There’s no better way to spend a crisp Fall day in Georgia than outdoors at a neighborhood festival.

From the inspiring cornucopia of colors to the invigoratingly brisk air that refreshes the soul, getting outside among neighbors to celebrate community, creativity and collaboration (and maybe sneak in a little bit of holiday shopping) is a time-tested tradition here in Cobb County. For one Marietta neighborhood, this custom has evolved through the years and taken on a life of its own.

Originally called Art on Freyer and hosted in individual homes, the Cherokee Heights Arts Festival has since expanded to a street bazaar that includes the whole block of Etowah Street between Freyer and Seminole. It’s also extended its offerings to include a wide array of not only art but activities, food and entertainment — more than 40 vendors in total.

For one Cherokee Heights resident, the festival also provides the perfect opportunity to share her love of art and give something back to the neighborhood she calls home.

Artist Toni Phillips, of Toni Phillips Studio LLC, has enjoyed much success as a working painter and formerly as an art teacher. Today, she not only is working on a new collection of her own layered, large-format art but donates her time to inspiring youngsters at the Cherokee Heights Arts Festival each year.

“Three years ago, I was thinking how I could participate and wondered if I could go out and teach the kids something,” Phillips said. “It’s a lot of fun because the kids are hanging and showing their work. It’s very moving and fulfilling. I leave that day on a high.” 

Each year, Phillips (with help from her husband, Steve, and son, Hudson) sets up a still life based on a master painter’s work to teach emerging artists at Cherokee Heights Arts Festival. Phillips works with the budding artists in pastels and temper paint to create works that are as individual as the kids who attend the event.

“One year, we did Matisse and goldfish and another year we did Van Gogh and sunflowers,” she said. “Parents get into it, too.”

This year’s theme is a surprise, but you can rest assured the result will be a beautiful and personal piece of art you’ll be proud to hang in your home. Added bonus? You’ll bring more home from the Cherokee Heights Arts Festival than holiday gifts and your child’s handmade artwork. You’ll also make some family memories — and those last a lifetime!

Photography by Kelly J. Huff

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