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The Grunt and Groan Art Club

I personally don’t remember not having my wonderful Grandma Meetsy  (Grandma Meetsy = nationally known illustrator, comic strip artist, Fanny Y. Cory) living across the road and down a lane from our Camano Island farm home.   I was the youngest of her daughter, Sayre’s, four children.

Dr. D, Bob Cooney, Mar D, Carol, FYC, Bud, Rob, Ted, Kay, Jean, Ann

Family picture with Fanny’s daughter, Sayre Dodgson’s, and son, Bob Cooney’s, and their children at the Dodgson farm on Camano Island. Ann Cory Dorsey is the little girl in the white dress, bottom right. Margaret Day  is standing third from the left in the back row. Fanny Y. Cory is at the top, far right. 

I also don’t remember there NOT being a “Grunt and Groan Art Club” but it was something that came to be after our grandma moved near us from her Montana ranch.   I grew up with it being an important part of our lives!

Meetsy's pictures I own, Robert scanned 007

Painting of a Grunt and Groan Art Club Member fast at work by Fanny Y. Cory

My older sister, Margaret Day, recalled her memories of the club’s early days, and how it came to be,  in a letter to her granddaughter, Amanda Day.  I could not say it better and being the youngest, I do not even know all these early details – and so I will share my sister’s story.

Margaret wrote, “Whenever we went over to her (Grandma Meetsy’s) house to visit,  we would sit around the big round oak table… which looked out on a lovely view of Puget sound.  There were always watercolor sets, brushes and Strathmore board small pieces sitting out and while we visited, we’d paint the view we saw.  We’d ask each other how we were doing on the sky, tree, sound, mountains and usually the only answer would be a congenial grunt ‘um hah!’”.  Or, as Margaret continued,  “One of the artists would exclaim over a less than perfect effect with a low ‘oh no!’ groan.”

Hence came the “birth of the ‘Grunt and Groan Club’” of which she was a charter member.  Of course, Meetsy and her daughter, Sayre, were the high officers.  My brothers Bud and Robert were probably charter members too .

Grunt and Groan Art Club postcard, Mar 4, 1957, Meetsy to Margaret resized b

A letter from Fanny Y. Cory to Margaret when she was at Nursing School in Chicago keeping her informed of the latest on the Grunt and Groan Art Club. 

However, personally as the youngest sibling, I remember worrying about painting something worthy enough to get myself into actual membership.  As I recall, I felt that I had achieved standing in the club with a piece I considered an exceptionally good art effort when I was about 12!

One thing about this art club, it was for fun.  It was not an instructional time at all.  I only remember two things about art that my Grandma ever told me all the years I knew her.  I treasure them like gold!

Some of Meetsy’s paintings during the “Grunt and Groan” sessions.

The club was resurrected many years later at my mother’s home in Stanwood.  Again young artists gathered around the same oak table.  This time it had been carefully covered with plastic tablecloths and on a certain day of the week for some months they all practiced painting with acrylic.

My mom, Sayre, now in her late 90’s was a happy observer, Margaret and I joined right into the fun one more time.  The youngsters were mainly Margaret’s grandchildren.  It ended up, some days at different times, there were maybe 9 of them who enjoyed this extra time of community art.  We older members gave some guidelines to the younger members, and we all did the proper amount of “grunting and groaning” as we attempted our great artist endeavors !

Once in a while, my husband, artist Jack Dorsey, stopped by and couldn’t resist giving an art pointer or two.  Unfortunately I can’t find photos of our larger group days together immersed in art – but did find photos of one day.

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Anyway, may the “Grunt and Groan Art Club” live on forever at least in heart, as young people are encouraged to just try their hand in this wonderful world of color, form, design, creativity called “art”.

by Ann Cory Dorsey in collaboration with Margaret Day 

 

FANNY, the artist who made America smile showings

Sunnyshore Studio is thrilled to share upcoming showings for our new documentary on artist Fanny Y. Cory. This is a powerful, poignant film about a woman who had many sadnesses, but overcame them. By the age of 19 she had broken into the “man’s world” of illustrating in New York City, and was one of the top illustrators in the nation.

A newspaper article once quoted her. “I’ve always had hard times” she [Fanny] said, “but I’ve always enjoyed them.”  “That pretty much sums up her life” her grandson Robert Dodgson says on the documentary.

Sunnyshore Studio, Camano Island, Saturday, October 14th

The first public showing of Fanny, the artist who made America smile is Saturday, October 14th at Sunnyshore Studio (2803 S.E. Camano Drive, Camano Island, WA). It will be shown at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm and 5:00pm.

Sunnyshore Opening Poster

The Day Brothers will be playing a song in Tribute of their great grandmother before each showing of the film on Saturday the 14th.

The Day Bros Cropped Tractor

Floyd-Norgaard Cultural Center, Stanwood: Sunday, October 15th

We will show the film at the History and Hors d’oeurves program at the Floyd-Norgaard Cultural Center (27130 102nd Ave NW, Stanwood, WA) on Sunday, October 15th. Come by for Hors d’oeuvres at 4:30pm and enjoy the Day Brothers bluegrass. At 5:00pm there will be a short presentation by Ann Cory Dodgson (granddaughter of Fanny Y. Cory) and then the showing of the film.

