Arts, Crafts Fair A Big Hit


The smell of cotton candy wafting past your nostrils, eating homemade ice cream, a mom and her daughter strolling along, looking at what could very well be their next family heirloom.

All of these things and more were available over the Labor Day weekend at the Pine/Strawberry Arts and Crafts Fair, as area artists, along with visiting artists and craftspeople displayed their wares along Highway 87 through Pine.


An umbrella provided Ken and Kelly Gunderson with some shade at the Beaver Valley art and craft show last Saturday. The two are part of the Payson Car Club, which showed off their cars. The 1964 Mustang belongs to the couple.

The fair is an annual event and has grown steadily in the last couple of years, according to Pine residents Maya Joy Angeles and her husband John Hall.

Angeles and Hall have lived in Pine for five years and just bought a house on Highway 87 about three months ago. They plan to use it to open the Crystal Lotus Gallery in the next few months.

"We're not really open as a gallery yet, but we wanted to join in on the Labor Day festival, so we invited some artist friends over," Hall said.

One of the artists invited to show was Ruth Greene from northeast Phoenix.

Greene produces what she calls "environmental" quilts, in which she incorporates themes of earth, wind, water and fire.

She said the reception she has received from those who have come to look at her quilts has been very positive.

"The crowd has been wonderful, a lot of people coming in and it has just been terrific," Greene said.

Karen Runner, another visiting artist, came from Denver, Colo. to showcase her talent for drawing and creating one-of-a-kind jewelry.

She has been handcrafting jewelry for about 10 years and drawing rock formations for about a year and a half.

Runner has visited Pine in the past, although this is her first time to show her work at the fair.

Angeles' daughter, artist Jennifer Russo, came to Pine from Albuquerque to show pencil sketches and pen-and-ink drawings. She also lent her mother a hand with running the show at the gallery.

"I've been drawing for about twelve years," she said. "But this is my first time showing in Pine."

"My mom lives up here and this is her new gallery she's planning to open, and I spend a lot of time here, so I came to help her out," Russo said.

Yet another artist at the festival, Dana Halverson, creates her jewelry as a type of therapy, she said.

"I've always been very creative, but I have a normal nine-to-five job," Halverson said. "And it would not allow me to have a creative outlet, so I chose to start making jewelry because it was a kind of therapy for me."

"My girlfriend ran Natasha's Old-Fashioned Lemonade here in Pine, and she told me I should come up here, and so here I am," she said.

Halverson is also from the Valley.

"It's always a pleasure to get out of the heat, it's a wonderful fair, and if you're a newbie everyone is more than willing to help you out," she said.

This is Halverson's third time coming to the Pine festival, and she says she will definitely be coming back.

She came up on the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and now Labor Day. "It's a great way to get away and meet some really nice people, and you get an opportunity to sell your stuff," Halverson said.

Another unique artist at the show was Steve Dash from Cordes Lakes, who creates art from antlers and bones he finds laying around in the deserts and forests in Arizona.

He said he didn't see it as a moneymaking enterprise when he first started carving in bone and antlers; that idea came to him later.

"I was up in northern California and we used to do a lot of driving around in the back country," he said. "And one day, I found this pile of antlers and just started carving things out of them."

Dash used to make things for his friends as tokens or gifts, until it began to take up too much of his time, he said.

He started to charge for the things they wanted and before he knew it, he was doing it full time and making a living at it.

"It wasn't easy at first, but after my stuff started to sell and I actually started to make some real money, I decided to keep doing it," he said.

Since then, Dash has participated in numerous fairs in Pine and all over Arizona.

"I've been coming to this show about eight years now, and carving antlers for about 30 years," Dash said.

He said he has had to adjust his lifestyle to accommodate that of an artist, but he said it is fulfilling and he intends to continue as long as he can.

Dash said he is always coming up with new ideas for carvings.

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