For the second year, Aldridge Gardens is featuring a selection of handcrafted works by local artists at Gifts of Art.


Story and Photos Contributed by Aldridge Gardens Sculpture and Arts Committee

Aldridge Gardens in Hoover hosts the 2nd annual Gifts of Art on Thursday, Dec. 7 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Enjoy one-of-kind works of art crafted by 12 hand-selected Alabama artists, working in ceramics, glass, wood, iron, jewelry and fabric. Functional, wearable, decorative and Alabama-inspired items, right in time for the season of giving. Rain or shine, this indoor show takes place in the beauty and comfort of the Aldridge Gardens gallery in Hoover. Bring a friend, come on your lunch break or enjoy the evening with us. Free admission. Aldridge Gardens is located at 3530 Lorna Road in Hoover. 2017 artists include Dan Browning (wood); Barbara Dollar (silver jewelry); Heather Hepp (glass); Julie Jackson (Inspirals jewelry); Patricia Koski (recycled glass); Tracy Leventry (ceramics); Karen Libecap (miniature paintings); Robin Metz (multimedia); Cindy Phillips (ceramics); Joanna Sanders (Earthwear); Nancy Walton (fabric); and Ajene Williams (Sloss Furnace iron).


Dan Browning, Hoover

An award-winning artist and active wood worker for over 20 years, Dan is recognized as a master craftsman in the area of box making and design. He is especially known for his skill and creativity in blending various exotic woods in his pieces. Dan is the past president of the Alabama Woodworkers Guild and an active member of the West Alabama Woodworkers Association.

Barbara Dollar, Dora

Surrounded by the trees and land that she loves (in her little valley just west of Graysville, Alabama), Barbara Dollar has been rooting her family and her faith, creating jewelry and learning about the family members that came before her and helped pave her path. After finding living cousins thought to have perished in the Holocaust, the Tree of Life became the center of Barb’s creations; a way to express and share how we are all connected, as well as the importance of our roots and the direction of our branches. Most of her pieces are hand drawn and hand sawn, using vintage sterling silver spoons, watch cases, copper and karat gold with the intent of producing heirloom treasures.

Heather Hepp, Tuscaloosa

Heather Hepp owns and operates a glassblowing studio, Little Sandy Glass, just south of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She began glass work in 2000 in Boise, Idaho, where she apprenticed, worked and taught blowing glass. Her studio is at her home in the pecan groves of central Alabama. “I work in glass because molten glass is so amazing,” she says. “The demanding nature of the physical work, I find challenging and deeply rewarding. The thought a vessel made of liquid seems like folly. Currently, my work strives to develop a craftsmanship and simple aesthetic. I use mostly transparent jewel or muted neutral tones with simple patterns. Inspiration for me comes from nature, other glassblowers, other media like pottery, sugar sculpture … and experimentation.”

Julie Jackson, Helena

After receiving a B.S. in clothing, textiles and interior design at the University of Alabama, Julie began designing textiles for a leading manufacturer. She has traveled the world promoting her award-winning designs featured on furniture, wall, floor and window covering collections such as Smith + Noble. Her work is also featured on designer purse and accessory collections. In 1998, Julie began designing, handcrafting and refining her unique and distinctive jewelry creations, later to be known as Inspirals. “What started as a personal creative outlet, gave way to numerous requests from friends, family and acquaintances to create similar, but still unique pieces to complement their tastes.”

Patricia Koski, Bessemer

Patricia Koski has lived in Birmingham all her life. When the recycling centers stopped accepting glass, she began her hobby of turning recycled bottles and broken glass into beautiful art pieces. As her hobby quickly grew, her company Broken not Shattered was born. Since that time, her art has appeared in Birmingham Art Crawl, Art Walk, Mt Laurel’s Holiday Market and Alys Stephens’s LocAl and some local stores. Her hope is to keep glass out of the landfills by transforming them into useable glass art.

Cindy Phillips, Cullman

Cindy has been creating art at least part time for the past 15 years, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and ceramics in 2009, and currently work as a full-time artist in her studio space at home in Cullman, Alabama, and in Studio 2033 at Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment in Huntsville, Alabama. The ceramics she creates are mostly functional, but occasionally sculptural, and are an out pouring of her attraction to the tactile nature of clay. She enjoys a variety of other media as well, working in oils, charcoal, conte’ crayon, linoleum block printing, acrylic with mixed media and encaustic with mixed media. “As a student of art, philosophy and science, I’ve learned one way to seek God is by engaging with natural beauty,” she says. “Daily observation of nature reveals to me that God loves variety – variety in size, shape, form, color and texture, all of which inform and inspire my artwork.”

Joanna Sanders Earthwear, Hoover

She has always been astonished by the natural, unaltered beauty of the earth, which is why she has dedicated her life to it, along with her two beautiful children and her husband. She has worked with plants for most of her professional life, but the creativity and inspiration she had could not be fully conveyed in this way. It was not until she began researching different minerals and gemstones that she found a way she could properly convey nature’s beauty through jewelry. That’s why she founded Earthwear in April of 2011, as a way of lifting the veil and presenting earth as more than just a planet, but as a muse. “Earthwear’s core principle is to pay homage to Mother Earth and my art is simply my way of doing so,” she says.

Nancy Walton, Birmingham

Nancy’s mother made almost all of her family’s clothes, and at about age 6, she began to learn how to sew. She made most of her children’s clothes and her clothes from formal wear to casual clothes. “As our children grew up, I began to play around with fabrics, paper, yarns, etc.,” she says. “Now and for many years I am creating items both practical and whimsical. For many years I have been selling my pieces at Artists Incorporated.”

Ajene Williams, Birmingham

At the age of 23, Williams has mastered the craft of carving into wax what he sees beyond the surface of his subjects. He began his art training while attending Woodlawn High School, where he was encouraged by Jena Momenee. Momenee enrolled him in the Summer Youth Program at Sloss Furnaces, where he was quickly recognized as a gifted artist. Williams was invited to work at Sloss Furnaces in 2011 as a paid intern, and is currently Artist in Residence there, where he studies the art of casting metal under the tutelage of Senior Artists in Residence, Marshall Christie and John Stewart Jackson. He was honored with the Emerging Artist Award at this year’s Magic City Arts Connection.


Tracey Laventry

Karen Libecap

Robin Metz