A woman in a folded shift -- a cloth allowing free movement -- stands with one knee drawn up and her arms held bent and wide above her head. She dances, limber, long-boned, with serene and decisive look.
The Pittsfield Garden Tour has given the city a present: a 6-foot-tall dancing woman in bronze on a 7-foot-tall ring. She will exult in the new Town common, at one with its design of circles within circles like planets orbiting the sun.
Sue Langman and Anne Pasko, co-founders of the Pittsfield Garden Tour, helped to choose and commission this work from Carol Gold of Fairfax, Calif., a nationally known sculptor born in the Berkshires.
In both their honor, John Kinkade, executive director of the National Sculptor's Guild, will speak tonight at 7 at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts.
Gold grew up in South County, on a dairy farm on the Clayton-Mill River Road.
"I worked on the fields and rode my horse on miles and miles of dirt roads," she said, "and when I was old enough I drove to Tanglewood every Wednesday night to hear chamber music."
She loves giving work to a city, to the public.
"It adds beauty to the town," she said, "and to the natural landscape."
And still more she loves giving work to this city -- and saying thank you to the county that nourished her.
A dancing woman fits at the heart of this town. Public art says visibly that people care for this place and celebrate it, Pasko said.
The city, she and Langman emphasized, has given no contribution. This is a gift.
"There is no public money in this," Pasko affirmed.
The garden tour, its silent auctions and benefits, a few donations from local banks, and the Berkshire Taconic Foundation have collected all of the funds they needed -- nearly $90,000, Pasko said. The garden tour committee has not even asked for a cultural grant.
The tour committee want to honor the people of the city, she said, and all they are capable of, and the economic development taking hold here, and the people coming to see the the city's vibrancy.
The city is turning itself around, Gold agreed, and she is happy to be part of it.
"There's so much culture here," she said. "I do a lot of dancing figures, because I like to dance and I love music."
She feels joy in the dance.
"For me, the world is in such a mess right now, I see my work as an antidote," she said. "We need joy in the world.
The dancing woman will take her place on the common on Friday, but the garden tour committee will veil her for a week, and then unveil her on Saturday, Oct.12, at 3 p.m. with a party after the last farmers market of the season, which will close at 1. Gold's sister, Alice Spatz, who lives in Lanesborough, will perform with her Berkshire folk group, Wintergreen. Gold's brother, Jim Rosenstein, lives in Lenox.
The tour committee wanted an artist with roots in the Berkshires, and they warmed naturally to her work.
She has created a work aware of its physical surroundings, Langman said, and brimming with vitality.
Gold sculpted the original small figure in wax. Wax is light, she explained, and allows her to work with flattish forms that would not hold in clay. Her figures balance carefully. The bronze woman coming to the Berkshires stands on one arched foor.
"You can't balance a dancing clay figure like that," she said. "Clay is grounded. I like my pieces to be light." Then she built a full-sized figure in clay over a supporting structure, an armature. (A solid clay figure 7 feet tall would be too heavy to work with, she said, and the armature gives the clay a structure, like a skeleton.) A mold is made from this figure, and liquid bronze poured into the mold. =A0 She began sculpting in wax when she ran her own bronze foundry for a dozen years outside San Francisco. She and a fellow artist established the foundry together.
"We built it," she said, "from nuts and bolts out of cans, and found equipment. It was a learning experience for both of us."
She revelled in it.
"I could do what I wanted," she said. "I could control the finished product."
And it gave her a feel for what her materials will do, what bronze will do that clay or stone will not, that she has found invaluable in her work since.
For a larger work like Pittsfield's bronze woman, she will still go to the foundry she uses now, in Colorado, to see to the positioning. It takes a hoist and fork lifts to move her dancer.
"We went to Denver to see this process," Pasko said.
She felt awed by Gold's energy, to see her climbing up and down ladders and working long hours.
"I'm delighted to be able to do this for Pittsfield," Gold said. "This is a coming home."