Meet the Artists

Brenda Bickta

Brenda is an avid gardener and artist.  She and her husband moved from Pennsylvania to Sneads Ferry, NC about six years ago to be close to the beach.  Brenda loves painting turtles, fish, octopus and anything in the ocean. She especially loves to paint mermaids. Brenda also creates resin and beach glass pictures and ornaments from shells she finds on Topsail Island.  She painted a mural of a Turtle Sanctuary Forever stamp at the Topsail Beach Post Office. Also, her squirrel, Peaseblossom, was part of the 2020 Squirrel Sculpture exhibit.

Gabriel Eng-Goetz

Gabriel’s studio is based in Durham, North Carolina USA. His work explores the cultural history of identity, including his own as an Asian American born and raised in the South, and our human connection to the natural world. Outside of creating artwork for clients and collectors, Gabriel works with his community to showcase and uplift North Carolina’s vibrant and diverse art scene by producing/curating events and working as a youth mentor.

Evelyn Fischer

Evelyn grew up in the Piedmont region of North Carolina and studied painting at UNC-Charlotte. After graduating, she pursued a career as a textile artist and designed woven fabrics for the Home Furnishings Industry. She currently lives in the port city of Wilmington, NC.

Evelyn has a lifelong interest in working with diverse artistic media. She paints with oil, acrylic and pastel and create mixed media, mosaic and gourd art. Her inspiration is found in the beauty of nature that is all around us, and uses her imagination as a blank canvas. “My hope is that the magic I see in nature will be visible in my art.

Jessica Gates

I am originally from Connecticut where I first began taking oil painting classes with my grandmother as a young child. After college I taught Preschool for many years until about 10 years ago when I began homeschooling my own two boys. I find my creative inspirations always come from nature. I enjoy the simplistic details, colors and the ever-changing environment. I enjoy using watercolors, acrylic paints and photography. After moving to the area about 3 years ago, I now find inspiration on hikes, the ocean, and sunsets as well as  beautiful plants, trees and flowers right here at Airlie Gardens where I enjoy working as a Ticket Agent.

Brooks Koff

Brooks Koff “paints with glass” creating unique Stained-Glass Mosaics that beg for a sunny window to catch and transform light into brilliant color! Unlike traditional stained-glass work, her pieces are created without the use of patterns, giving her freedom to fully explore color and design. For nearly twenty years, Brooks volunteered as an art teacher at her children’s elementary school, New Horizons. In 2004, she was invited to be one of the contributing artists to the Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden and Bottle Chapel in Airlie Gardens. She helped over 100 local students create the mosaic stepping stones that adorn the foundation and walkway into the chapel. She also created a tribute piece to Minnie Evans–a small mosaic wall around the back of the structure. Her work has been featured in many local magazines – Encore, WILMA, Wrightsville Beach Magazine, SALT, and Haven (the Bald Head Island Magazine) – as well as highlighted on a nationally syndicated PBS show. She participates yearly in the Heart Art Show at the Cicada Metals Gallery, Art for the Masses, and the Spring Flea at the Brooklyn Arts Center. She’s an army brat and the self-proclaimed “well-adjusted middle child” from a family of eleven children! She and her husband raised their five children here in Wilmington—several of whom have grown up to be artists themselves.

Karen Snave

Karen has been illustrating and designing professionally since 1984. She studied Fine Art at the Chelsea School of Art in London and graduated from the American Academy of Art in Chicago. She excels in both traditional and digital art and has illustrated for publishers, ad agencies, manufacturers, developers and corporations both large and small. She enjoys bringing a positivity and joy to others with her art and making magic happen.

Rupam Varma

Rupam is an artist who enjoys expressing her experiences and influences in life through various forms of art. She does pencil sketches, watercolor, oil, acrylic, fabric, Madhubani paintings and Zentangle Art. She has been teaching various art forms to different age groups for more than 20 years.

Her subjects focus mainly on nature – landscapes, flowers, birds & animals. She uses oil paints, acrylic paints and natural pigments for bringing out various hues and colors. Her training in art skills during her studies in Varanasi has made her an artist that can experiment with multiple mediums and forms of art. She is also a Certified professional Mithila Painting artist from National Institute of Mithila Art.

Kristin McLoughlin

Kristin is originally from New York with a background in painting. She currently works as a professional makeup artist and esthetician, while pursuing art projects on the side. Kristin loves to create vibrant, colorful pieces with an emphasis on detail and whimsy. She is thrilled to be a part of the Airlie exhibit again this year and has immensely enjoyed the creative process of bringing this giant rabbit to life!

Sara Toothman

Sara is an idealistic, creative visual arts teacher determined to make a positive impact on her community. She’s a local artist who dabbles in painting and education. When not making art you’ll most likely find her geeking out over comic books, video games, or sci-fi and fantasy. Sara was a classroom art teacher for 10 years, serving as the 2013-2014 Pender County Teacher of the year. She enjoys painting, photography, metal sculpture, and animation.

Nikki-Cherry Crofoot

Based in Ashboro, Nicki is a full time artist with her own studio The Preppy Possum.