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The Day I Met Pipka

By Michele Johnson

Pipka's Gallery Sign
Pipka's Gallery Sign

I met Pipka on a cold blustery winter day. I flew from Kansas to Wisconsin, rented a car and slowly wound my way to the Door County peninsula where Pipka lived. There was little traffic and lots of snow, making each picturesque village a magical postcard. To this day, one scene in particular has stayed in my mind; as I rounded a bend, there before me was Ephraim with its two church steeples rising above the snow-covered village that overlooks Lake Michigan. It was breathtaking!

As I made my way to Sister Bay and found Pipka’s Gallery, I was struck by the quaintness of Pipka’s shop, and the wonderful welcoming Santa sign out front. I parked the car, walked up the curved path and opened the door. There, to greet me, lining the entire stairway, were dozens of Pipka’s hand painted Santas, smiles on their faces, wearing beautiful coats and carrying sacks of toys. It was like being in a fairy tale. What a joy! Without a moment's hesitation, I knew I wanted to represent Pipka’s beautiful work.

As Pipka came to welcome me with a big hug, I knew instantly we’d be best friends forever. That day, we talked and talked. Pipka told me the stories and memories behind each Santa that inspired her designs and reflected old world traditions as well as her heritage. Her rich stories made each Santa come alive.

That day changed my life in so many incredible exciting ways and began a long, prosperous relationship with a passionate, creative artist, Pipka.


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