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.
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!
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 .
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.
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