The range of creativity in this town has always inspired, and the public art scene in Benicia recently picked up even more steam with the opening of the new 621 Gallery, but after last night’s reception for the Library exhibit I Read the News Today, Oh, Boy! I was impressed anew. The show is not only compelling and unique, it invites the viewer to spend some time lingering, and enjoy artistic collaborations whereby poets and visual artists paired up to create representations of their reactions to current news articles.

 The exhibit is the brainchild of Ronna Leon, whose abundant creative energy shines through in everything she tackles. Ronna became our Poet Laureate in 2010 and in her short tenure, she has brought poetry to the forefront for the enjoyment of everyone—not just other poets. The sweet “Poem Homes,” small mailbox-like structures sprinkled around town, are just one example of the ways Ronna invites people to connect with poetry by helping themselves to a free poem by poets from all over, including famous ones. It’s no small feat but Ronna has accomplished it—bringing poetry into the mainstream of Benicia life.  

 This outrageously clever poet-artist exhibit deserves a little time, but unless you are emotionally impermeable, you’ll be rewarded by catching a bit of the glow that stems from the passion put into each and every one of the fourteen artistic creations. Don’t miss it – the exhibit would be at home in any world-class gallery.

 Benicia Public Library, through July 29, 2011