LOY ALLEN BOWLIN, MS
1909–1995
CURRENTLY NOT ON DISPLAY AT THE ARTS CENTER

Loy Bowlin, Beautiful Holy Jewel Home (installation details, living room ceiling), c. 1985-90.

Aiming to style himself as a singing “rhinestone cowboy” modeled after Glen Campbell’s song, Loy Bowlin of McComb, Mississippi, became the maker of a remarkable art environment. To boost his spirits, he turned a brightly colored suit into a painted and festooned glamour costume and headed for town with his harmonica. He enjoyed the laughter and attention the decorated suit received and he quickly became known as the “The Original Rhinestone Cowboy.” His persona needed a backdrop, and thus he embellished his small home with glitter, cut paper, magazine pictures, ornaments, and spangles. People came from miles around to visit the “Holy Jewel Home,” and the Rhinestone Cowboy who lived there.

After Bowlin’s death, the house was slated for demolition, but was saved, virtually at the last minute, in front of the wrecking crew and dismantled piece by piece. Today, the preserved Holy Jewel Home itself, along with many of his fancy suits, hats, and furniture, is the only comprehensively relocated environment in the Arts Center's Permanent Collection.

Related Reading
SUBLIME SPACES & VISIONARY WORLDS
Loy Bowlin: The Original Rhinestone Cowboy

Related Links
Wandering Wisconsin

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