H & H Poster

Riverpark Apartments, Redmond, WA: Monday, October 16th

There will be a third showing of the film on Monday, October 16th at the Riverpark Apartments (15791 Bear Creek Parkway, Redmond, WA). The doors of the lounge and theater will open at 7:00pm. Ann Cory Dorsey will read from her grandmother Fanny’s classic Fairy Alphabet children’s book at 7:30. The film will be shown at 8:00pm.

To enter Riverpark Apartments park in the main garage next to the Hyatt House Hotel (Riverpark Apartments are on top of the garage). Go to Elevator A. There will be a host to assist you in getting to the second floor lounge and theater.

Riverpark Poster - Final

We are very excited to share Fanny’s remarkable story with a wider audience through this film.

Special thanks go to Robert Dodgson who shared so much amazing historical video footage from so many years ago.

Robert - winsong 2

We also want to thank Ann Dorsey who provided most of the photographs we used in the documentary and who has preserved the memory of Fanny so well through her story-telling. Ann also gets the distinction for coming up with the title of this movie. Here’s an example of footage we did not end up using…but could have.

We also want to thank the grandsons and granddaughters of Fanny – Robert Dodgson, Bud Dodgson, Margaret Day, and Ann Cory Dorsey – for telling their stories and passing on Fanny’s legacy to the next generation. It was so sweet to see the precious memories of the past flow from your hearts and onto the screen!

Grandkids swim at lake Sewell, Robert, Bud, Margaret, Ted Cooney

A special thanks also must go to the Day Brothers who wrote a beautiful song of Tribute to Fanny. David Day caught the vision for this project early on and we are so thankful for his enthusiastic support.

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Chris Wyatt, who is a gifted filmmaker, is serving as the artistic editor of the product. The final outcome – at least what is good in it – is chiefly due to his labors.

Chris Wyatt

Finally, a shout out has to go to Julian Dorsey who spent so much of his time this summer shooting and organizing video footage. Thanks for all you did to make this project happen!

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As the Director of Fanny, the artist who made America smile, I’m honored to weave this story together, a story with so much good, beauty, grace, and smile.

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Showcase of Fanny Y. Cory one month from today… ready or not!

One month from today we will showcase the life and cultural legacy of Fanny Y. Cory whether we are ready to do so or not. Here are a list of the jobs still to be done.

Can we do it?

Complete Fanny: The Artist who made America smile Documentary

We are creating a documentary movie that tells the story of Fanny Y. Cory titled “Fanny: The Artist who made America smile.” My son Julian and I shot footage in Montana this summer, and we interviewed the four grandchildren of Fanny. We have also collected a lot of old video and photographs. Now comes the task of weaving the footage and interviews and photos into the compelling story that Fanny’s life is.

Here’s an example of some of the raw footage that we have.

(1) footage of the old studio, bunkhouse and windmill that was moved to higher ground in 1952 when the water of Lake Sewell was raised which left the old ranch completely under water.

(2) Footage of a morning sunrise over Canyon Ferry Lake (once called Lake Sewell).

(3) Footage of our interview with Amanda, Curator of Collections at the Montana Museum, in the vault where Fanny’s original Fairy Alphabet paintings are stored.

My friend Chris Wyatt, who is a film critique and film maker has promised to provide some consulting on pulling together the final product. But there is a lot of work still to go. Can we do it?

Release of a new biography of Fanny titled, Queen of Montana Beach: the story of artist Fanny Y. Cory by Toni McCarty.

The least of our problems is picking up the 600 copies of the book on my day off, Monday, October 2nd. The much bigger job before me is arranging two book signings in the Seattle area. I’m happy to say one is nailed down in Redmond on Monday, October 16th, and will include a showing of the documentary film. Besides this there is setting up an account on Amazon as an individual seller, nailing the on-line pre-release of the book on October 1st, and all the other promotion that will help us sell all 600 copies before the end of the year.

Queen Cover - FINAL

Preparing the Display

Because this is a showcase of the life and cultural legacy of Fanny, there is a lot of work still to be done to create a visual showcase telling her story through photographs, timelines, newspaper articles, etc. There are letters to go through, many magazine articles and newspaper clippings to present, all with the goal of telling the story of this amazing woman. Besides all of that there are 24 fairy prints to frame.

And if that was not enough…

Hanging the Show

We have to collect the art and hang the show. This is where Jenny the “collager” shines. But she will have her work cut out for her.

She will find a way to showcase the 24 paintings of the Fairy Alphabet.

Fanny Y. Cory, Daffodils

She will display the over 40 books that Fanny illustrated. She will showcase “Sonny” which was a nationally syndicated daily cartoon that ran in newspapers all over the country – and world – for 35 years,

and “Little Miss Muffet”, another syndicated cartoon that was King Syndicate’s rival to “Little Orphan Annie.”

Little Miss Muffet by Fanny Y Cory, King Features Syndicate b

She will find a way to show the beautiful paintings of Fanny like this one of a rose.

