Loy Bowlin's Holy Jewel Home

Loy Bowlin's Holy Jewel Home

March 13, 2016 — December 18, 2016


Loy Bowlin (1909–1995) gained notoriety in his hometown of McComb, Mississippi, as the self-proclaimed “Original Rhinestone Cowboy.” In the late seventies, Bowlin started transforming his small home into a fitting backdrop for this illustrious persona; it became “The Beautiful Holy Jewel Home: The Home of the Original Rhinestone Cowboy.” After Bowlin’s death in 1995, the home was scheduled to be razed, but luckily, a Houston artist and collector by the name of Katy Emde purchased the house, carefully documenting and dismantling it before it could be destroyed. Through the assistance of the Kohler Foundation, Inc., Loy Bowlin’s art environment found a permanent home at the Arts Center.

The preservation of art environments is a complex undertaking, and usually occurs behind closed doors in conservation labs. For the first time, and throughout the entirety of 2016, the Arts Center is offering visitors unprecedented opportunities to observe, in real time, the processes involved in the preservation and presentation of an art environment.

Our gratitude is extended to The Frank G. and Frieda K. Brotz Family Foundation, Sargento Foods Inc., and the Herzfeld Foundation for major support of this exhibition and to the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding also was provided by the members of the Exhibitions & Collections Giving Circle. In addition, Arts Center programs are made possible by the generous support of its members.