the fabric of a community. Give high marks to the Cobb Energy Centre's Shuler Hensley Awards, named for the Tony-winning Mariettan, which annually recognizes excellence in high school musicals from outstanding actor and actress to outstanding costume design. For someone of Hensley's stature to make such a commitment to young people who share his passion for the stage tells you much about the man. He hasn't forgotten where he came from and he, too, had help along the way. Now he is giving back.

For its part, Theater in the Square is putting its educational emphasis on children's theater productions geared especially for elementary and high school audiences. Perhaps they will be responsible for the next great playwright.

Ms. Krueger told me she wants to see all the arts organizations band together in promoting the arts in Marietta and in Cobb, including the next First Friday Art Walk, which will begin April 2 and run until October. Art Walk is a free self-guided tour of the Marietta Square's exciting art scene, including galleries, museums, cultural venues, restaurants and boutique. Mark your calendar.

In the meantime, come watch Kristopher Meadows, aka the Miracle Worker, do his thing next Friday night at dk Gallery. You just might learn something. I certainly have.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.
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