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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 

 

Building Community Through Art

One goal of Sunnyshore Studio is to share the beauty of Camano Island one person at a time. Another goal is to build community through art. Both of these goals were met on the Camano Island Studio tour.

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It was not merely that 1,238 people found their way to the little studio far away on the south end of Camano Island. Here are the following stories of how community was built.

First, community was built through the invite to come back not just next year but throughout the year for our 2017-2018 Artistic Season. I (Jason) spent most of my time welcoming guests at the front door. I had lots of fun introducing myself as Artistic Director of The Sunnyshore Studio, sharing about the upcoming shows: My brother Jed’s solo show There and Back Again in July, the celebration of my great-grandmother’s, F.Y. Cory’s cultural legacy with the release of a Documentary telling the story of her life and also the release of a biography in October, our second annual Dorsey family Christmas show in November and December, and our first Vintage Watercolorists of Washington in March.

Art Shows

Community was also built by welcoming many newcomers to Camano Island. We met many new friends who have purchased homes, built homes, moved to Camano Island over the last couple of years. Being Islanders since 1947 our family enjoys welcoming folks to “our island” and having a place to share hospitality and art!

 

Dad and Mom are especially gracious and warm in welcoming newcomers and old friends!

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There is, of course, the fun connecting with longtime old friends. It is so great to have a space that we regularly invite community to be built, or old communities to enjoy.

Like Mom’s friends from Stanwood High School’s class of 1964. They meet once a month at the Cookie Mill in Stanwood for lunch and catching up; and they attend together all the openings at Sunnyshore Studio!

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It’s super fun for me to see old classmates like Brad and Heidi Hansen who are great supporters of the cultural life of Camano.

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Another way community is built is that Sunnyshore Studio is a connecting points to many people who live on the East Side or Seattle. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people who have a summer home on Camano but live in Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Woodinville, Bothel or Seattle. It’s also super fun to share the Studio with people from my congregation in Redmond. On Sunday Cindy joined me after church driving up to Camano, she stayed for the family dinner after the show was over.

 

Community will also be built at the many upcoming workshops and classes that are going to be offered. Many people are interested in taking classes/workshops from my dad. And there was lots of interests in Jed’s July and October workshops too. Classes and workshops are great ways of not only encouraging creativity but also nurturing community!

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There’s at least one more way that community was built over the last two weekends at Sunnyshore Studio. Each person that buys a painting has a connection back to the artist, to our family of artists, and a story to share. People who buy local art are not only supporting the local economy, but now have a tie to that artist.

 

Here is a story of one of those ties.

When I was standing at the front door welcoming guests a young woman came up to me. She introduced herself, shared that she had begun attending Western Baptist College (now Corban University) in 1991, the year I graduated from there, and had purchased two of my paintings during a show I had there to help raise money for my girlfriend, Jenny’s tuition. She bought one of the paintings for her grandfather who was dying, and who in fact died later that year. The painting was of the famous kite festival at Lincoln City, OR with the Sea Gypsy Motel in the background. Her grandfather had loved that beach and taken his family there every year. She shared with me that she had gotten her first kite there.

And so even though her grandfather wasn’t able to visit the beach he loved, she was able to bring the beach to him.

She has recently moved to the Warm Beach Area. When she saw my name on the list of Studios for the Mother’s Day Studio Tour she had to come and introduce herself and share her story:  tie of community through art.

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Finally, community is built through Jenny Dorsey, a master community builder. Not only is she organized, the administrator of the community, and not only does she have a fabulous eye for creating and collaging space…

 

she is an amazing weaver of community.

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