Tempe’s Pyle Adult Recreation Center hosted its annual Fall Art and Craft Boutique Friday and Saturday, providing artists from all over the Valley with an opportunity to turn their art and craft passion projects into profit.
The Pyle Adult Recreation Center, located one building west of the Tempe Public Library, has hosted the boutique for more than 25 years.
The event drew 48 vendors selling their handcrafted wares, including storybook blankets, jewelry, ceramic tableware and Christmas decorations.
In addition to the vendors that filled the interior of Pyle with their colorful crafts and conversation, a small stage was set up outside for entertainment throughout the weekend, provided by Pyle’s own senior songbirds and tap dancers who practice at the center. Hula dancers, belly dancers, and yo-yo performers rounded out the rest of the weekend entertainment.
Lyn Cahill-Ramirez, senior recreation coordinator for Pyle, said that the center mainly provides smaller recreational and social events for the community, and the Fall Art and Craft Boutique is the largest event the center hosts all year.
Cahill-Ramirez said that Pyle is hub for senior activities and classes throughout the week.
“Typically during the week in the daytime [Pyle] really operates as a senior recreation center…It’s an active place for people who are retired,” Cahill-Ramirez said.
One of the groups that meets regularly at the center is the Tempe Needle Wielders, a group of about 40 members that make various items including hats, quilts and baby blankets to donate to non-profit organizations.
Christy Summers, the city of Tempe supervisor for Needle Wielders, said the arts and crafts boutique is the only time the group sells their products to public.
“This is our fundraiser for the year, so we can make cash donations for local charities, and then we keep a little bit for our operating [costs],” Summers said.
Recently, Needle Wielders donated some of their yarn to Perryville Prison in Goodyear to inmates that are taking a crochet class. The blankets made by the inmates were on sale Friday and Saturday.
The boutique marked the first time vendors Lisa Brethour and Pam Wiles attempted to sell their porcelain and stoneware pottery.
“We both really enjoy making practical work for everyday use,” Brethour said.
Brethour and Wiles met in a Mesa Community College ceramics class four years ago and have been making pottery together ever since. Wiles said business was good, and the pair plan on returning next year.
Richard Nearing, a professional artist and author for the past 30 years who specializes in historic Arizona buildings, sold his pencil and ink drawings, prints and books that he wrote and illustrated.
Nearing travels across Arizona in search of historic buildings and researches their history every time he embarks on a new drawing.
“I feel that preservation is extremely important, and they keep knocking some of these old buildings and homes down, so I’ve been putting it on paper,” Nearing said.
Tempe resident June Regan attended the event for the first time Saturday to get a head start on Christmas shopping. Regan took some time to sit on the patio, watch the entertainment, and savor the afternoon weather.
Regan, originally from a small town south of Boston, said she enjoyed the relaxed environment at Pyle, which she said was reminiscent of the art and craft fairs she remembered back home during this time of year.
“[The boutique] had a real country-fair type of atmosphere,” she said. “It has everything you want when you come to a crafts fair.”
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