By Ann Leach

There are things that just naturally go together: peanut butter and jelly and wine and cheese. It’s true for people, too. Like Abbot and Costello and Barbie and Ken. And let’s not forget, Jerg and Joan. 

 You may not know Jerg Frogley and Joan Allen, but you’ll want to. These 80-year-old women have been lifelong friends and support one another in making art daily. 

When they were younger, both ladies entered art contests found in magazines and on matchbooks. 

“I was 11 years old when I filled out the contest form,” Frogley recalled. “I think I drew an apple.” 

Allen said, “Mine was supposed to be a deer, but it looked like a horse. I was just happy to send it and have them write back to say, ‘Good job,’ I drew all through school after that.” 

Frogley still has the painting she submitted, and Allen thinks she might also have hers but isn’t sure where it is. 

Frogley and Allen encouraged each other in art and in life. They were on the cheerleading squad together, they shared dating highs and lows, and questioned if their art was good enough. “But we didn’t smoke or drink,” Frogley said. 

Still, Allen notes there are differences between them. 

“Our interests are a little different,” she said. “We complement each other and we’re not harsh. Though Jerg says I am more of a perfectionist, and she really wishes I would paint around the edges of a painting.” 

The two friends explored art together and made the commitment many years ago to attend a weeklong class led by Tulsa artist Priscilla Hauser. 

“Jerg had invited me to the class, but I knew I couldn’t afford it,” Allen said. “She pointed out that it was only $1 for a brush and $1 for a wooden board to paint on. I went to the class with her.” 

It was an intense week of instruction, with the young ladies studying techniques and color theory. 

“It was a class where you would paint a little at a time and then go back to add more,” Frogley said. 

Allen added, “We spent eight hours a day painting a rose. I mean, we know every leaf of a rose now.” 

But they were hooked on art and began to make it their life’s work. 

Today, the friends are teaching classes and creating daily in their studios. Frogley’s is a large shop that she built when she turned 70 and moved to wood turning as her creative expression. “I redid houses as a profession and loved wood,” she said. “I had always wanted to turn, so I bought a lathe from a pawn shop for $20 and started watching YouTube videos.” 

Allen’s watercolor studio is a one-room house next to her own that used to be her mother’s beauty salon. “It’s convenient, comfortable and eclectic,” she said. 

As for the future, Frogley said, “I just want to be able to keep doing what I am doing.” 

Allen is teaching watercolor classes in three different towns and selling work at Crabby’s and Club 609. Both women are members of Local Color Art Gallery in Joplin and can often be found greeting customers and sharing their work with visitors. 

“We laughed through our lives together,” Allen said. “But life gets tough sometimes and we help each other through.” 

“Life gets tough sometimes and we help each other through.” ~ Joan Allen