James Goodreau and his partner Kevin Pawlak say moving from Phoenix to Tucson more than a decade ago was a blessing for both of them.

Their passion for collecting vintage Mexican folk art brought them to the Old Pueblo.

In 2012 they opened Arte de la Vida (Art of Life) near Tucson Boulevard and Broadway, a shop that houses their art collection and brings in customers from around the world. They expanded to take over more space in 2015.

The art comes from all regions and corners of Mexico and other countries south of the border. Religion and history are on display from floor to ceiling.

Goodreau and Pawlak say the shops walls are as full as the ones in their home.

You can almost feel the peoples touch, Goodreau said of the style of art.

Pawlak referenced a saying in Mexico: Color is free, so why not use it? They also say vintage pieces have a uniqueness to them that more modern, often mass-produced pieces lack.

Being a collector, youre always on the hunt for that next piece. That next rare find, said Pawlak. We just buy stuff we like. And we find that will be a good fit for the shop.

Goodreau and Pawlak say they opened Arte de la Vida to start selling some pieces, to share them with the community and expand their own collection.

They look for pieces in Southern Arizona and even travel as far as Guatemala.

You get people that would come in, and just immediately say Oh my Gosh, this reminds me of Nogales 20 years ago, Pawlak recalled. Some people are almost in tears over it, because its nostalgia for them Youre buying a piece of history.

Its not only the art inspires that inspires Goodreau and Pawlak its also the people in Tucson. They say they almost moved to another Southwest city to build their collection before choosing Tucson, because the people are more accepting and welcoming. Some even donate their rare items to the Arte de la Vida collection.

Were really glad weve made the move, said Pawlak.

We get the most wonderful people in here, Goodreau added.

And they continue to get more people. They say 2023 was the stores best year for business so far, and Gem Show season brings in a new wave of customers every year.