By DL PERRIN
THE GOSHEN NEWS
PLATO — Sitting on a winding, dirt, two-track road in the hinterlands of LaGrange County stands a house brimming with folk art. The 100-year old farmhouse is occupied by Nancy Appleman and her husband Lou. Her mother passed in 1985.
In 1990, Nancy and her first husband, Dean Colter, decided to move to the farm after her younger brother, Jim, had died and the family home stood empty.
A challenge she faced then remains today — what to do with all of her mother’s hand crafts.
“I don’t have the room to display them all and I don’t want to sell them,” Nancy said. “I like having them around.”
After a recent inventory, Nancy and other family members counted a total of 60 hooked rugs, not to mention paintings and quilts, all made by her mother, Jessie (Koon) Barroquillo.
Her mother’s rugs were recently part of the primary exhibit at a hooked rug convention in Ohio and her rugs were also displayed at Sauder Village for a full week.
Jessie never used commercial patterns. She hooked her own designs.
Nancy knew her mother was an exceptional artist. She would make everything she touched beautiful, whether it be a hooked rug, a quilt, an oil painting or tending to her country flower garden, Nancy said.
The garden her mother started and Nancy still tends, contains so many varieties of flowers, hedges and grasses, it was used in an official USDA plant-hardiness study. The garden meanders over a couple of acres surrounding the farmhouse.
Nancy and her two brothers inherited their mother’s artistic nature.
“Mother always encouraged us to express ourselves with painting or drawing,” Nancy said. “She was a good teacher and very supportive. My older brother had to carry the burden of farming our land after my dad suddenly died when Sheldon was only 10.”
Nancy said her older brother learned drafting and does creative exterior designs in wrought iron. Her late brother Jim was the talented gardener, she said. He did projects for public parks in Chicago and he worked many years on the gardens at their family farm.
Nancy is also an artist. At the age of 70 she decided to take up playing the flute; she plays piano by ear; quilts and paints in watercolors. Not being interested in computers, Nancy loves to read. She and her husband Dean had a two-story library built with a spiral staircase and all four walls covered floor to ceiling, with built-in, book shelves to accommodate all of her, her mother’s and her late brother’s book collection.
“It is my favorite room,” Nancy said. “My mother’s rugs are on the floors and walls and her paintings are hung with mine.”
Since her mother’s rug collection is so extensive there are no more rooms left in which to display them.
For now, Nancy is content to be surrounded by their beauty. She said she still has those quiet moments, up in the attic alone, communing with her mother through their shared love of beautiful artwork.