Hello everyone, welcome back to another edition of Nancy's World.
This time around, we're talking about friends. There are all types of friends: acquaintances, situational buddies, inspiring figures, but the best kind are old friends. These are the people you somehow find yourself with in formative times. You share laughter, love, and experiences with them. They inspire, support, and help you to grow. They stick in your mind while life goes rolling on and when you finally reunite after some time passes- There's nothing quite like it.
Back in September/October, a lot of things happened over the course of a couple of weeks. Let's start with the last weekend in September.
Nancy went down to Kansas City, to have a girls' weekend with her close friends from college: Julie Cohn, Andy Crane, Cary Esser, and Kris Peterson. The five friends hadn't all been in the same place at the same time in decades! They met in school at the Kansas City Art Institute. Nancy doesn't remember exactly where she met everyone, but she definitely remembers that she met Andy in line at registration and met Cary at the dorms. Sophomore year, they lived in an apartment together and soon after they moved into a house. Andy and Julie would also live in that house as well. That house is still standing. Back in the day, with each girl paying $44, the 3 bedroom house was a total of $132 to rent.
That weekend was like they were home again. Maybe not in the old house, but with each other. They rented an Air BNB in KC, MO and prior to, they sent each other emails planning their weekend: What groceries to buy, what dinners they were going to make, which places they wished to revisit, etc.
One thing that wasn't planned well, though, was their wardrobe. Nancy, Kris, Julie, and Andy all wound up having to borrow jackets, vests, etc, from Cary, who lives and works in KC as a Professor and Chair of the Ceramics Department at KCAI.
Now that the girls were appropriately dressed for the crisp fall weather, they were ready to spend the rest of their weekend enjoying each other's company.
Over the course of two days, the five women covered a lot of ground in this "homecoming" of sorts. They found themselves getting sucked into a "technological rabbit-hole" on social media. It's almost standard in this day and age to look back and play a game of "Where Are They Now". The ladies did their fair share of getting stuck on their phones; looking up old friends or past flames and it was a gas!
There was also plenty of food to be had: Cary(who has a very high metabolism) made her famous clam spaghetti at her house one night and they ate Kansas City BBQ while trotting around town one day. Nancy had been chasing the biscuits and gravy that the KCAI cafeteria made since college, so they went and got some from a diner they all (separately) frequented back in the day.
One of the most important aspects about this group of women is not just when they met and how long they've known each other- It is the respect they have for each other as artists. All of these women are devotees to art and the skills they learned in in school and they support the work they make.
- Cary Esser is a ceramics professor and artist. The ladies visited her ceramics studio on the trip.
- Julie Cohn makes beautiful jewelry inspired by nature.
- Kris Peterson works in design and studied sculpture in school.
- Andy Crane was a nursery school teacher for children with Autism for 8 yrs, but would come home and paint every night. She and her husband just sold their house, packed their things in storage and went out on a journey in their car to find their new home so they can just sit back and make art for a while. They recently found their house just a half an hour from Albuquerque in Placitas, NM
One other event that occurred while Nancy was with her friends that weekend was news of another inspiring figure in Nancy's life. The passing of the visionary gallerist and art dealer, Phyllis Kind, came to Nancy via a phone call one day in the kitchen of the Airbnb with her friends.
Nancy was in school at KCAI when Phyllis hit rockstar status in the art World as this bold, fiercely intelligent pioneer gallerist/ art dealer who introduced Outsider Art to the mainstream. She grew up in New York and later moved to Chicago where she met a group of artists called the "Hairy Who?". Those artists( Jim Nutt and Karl Wirsum) would later join another group of outstandingly influential painters "The Chicago Imagists", which also included the likes of Roger Brown and Ed Paschke. Those artists among those two groups are painters that Phyllis would later represent while Nancy was still in school.
Nancy met Phyllis through her friend Tommy Rubnitz (Tommy has since passed) who worked for Phyllis in New York. He called Nancy one day asking her if she was interested in nannying Kind's kids. Nancy replied, "No, I'm not looking after someone else's kids! I will drive over and look at all the art in her house, though!".
So, Nancy and her childhood friend Gilly drove to Oak Park to see this house. They walked in to see Rachel sitting on the stairs, peeking down like any curious kid would. Rachel's pose seemed to say, "Who's next? I don't think it's Mary Poppins." They heard Phyllis clamoring about in the kitchen, making 'guilty food'. Phyllis was gone so often that when she was home she would make tons of food to freeze for her children in the times she was out of town.
When the Kind's met Nancy they all quickly fell in love. Nancy, then, returned to the fresh West Rogers Park lease, unsigned it, and moved into the attic of the Kind household.
Of the four Kind children, Nancy looked after Debbie and Rachel (Gabe and John were already in college). Nancy lived with them and looked after them, although the girls would always laugh and say, "Well, we took care of her." Their time spent together sounded like a blast. They would go to the grocery store, IHOP, and take road trips to their house in Michigan and one time to Florida.
Although Kind was gone a lot due to her multiple galleries and iconic status in art, she was still a huge inspiration and mentor to Nancy as an artist and she will be remembered always as a spark that hit the art world with a fierce spirit and an eye that caught some of the most interesting and isolated artists of our time. Rest in power and peace, Phyills.
You know how sometimes when someone leaves this world, a new person walks in? Well, several days after the passing of Phyllis Kind, the Rosen's introduced a new light into the family. Charlie Ruby Rosen, was born on 10/10/18 at a healthy 8 pounds 3 ounces. She got her name from her big sister, Lily, who would walk up to their mama's belly and say "Charlie" a couple of months before she was born. Lily is an amazing big sister, by the way.
Old friends, in the end, are like family. They come and go on their own and when they come back it feels like home. We hope you get to see your old friends soon, too.
Until next time! Xo