This story originally appeared in the April/May edition of Living Northside Magazine.
These days, Brenda Steele is known for her bling, but for years she was noted for her stained-glass artistry on church windows and doors.
Jewelry became an unexpected fascination while visiting a friend with her young daughters in Fairhope, Alabama, in 2005. The friend had just taken a jewelry-making class and offered to show them how to make earrings.
One demonstration hooked Steele, and she was off to the local Walmart buying inexpensive jewelry-making tools and beads. She never took another lesson. “For a couple of years, all I did was make earrings,” she says.
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Steele, a full-time artist, makes cuff bracelets, rings, necklaces and more with semi-precious gemstones, beads, copper and other metals. Her artisanship will be displayed and sold this spring and summer at Alpharetta Art in the Park Saturday markets and the Dahlonega Wine and Arts Festival.
She is one of hundreds of artisans whose work, ranging from jewelry pieces to handmade furnishings, will be featured at annual art festivals taking place April through October.
Here are the best places to find the work of artists like Steele this spring in Georgia:
Sandy Springs Artsapalooza. The popular event brings together 150 artists from leather crafters to glassblowers to jewelry-makers. More activities include interactive art stations and children’s play areas. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., April 15; 11 a.m.-5 p.m., April 16. 6100 Lake Forrest Drive, Sandy Springs. sandyspringsartsapalooza.com
Wesleyan Artist Market. The Wesleyan School Arts Alliance’s annual event has mixed media, folk art, sculptures and more masterpieces by 90 professional artists. 7-9 p.m., April 27; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., April 28; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29. 5405 Spalding Drive, Norcross. wesleyanartistmarket.org
Chastain Park Arts Festival. More than 180 participants will exhibit their wares as gourmet food trucks, concession stands and acoustic music round out the festival. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 6; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 7. 4469 Stella Drive, Atlanta. chastainparkartsfestival.com
Alpharetta Arts Streetfest. Held downtown, more than 90 artisans, children’s art activities, local eateries and live music set off the holiday weekend. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., May 27-29. Milton Avenue, Old Roswell Street and Old Canton Street, Alpharetta. alpharettaartsstreetfest.splashfestivals.com
Dunwoody Art Festival. About 40,000 festivalgoers attend this annual Mother’s Day tradition with whimsical arts and craft offerings, a Kidz Zone and food by nearby restaurants. 10 a.m. to 6 pm., May 13; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 14. Dunwoody Village Parkway. dunwoodyartfestival.splashfestivals.com
Dahlonega Arts and Wine Festival. Arts, crafts, a wine garden and regional and local wines are some of the delights in store. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., May 20; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 21. Downtown Dahlonega. chestateeartists.org
Alpharetta Art in the Park. Artists bring their creations to a quaint park setting downtown. Items for sale include mosaic pieces, wood and metal works, pottery, jewelry and more. 9 a.m.-4 p.m, one Saturday per month starting May 20 through September. awesomealpharetta.com
If you enjoy weekend excursions, Dahlonega’s Bear on the Square Mountain Festival celebrates Southern Appalachian music and arts, and Brenda Steele will be an artisan in the juried Artist Market Place. [Also see her jewelry on Facebook, facebook.com/brenda.steele.946.] Other festival highlights include music and dance performances, and storytelling. The 31st annual event celebrates Southern Appalachian music and arts. April 22-23. Dahlonega Historic Public Square, 1 Public Square North, Dahlonega. bearonthesquare.org
During the Marietta Square Art Walk, participating galleries, museums, restaurants and other businesses stay open past normal hours and host local artists in front of their establishments. The event takes place from 5-9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month through November. artwalkmarietta.com