In Benicia, art and community are woven inextricably together. Though small, the city has a multitude of artists who live, work and display the fruits of their creative expression here. It’s hard, if not impossible, to consider the community without a nod to the many artists who make the city a creative hub known throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Giving the town’s artists a centralized focus is Arts Benicia, a nonprofit art center and gallery, surrounded by numerous live-work art studios in the Benicia Arsenal. Arts Benicia is marking its 30th year with a special exhibit showcasing its members. The Art of a Community show is one of the group’s most important exhibits featuring more than 200 works. It will be on view Jan. 23 through Feb. 19 in the Arts Benicia Gallery, 991 Tyler St., Suite 114 in the lower Arsenal. Regular gallery hours are noon-5pm Wednesday through Sunday.

The opening reception, “The Heart of a Community,” took place 6-8pm, Saturday, Jan. 28, and gave people a chance to view the art and meet many of the member artists that make up the organization. The opening reception was followed with Family Art Day, Sunday, 1-3pm, Jan. 29 at the gallery. The Benicia First Tuesday Poetry Group will do an ekphrastic poetry reading 2-4pm Saturday, Feb. 4 at the gallery. Ekphrastic poetry involves describing a work of art through the poet’s words and imagination. Poets in the group selected a piece of art from the exhibit from which to compose a poem. Benicia Poet Laureate Johanna Ely wrote in an e-mail to the poetry group that she hopes at least 12 poets would take part.“This is going to be a wonderful event, as we collaborate with the artists, and show that poetry is also, the Art of a Community,” Ely wrote. The Art of a Community exhibit is held annually, but this one is special due to the 30-year anniversary. For three decades, Arts Benicia has maintained a vital presence in the local and regional arts community, offering classes, shows and events, such as the widely successful annual Open Studios weekend, when scores of artists open their doors to art lovers, buyers and collectors.

Sea Rose, by Arts Benicia member Thomas Eric Stanton

Thomas Eric Stanton

Sea Rose

February is also the month when Benicia’s community of young artists will have their own art exhibition. Inside the Benicia Public Library, the Marilyn Citron O’Rourke Gallery will feature a variety of art from Benicia High and Liberty High School art classes. The student art show is a standing exhibit that takes place annually, and features dozens of pieces done in mixed media. A public reception to give people a chance to meet the young artists took place Jan. 25. Following the student art show, artist Mark Bremer will display his graphite pencil drawings in “Works on Paper” that runs Feb. 23 through March 25. The art gallery is open during regular library hours.