Pickin and GrinninBlock Number: 17
By Nora Worthen
On Thursday, January 7, 2010, the McDowell Quilt Trail installed Block Numbers 16 and 17 in downtown Marion. The morning was bitter cold and the sky was gray, but that did not deter the quilt trail committee members from their mission to install “Pickin’ and Grinnin’” on the south-facing side of the Killough’s Music building. Woody and Freddie Killough are natives to McDowell County, with Freddie reporting that her family roots go back to the 1700s. They appreciate that in times past “quilting wasn’t as much a craft as it was a heritage lifestyle necessity.” Upon learning of the quilt trail project, the Killoughs knew they had a wall that was perfect for a quilt block, “because when you come up Main Street, it’s so visible. We knew from the beginning that we wanted a music theme block because of our business and my husband’s passion for music.”
Built in 1957, Killough’s Music has occupied it since 1992. By adding a quilt block to their building, they envisioned incorporating it into the city’s future long-term plan for making a designated walkway that connects Main Street to the Farmer’s Market and the Depot. The addition of a beautiful quilt block on their building would be like putting into place the first piece of that walkway puzzle.
The Killoughs chose an 8 foot by 8 foot block, which pictures four guitars and four banjos in an alternating orientation, resting on a plate of beige color over a background of blue, with red picks in the four corners. “We were looking for colors that would work well on that big expansive brick wall.”
The McDowell Quilt Trail operates under the umbrella of the McDowell Arts Council Association (MACA) and has very enthusiastic committee members who are dedicated to bringing beauty, tourism, and economic development to McDowell County. On this day, Mike Lucas had five female committee member assistants, who at any one time could be seen climbing on the scaffolding or wrestling the individual panels off the truck and hoisting them up to him for installation. Landon Whitson, an eighth grader, at West Junior High School, was observing as part of his Career Skills Class. He is interested in art, and chose to spend the day at MACA to observe and participate in its activities.
Upon seeing the installed quilt block, Woody Killough exclaimed, “I love it, I love it.” That is a common refrain of many people who view the quilt blocks for the very first time.