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Downtown Lincolnton public art expandingMichelle T. Bernard Aug 23, 2018Artist Tom Owen with the barn quilt he painted of a Carolina and North Western Railroad caboose, which is located near the splash pad in downtown Lincolnton.Michelle T. Bernard
Michelle T. Bernard
Aug 23, 2018
Artist Tom Owen with the barn quilt he painted of a Carolina and North Western Railroad caboose, which is located near the splash pad in downtown Lincolnton.
Downtown Lincolnton has become an artistic and tourist destination with the various barn quilts and murals that decorate local businesses and recreational areas. Lincoln County recently joined the quilt trail that is winding its way through North Carolina, as well as throughout many other states in the country. These aren’t hand-sewn fabric quilts but hand-painted quilt squares, usually made of wood, that are hung on barns or other buildings.
The most recent quilt to be added to the collection is hung on the building that houses the restrooms along the Marcia Cloninger Rail Trail near the splash pad at East Pine Street and North Poplar Street. The quilt, which was painted by Lincolnton native Tom Owen, depicts the rear view of a Carolina and North Western Railroad caboose travelling along railroad tracks on a quilt background.
Owen graduated from Lincolnton High School and then East Carolina University. He’s worked at various graphic design agencies and is currently working as a freelance artist.
“Tommy (Huskey) said he wanted something that had a quilt pattern on it and be train-related,” he said. “I had five or six different designs for him choose from and he picked this one which was my favorite.”
This is the first time Owen has painted on metal or used enamel paint and, given that the quilt pattern required precise measurements, it took several weeks to complete the design. He remembers when the old Norfolk Southern caboose was parked on North Poplar Street. His parents and grandparents used to run the old Economy Auto Supply store further up the street. The location of the building near the splash pad is where the old Carolina and North Western Railroad Freight Depot used to stand.
“I was honored that Tommy asked me to paint this,” he said. “He and I graduated together in 1970.”
Funding for the barn quilt painted by Owen and a second one by Denise Jenks, which is located on the Lincoln Culture Center’s arts building on North Cedar Street, was obtained from the Arts Council of Lincoln County. Additional quilts are located at the Lincoln Cultural Center, the Lincolnton Fire Department, the main branch of the Lincoln County Library, the gym at Betty Ross Park, Lincoln Economic Development Association, the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce and one at the Mundy House and History Center of Eastern Lincoln County.
Another form of public art are the murals that are continuously being painted throughout downtown Lincolnton. Three of them, “Threshing Grain” painted inside the Lincolnton Post Office, the “Rail Trail Train” painted on the west side of the Anderson Building and the depiction of the “Madison-Derr Iron Furnace” painted on the side of the Lincoln Times-News building, were recently inducted into the Appalachian Mural Trail.
Another new mural project is the human-sized interactive wings that have been painted in the tunnel under East Main Street on the rail trail. These wings were painted by local artist Heather Tompkins. This project, which is entitled “Open Wings, Open Heart,” was also funded by a grant from the Arts Council of Lincoln County.