Cottage Roses by FYC

She will display the many magazine covers and illustrations that Fanny’s art was featured in like these.

And also show the sweet illustrations of Fairies that Fanny made in her late years. They show Fanny’s decline eyesight and less control of the brush that came in her 80’s, but still they sparkle with her vivid imagination and love of beauty.

And if that was not all, Jenny will find a way to demonstrate many of the hundreds of paintings that Fanny did looking out her window on the southwest side of Camano Island, onto Saratoga passage and the Olympic Mountains beyond. These paintings catch the changing seasons that Fanny witnessed, and show the overflow of her creativity.

It will be in short, an incredibly rich and strikingly beautiful show.

Meetsy's pictures I own, Robert scanned 020

Those who are able to visit Sunnyshore Studio on Saturday, October 14th and October 21st, will be treated to an amazing display of creativity, beauty and imagination that was Fanny Y. Cory!

Can we pull it off? By God’s grace, I hope we can!

Dear Meetsy by Megan Weidler

Dear Meetsy,

As a girl, when I didn’t know what to do or where to go to find peace, I would go sit on the sand cliffs and look out over the great waters of Puget Sound. The music of the waters lapping at the shore would quiet my heart. When I close my eyes, I can still see across the waters to the distant shore and forested peaks of Whidbey Island rising up to the sky.

FYC enjoying morning at Montana Beach a.jpg

Can you guess where I was? I was at Montana Beach, your home. My parents Robert and Sandy moved there from their Seattle houseboat on Lake Union a year after you passed away. My sister Heather, who you held as a baby, was two years old then. As I was born in 1974, you and I never met.

Yet, throughout my life, I’ve heard stories of you from Grandma Sayre (your daughter) and my parents. As long as I can remember, I’ve always known you were my great grandma. Just recently I heard the lilt of your voice for the first time. It was on a voice recording Dad had made. You were telling stories about your early years in Montana as a girl and time in New York City. I feel like I know you now, so I wanted to write to tell you a little bit about me, my favorite memories from Montana Beach, and your legacy in my family.

FYC ranch, Margaret Dodgson

In 1976, Mom and Dad formed a corporation called F. Y. Cory Publishers to preserve your Fairy Alphabet watercolors as a set and endeavor to publish them as a book. Grandma Sayre and Uncle Bob (your son) also joined the corporation with their spouses Tom and Carol.

When I was around three years old, we invited all of our local dearies to Montana Beach and took pictures. We got a great portrait of Grandma Sayre and Grandpa Tom. Family photos were taken for each of their kids (your grandkids): Margaret, Bud, Dad, and Ann. There was even a photograph taken of all sixteen of us grandkids (your great grandchildren) on the steps of the cottage. Looking back on it now, I realize this took place around 1977, one hundred years after you were born in Waukegan, Illinois.

Derek 3

Over the years, F. Y. Cory Publishers had cards and prints made from your Fairy Alphabet paintings which adorned the walls of our cottage and filled my young heart with wonder. I always thought “B” for Baby looked like me trying to put on my socks. Since I was five years old, my favorite has been “L” for Lullaby. As you wrote in the accompanying rhyme, “L is for Lullaby the robin sings, while the old gray spider the hammock swings.”

During Summer, I would spend as much time as possible down at the beach with my parents, sister, or cousin April. It reminds me of the rhyme you wrote for “N” of your Fairy Alphabet. “N is for Nymph, who lives by the sea, where the waves go ‘boom’ and the gulls go ‘skee.’” I remember sunning myself in the sandy slopes and then racing to cool off in the icy waters.

On rare and most treasured occasions, Dad set up his Marx electric train set on the cottage living room floor. He would tell how you gave it to him and Bud for Christmas when they were boys. I would watch with amazement at the working front light and how it sparked as it went flying around the metal track. He even showed me how to work the transformer to make the train go forward and backwards.

In our family, there is a most famous tree that stands tall as a legend. In your seventies, fresh from your ranch life in Montana, you decided a particular tree on your Camano Island property needed to be cut down. So, you set your ax at the base of the tree. Each time you walked by the tree to your garage or back to your cottage, you took a single swing at the tree trunk. Eventually, you felled the tree. I remember this story from time to time when there is a daunting task before me and smile.

Great Grandma, you and I were born almost 100 years apart and forty-three years have passed since my birth. So much has happened. In 1986, my family moved from Montana Beach to a home in Bothell, Washington where my parents still happily reside. F. Y. Cory Publishers successfully published your Fairy Alphabet book in 1991 and again in 2011.  What a labor of love it has been for my parents to preserve and share your artwork with the world for these past 41 years.

fairies 8

Lord Jesus gave me a strong and kind husband named John in 2008, just over nine years ago now. We have a seven-year-old son named Johnny who knows you are his great great grandma.  He also very much enjoys that Marx electric train set on the rare and treasured occasions we have played with it.

I miss you.

Love,

Megan

Written by Megan Dodgson Weidler for her Great Grandma Fanny “Meetsy” Cory Cooney