One-of-a-kind barn quilt goes up in western Rowan County

Published 12:10 am Thursday, September 16, 2021

SALISBURY — There aren’t many silos quite like the one on the farm of Susan and Michael Owen.

The Owens, who live off of Sherrills Ford Road in western Rowan County, are the proud owners of a one-of-a-kind barn quilt. Except in this case, it’s a silo quilt that measures 8 feet across and 24 feet from top to bottom.

Made possible with the design help of Elsie Bennett, hours of painting by Susan and installation by AW and Sons Construction, the silo pictures three sunflowers with stalks made of different shades of green against a sky blue background. On a clear September day, the quilt’s background fits in perfectly with the sky behind it.

Bennett says it’s the first barn quilt she’s aware of in Rowan County that’s been installed on a silo.

While most barn quilts are painted on wood, aluminum was used on the Owens farm because it bends to the shape of the silo behind it. AW and Sons Construction welded the silo quilt to metal rings around the concrete structure.

Susan likes barn quilts because they look nice, and they allow the artist to tell a story. In the case of the Owens’ silo quilt, the story is a small, meaningful tribute in the bottom left corner: “In memory of Leon and Rozelle Owen 2020.” They were Michael’s parents and died within six weeks of each other in 2020. Leon was 95. Rozelle was 93.

Leon and Rozelle were Rowan County natives who spent their lives farming, starting out with dairy cows, Michael said.

“We started out as a dairy farm, and that’s the reason we’ve got the silo,” he said. “They always grew crops and milked cows.”

Today, the silo is decades past its days of storing corn for silage, but it works fine for holding up the newly installed artwork. Covered by a clear coat and on a side of the silo that stays shady, Susan and Bennett were hopeful it’ll stay bright and vibrant for years.