WESLEY CHAPEL — To support his family, Alan Metzger spent his working years in advertising and various business ventures. Brick Brickel used to be a nurse who helped pay her bills by selling handmade beaded necklaces to friends and colleagues.
Four years ago, the light bulb went on for both of them.
That's when, after years of procrastination, Metzger, 69, finally drafted a financial plan, quit his job and started painting for a living. It dawned on Brickel, 65, that she should venture into the art of glass fusion.
Metzger, who two years ago moved from Broward County to Wesley Chapel, found some acclaim after winning a commemorative poster contest in 2014 for the International Polo Club of Palm Beach.
"I used to be a starving artist, then an emerging artist; now, I'm an inspired artist," said Metzger, who is still riding on an epiphany that has filled his portfolio with acrylic and oil renditions of horses, Florida nature scenes and other subjects.
Brickel, who lives in St. Petersburg, started selling her wares at the Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market and now supports herself solely by selling wearable art creations online and at several arts festivals.
The two are among some 130 fine artists and craftspeople who will exhibit their work at the Suncoast Arts Fest on Saturday and Sunday at the Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel. The event will feature art of various mediums as well as an Emerging Artist Exhibit featuring middle and high school award winners. Other highlights will include live entertainment, sidewalk chalk artists, a mini artmaker space, food and beverages, and plenty of hands-on creative activities for kids. An added feature for those who are adept at using their cellphone cameras is the opportunity to capture photographs at the festival and enter them in a "phonography contest" sponsored by Rasmussen College. Festivalgoers also are welcome to create an original design and have it etched on glass at the Duncan McClellan Glass Etching Experience.
Add to that the opportunity to enrich the local community.
The Suncoast Arts Fest is produced by Fine Arts of the Suncoast Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization with a mission "to develop a community culture that embraces the arts."
While the juried show highlights and rewards local and visiting artists with cash prizes, proceeds are funneled into arts programs in local public, private and charter schools.
According to publicity person Laura Knox, Fine Arts of the Suncoast has impacted more than 15,000 students over the last 10 years by awarding more than 90 mini-grants to local teachers. In 2014, grants were awarded to 24 schools in Pasco County.
That the event supports a worthy cause makes it a standout on the art show circuit for Brickel, who has presented her fine jewelry at the Suncoast Arts Fest for four years.
Usually, the money raised from application and rental fees goes to a show's promoter, she said.
"I'm really happy that this is going to go to something that is going to be helpful," she said. "After all, where would we be without art?"
Contact Michele Miller at [email protected] Follow her @MicheleMiller52.