I met Kim some time ago at a craft sale over a cup of tea and right away she seemed to be a “kindred spirit”. Our visit was too short and we soon parted with plans to see one another, but as we don’t live nearby, the next time I saw her was at a gallery show featuring her and other artists at Maria Wulf's Pig Barn Gallery. She had told me of her work which she described as collage art using photographs combined with art of various mediums as well as textiles. Knowing Kim I knew it had to be good and I was not disappointed!
Just as I had thought, each of her pieces drew me in just like seeing Van Gogh's work for the first time. I had to spend much time with each piece as they were to be experienced not just viewed. I was especially taken with a piece entitled, You Know the Song. I sat down the day after this gallery show and wrote her a personal email telling her of my thoughts and feelings that related to this picture.
I wrote to Kim, “I didn’t tell you, but I have a “thing” for ballet. I took ballet when I was a child and used to use the front porch, cement though it was, for my stage. Perhaps that is why my ballerina years were short lived and not because of the concrete…but rather due to the decreased value to my parent’s home, as I had little dancing talent and my stage was in such public view?"
I went on to tell her that it was likely revenge against my parents for recognizing my lack of talent and cutting my dance education short, that I took ballet again in my twenties, and starred in a local production of the Nutcracker as one of "the backdrop guests" at Clara’s Christmas party. I forgot to tell her at the time that an old close family friend brought me a single rose to celebrate my debut, and joked about me not having a private dressing room as he told me that he thought I was "the prima ballerina star" and so he gave it to me in-person after my performance.
My parents, shortly thereafter gave me a lovely little hand painted shadow box, with a blue velvet lining in which to hang my toe shoes. My mother had read me the story of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes when I was a child. It was the story of young female bunny who found herself with 21 children instead of fulfilling her life-long dream of being an Easter bunny. But when her children were old enough to take care of their home and all that needed to be done, she went to fulfill her dream of being one of the five Easter bunnies and was selected as she had shown great wisdom in raising her children well. I will not give away the entire story, for it is special and deserves to be read, except to say that her special gold shoes, worn during her important Easter delivery, were ceremoniously hung up in her little home afterwards. My parents had no way of knowing that I would soon have ankle instability and have to hang up my shoes as well. For years, my pink satin toe shoes were framed and hung just as ceremoniously as The Country Bunny's little gold shoes.
I went on to share with Kim that I still do my ballet exercises in the pool at Castleton where the water helps me el-e-vay (my French is as limited as my ballet talent) and then told her that one of my favorite ballets is a Beatrix Potter ballet,done by a London ballet group featuring all of her characters dancing! The costumes are as wonderful as the dances. Watching Jemima Puddleduck waddle and Jeremy Fisher sloshing through his house makes me come right off my sofa and dance again in my living room! I have been known to play it's VHS tape for my child guests and invite them to dance with me. I have never played it for adult guests and would quite deny knowing any part of it if I did, especially Jemima Puddleduck’s waddle! I knew I could share this with Kim as she would understand, being the creator of a ballerina pug, why not me, no matter my age and condition!
Only a few years ago, I found myself keeping my mother company in a nursing home. This home had bars along the walls to help the teetery patients walk, but one resident simply stood holding onto it for a long while every day. And in my mind, I imagined ballet music piped in along with some full length mirrors added to the walls and me joining her at the bar! ...So pugs doing ballet…why not?! Bring them on!! I am glad that some one else has a great imagination!!
You can imagine my surprise when one day in the mail I found a large padded envelope with a matted print of You know the Song, along with a Vermont Life Magazine featuring Kim’s work. I am going to have to clean out my basement to find my infamous toe shoes in their shadow box along with the picture of me in my first recital dress to hang next to it. In my mind I will see its soft yellow fabric though the picture is in black and white and shades of gray!
This blog is not about my dancing career, but rather about my friend, Kim Gifford and her work that will transport you, as all fine artwork does, into the wonderful space between reality and the place in your heart where your innermost dreams reside. Her work is delightful! Don’t miss visiting her website, and seeing where her pictures take you! Thank you Kim and good luck in winning the December Common Thread Give-Away!!