The Doug Grant Family Donates the Emma Schrock Collection | Local News
NAPPANEE – The Doug Grant family donated their collection of Emma Schrock paintings – nearly 70 paintings – to the Nappanee Public Library’s Heritage Collection at the Nappanee Center.
Grant, who is the retired CEO of Lake City Bank, began collecting the work of the Wa-Nee-area artist in the mid-1960s and his collection would be the largest private collection of his works, according to a press release from Nappanee. Public library.
In addition to the donation of the paintings, the Grant family also donated funds to improve the museum which houses the collection in a permanent gallery. These improvements included relocating and improving the Nappanee Cartoonist exhibit, paint, carpet, new walls and lighting, and interactive displays.
Richard (Dick) Pletcher, who is the project manager, estimates the combined donation amount to be around $ 200,000. Pletcher said Grant wanted to keep the collection together and on display at all times and that the Nappanee Public Library was able to make that commitment.
Pletcher said he and Grant first spoke about the project three years ago. Pletcher said he presented the idea to the library board and also brought examples of paintings by Schrock and paintings by Grandmother Moses and asked if they could tell which one was which. Schrock has been nicknamed the “Grandmother Moses of Northern Indiana”.
Emma Schrock (1924-1991) was born on a farm near Wakarusa to an Old Order Mennonite family. She was born with dwarfism and spinal deformities that caused her to spend most of her life in a wheelchair.
After several surgeries, she was able to walk on crutches. It is said that Schrock never let her physical challenges thwart her, but due to her disabilities she did not participate in much of what would be considered the normal duties of Old Order Mennonite women and does did not get married. She became a keen observer of the world and the activities that took place around her and these things then became subjects of her paintings.
In 1961, her sister-in-law Irene Schrock gave her the book “You Can Paint a Picture” by Connie Gordon. Erma experimented and started painting professionally at the age of 40. As she had never had any formal training, she was a classic example of a naïve folk artist, like Grandma Moses, Henri Rousseau and Maude Lewis. Naive folk art tends to be flat – two-dimensional – with foreground and background objects the same size and tend to have bright colors.
It is estimated that Erma painted over 2,000 paintings during her 25-year career. Once she started she is said to paint at least one picture a day. She started painting landscapes but added people after receiving requests from people in paintings.
Even though her church forbade portraying people because they viewed these engraved images, surprisingly, Emma was allowed to paint and sell her work for a living.
“I paint what I live, I live what I paint”, she would have declared.
His paintings include scenes from Old Order Mennonite life – barn ranches, auctions, stinging bees, threshing corn and sugar maple, and life in the four seasons.
Grant’s collection includes one of his earliest paintings – a landscape and one of his last – an unfinished piece titled “Sleeping at Grandma’s”. It also includes a triptych of the view outside her bedroom window, according to Martha Owen, responsible for the heritage collection, who was briefed on this and other biographical information by Emma’s niece, Aleeta Schrock. Aleeta is in possession of her aunt’s diaries.
Pletcher had a connection with the artist and his first attempt to sell his paintings was at the very first Pletcher Village Art Festival (which became Amish Acres Arts & Craft Festival) in 1965 in downtown Nappanee. According to Pletcher, she became friends with the artists on display on both sides of her booth and one of them, Garth Bute, taught her how to paint over old barn siding and some examples of Emma are included in the collection. by Grant.
His first solo exhibition took place in 1979 at the Midwest Museum of Art in Elkhart.
An additional donor
A grant from the Fetzer Global Trust through its Freedom of Spirit Fund also helps improve this collection. Robert F. Lehman, retired CEO of the Fetzer Institute and Chairman of the Freedom of Spirit Fund is also the nephew of former library director Evelyn Lehman Culp for whom the library’s heritage collection is named after. Lehman told Pletcher that the Emma Schrock Collection at the Doug Grant Gallery was one of the recipients of a $ 25,000 grant.
The fund was established for the purpose of providing grants and awards that “honor and encourage the inner spiritual freedom which is the source of human creativity, courage and love in the world”. Other grant and award recipients were the Florida Oceanic Society, Stuart Florida, and Lifetime Achievement Awards to Bill Moyer and Sue Monk Kidd.
In addition, Mr. Lehman and his wife Molly made personal donations to the interpretation of the Nappanee Cartoonist exhibit, which was dubbed by the Fetzer Institute. Pletcher said Lehman’s gift and the purpose of the Fetzer Grant is to enable the Library Museum “to explore Schrock’s legacy as a person, artist, Old Order Mennonite and courageous woman and inspiring “.
He said the grant will be used to fund various performance programs, many of which aim to inspire “young people to pursue their dreams and overcome obstacles they may have deemed too difficult.”
Denise fedorow is a columnist and correspondent for Goshen News. Readers can contact her at [email protected] Follow Denise on Twitter @DeniseFedorow