Monday, May 9, 2011

Lorrie Fredette and Cora Jane Glasser: Art Buddy Check In

 Several years ago, I reconnected with an old friend and we began a month by month art date. We would make an appointment, a list/agenda and then  go over it on that day. After a few years the list became a way for both of us to see what we had learned and  accomplished.

Cora's studio
Inside Lorrie's studio

When I heard that artists Cora Jane Glasser  and Lorrie Fredette  have been doing a similar  date which  they call  "Art Buddy Check-in" for 11 years, I decided to ask them some questions.

When and how did your weekly check-in begin?
The exchange Cora and I have shared over 11 plus years has been similar to letter writing. It has always been from the individual, the I. Yet, the responses you’ll be reading is a first. It is primarily written, by Cora in a we format….a joint perspective. We approached the response to your questions as we would with our ABCi (Art Buddy Check-in). We each wrote our responses and then emailed them to the other. We didn’t read the other’s response until after we had written and emailed our own. It didn’t surprise us that they were practically mirror images. You will find just four isolated responses from us as individuals. We felt that they were of particular importance and should be identified.

It was between 11 and 12 years ago. We had met at least a year before in a class we were both taking at the Art Students League. We gravitated towards each other.

Cora – I recall receiving a call from her - I can picture exactly where I was standing in my apartment- asking if I would be her art buddy. The idea was that we would commit to exchanging weekly goals for ourselves via email on a specific day each week and we picked Monday. I recall being very flattered and excited. I had started my art career rather late in life and saw Lorrie, though younger, as more advanced and experienced.

What was the initial purpose? And how has it changed over the years?
The purpose was to hold us accountable to ourselves and to each other for staying focused on identifiable goals that would advance our studio practices. Over the years we have incorporated longer-term goals using an annual check-in around the New Year. We have also gotten more specific on a week-to-week basis as we have both taken on projects and opportunities that require very carefully defined attention. So it has been both an enlarging and a narrowing of focus. Most importantly, we have come to be true friends, which enables us to provide support and guidance to each other. The range of support spans our practices as well as our personal lives and the constant balancing act between them. We have also expanded our outreach to one another so that if we need to run something by the other at any time we do so. One of the sweetest changes is the occasional joyous phone call to give or receive good news.

Talk a little about the structure of the call.
We don't really set agendas. Each of us is free to set forth our goals for the coming week however we choose. We have fallen into a basic email format of topics, almost always starting with "Studio". The idea there is to hold us accountable for as much studio time as possible under whatever circumstances exist at the time. The rest can be other art activities planned for the week such as attending an opening; clerical tasks like cleaning off desks, or updating mailing lists; preparing for a specific project or exhibit at whatever stage it might be. There are no limitations and our lists do not have to match each others- they just have to make sense for each of us.

Lorrie – Two of the organic happenings in our format is that we each email back responses to what the other has sent and there are mid-week check-ins. The responses are similar to having a physical conversation offering ideas, support and motivation. The mid-week checks, for me, are a way of staying on tracking by getting some additional verbal support either through problem solving or cheering.

You are welcome to give examples and talk about some of the topics.

We each start off discussing our studio time. It has ALWAYS been in our exchange and IS the most important part. The remainder is stating a goal and listing the actions.

Lorrie - For example, I've pasted a section from my check-in for the week of 4/18/11

To Wax Natural:
1. Look at the drawings I have for the show.
2. Consider making a few more for the show. How many?

A bunch of other things….
1. Schedule visit with Ani & then visit with her!
2. Read FN: VA catalog
3. WSW solo show
4. Go through desk stuff….
5. Clean and organize email boxes
6. Lisa Pressman’s blog

Cora from the same week: and here is a sample of mine from the same week:

My goal is to go on Saturday start working on tiny paper planes. I am promising myself at least 4 solid hours. I think once I get the rhythm I can knock them off pretty fast. My initial goal will be 8 and then who knows.


· work on Vertical Response ad for the booth
· make sure to add certain people from TEC to the mailing list for the fair
· review video for final edit
· work on group of paintings to take (plan on little or no works on paper-combo of older panels based on ruins and earlier group of construction paintings)
· work on list of things we need for installation
· work on list of things we need for booth


· schedule breakfast with Audrey this or next week
· connect with Lorrie about ABCi interview for Lisa
· Thursday I am going to Philly for the Eastern State Pen. artist orientation tour!

