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K.K. Cherry

Lauren Glendenning
Dominique TaylorK.K. Cherry, one of Vail's pioneers, enjoys the view of Vail Mountain from her East Vail home.
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K.K. Cherry’s heart is in Vail. She came here in 1966 after growing up in Denver. Cherry, 63, got married here and moved to the Midwest with her husband to raise her children. But her heart never left, so she returned about 10 years ago. She was one of the original “Gorsuch girls” ” girls who worked at the famous Gorsuch ski shop in Vail Village. She took pride in her job and considered herself a Vail ambassador of sorts. She later went on to start a children’s outdoor camp in 1967.

Now, as a newfound artist after her first grandchild’s birth, she paints in a basement room she converted into an art studio. Her inspiration: the mountains and the beautiful scenes in nature that she’s taken in throughout the years, and her experiences in Vail that have shaped who she is today.

I have the immediacy of walking out my door and as an artist, my soul is fed. Whatever I see here. Those little tiny minute pieces we have in every season; even the mud season I love. You see the silence of the woods. It’s a contagious spirit of good health and quality of life. The mountains are in the marrow of my bones. Mountains embrace you and I love that embrace. I can’t live without it.

I’ve always been an artist in my soul…I put all my art into mothering, to the point of maybe fault sometimes. I put everything I could into it. Once my first grandchild was born, I became transformed. I started creative writing and turned my basement into art studio. Within one year, I had created 133 pieces. The funny thing about art is you have to paint your soul. You don’t need teachers so much, maybe for some guidance, but you paint life’s experiences and what you deem most important, and that to me is nature.

My parents used to say, ‘what are you doing living in a place like that, that’s not reality…’

What is reality, is nature not reality? Where does culture start, but in nature. Everything is inspired by nature, and that’s what we have here.

Well, David and Renie Gorsuch were both members of the American Olympic Ski Team, and there was a lot of legend when they were first beginning. They opened the Gorsuch (ski) shop in Vail Village and the Gorsuch girls did everything. We were sales girls and models. I was in charge of all the displays in the store’s windows. People would think we were living mannequins. Our uniform was a shiny white blouse, a one-piece, bright red jumpsuit and a red, white and blue head scarf ” depicting the all-American spirit and the fact that both David and Renie were on the ski team. We all take a personal pride in knowing that we were a part of this. We were famous for being beautiful. We reflected the ultimate spirit of Vail, at least that’s what we thought. We were ambassadors of Vail; we were out there promoting it.

Today I see more greed than there was back then. Everyone knew everyone, and we all stood on common ground. We knew no socioeconomic differentiation. We all stood on the common ground of love and loyalty of the mountains. Today, there’s too many dollar signs; too many rules.

I miss the trust; the inherent trust that people had. The mountains bring that out in you; the goodness in people…if you ever want to see the history of Vail, look at my wedding album.

You can’t stop progress.

Want to see someone profiled as our High Country Character? E-mail editor@vailtrail.com, or call (970) 748-0049.


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