How has it changed each one of you? your work, promotion, confidence etc.
This is such a huge question. I believe that it has not changed us but it has contributed greatly to each of us developing as artists along our own paths. Growth would be more accurate than change. That in turn provides confidence, which in turn helps with self-promotion.

Have you ever had a break or a halt and then restructured?
Not really. Of course if one of us is going on vacation or is occupied with a project or a family emergency we might skip a week every now and again but it is very rare. We have always stuck to Monday as our day, but sometimes we will send the email on Sunday, or Tuesday. We are rarely later than 2 days and since we do this independently rather than as a meeting we do what works for each of us and we give each other whatever slack we each need.

How do you separate (or do you?) the close friendship that you have and the weekly check in.
It is impossible to separate the two and that fact has enhanced both. We will often add a personal note as an introductory paragraph. However, we are pretty rigorous in keeping it as an Art Buddy Check-in and try to talk to each other and see each periodically about more personal matters.

Thanks to Lorrie and Cora for sharing the details of  their ABCI and here is their work:

Lorrie Fredette
My sculptures and drawings are inspired by medical and environmental news stories pulled from today's headlines and historical sources. Upon choosing an area of focus, such as the swine, avian and Spanish flus, or the increased incidence of poison ivy with the growth of greenhouse gases, I set upon a rigorous course of research, gathering images which I then alter, vet and reject through an elaborate system designed to completely subvert and distort any likeness to the original source.

Recent and Current Exhibitions:
An Exchange with Sol LeWitt, Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA .
Article for An Exchange with Sol LeWitt.  
TO WAX NATURAL at the Albany Center Gallery, Albany, NY .

ENCAUSTIC WITH A TEXTILE SENSIBILITY at the Kimball Art Center, Park City, UT.
THE GREAT SILENCE at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA. 
PROPER LIMITS at Women's Studio Workshop, Rosendale, NY. 
CONFLUENCE at the Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg, FL.

Extracting (in) formation, detail   Beeswax, tree resin, muslin, brass, nylon line
9'3" H x 9'3" W x 15' D
© 2010

 Extracting (in) formation Beeswax, tree resin, muslin, brass, nylon line
9'3" H x 9'3" W x 15' D
© 2010

There are 3 images attached, from most recent (Query) to a construction site painting (Nothing Sacred) to an older archeological site painting (Casa Grande). Details of each below.

I turned out a new body of work between 2009 and 2011 called "Query" which was recently the subject of a solo show in a Philadelphia gallery. The work grew out of an interest in urban construction sites, that in turn grew out of an interest in archeological ruins. This trajectory has taken me on a ride between complex layering and minimalized form. I am looking for ways to unite these aspects. A solo exhibit at the end of May in an architect's office seems to be offering me that opportunity. I have recently shown work spanning archeological and construction based work at the Affordable Art Fair in NYC and will continue to show in venues compatible with my work as it develops further.

When not in the studio I spend much of my time these days running a decades old family business in New York City. It involves glass and mirror installation and is considered a construction trade - not inconsistent with my studio practice.

Query (in black, #2), 2009
Beeswax & oil on Homasote on wood
36 inches 18 inches (2 parts)

Nothing Sacred, 2007
Beeswax, oil & ink on Homasote
38 inches x 35 inches (16 parts)

Casa Grande, 2005
Beeswax & oil on wood 
14 inches x 33 inches (triptych)


Caryl said...

Fascinated by your art work, especially the beeswax. Please pop in to my blog when you have some time.

Tamar said...

What a terrific post Lisa. It was great to read about the support the Cora and Lorrie provide for one another.

Karen Freedman said...

I love this concept! I also admire and envy the "relationship" that Lorrie and Cora have grown since the inception of their Check-in. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Joanne Mattera said...

Terrific post on a great concept. I say this as a list-maker and as a left-brain thinker who maintains an on-going conversation with my right-brain self (or vice versa). Thanks Lisa, Cora and Lorrie.

Rhonda Schaller said...

This is great - love the work. And of course, love the concept. Years ago we brought in a speaker to SVA who talked about artbuddies - and I thought, what a great idea! Have been re-reading the artists way and Julia talks about it too.

Just love it when artists actually put into practice these great inspired impulses. Where would we be if not for eachother? You guys are great. Great work.