Going Inside: Loy Bowlin’s Beautiful Holy Jewel Home

The home of the Original Rhinestone Cowboy, Loy Bowlin began life as a somewhat typical craftsman bungalow in McComb.  Over the years Mr. Bowlin added his own decoration consisting of glitter, rhinestone, and paint to his house.  After his passing in 1995 the house was eventually acquired by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI.  The Beautiful Holy Jewel Home, as it was named by Bowlin, was disassembled and transported to the museum.  It is currently under going a year-long reconstruction and restoration.  Does anyone remember where in McComb the Beautiful Holy Jewel Home sat?

Beautiful Holy Jewel Home

Loy Bowlin, Beautiful Holy Jewel Home (installation detail, living room), c. 1985-1990; John Michael Kohler Arts Center Collection.

Thank you to Keli Rylance for the postcard and for cluing me in to Bowlin’s work and to how a little McComb, Mississippi craftsman bungalow ended up in a Wisconsin art museum.  The video below gives more insight to Bowlin’s designs and how the house ended up at the Kohler Arts Center.



Categories: McComb

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11 replies

  1. Wow, maybe they would acquire Margaret’s Grocery.

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  2. My god. How do I not know about him? Why does Mississippi keep some of its best hidden, and then because Mississippi just doesn’t care it ships its cultural heritage off to Wisconsin ferchrist’ssake!!!! Please post more when you find it, E.L. I’d love to know where the house was, etc.

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    • This was Thomas Rosell’s post, btw, but I was ambivalent when I saw that this interior has left the state. I also thought about Margaret’s Grocery, Carunzel. I can’t for the life of me imagine why the MS Museum of Art didn’t jump on that and at least try to save sections of it for re-installation here in Jackson. It’s not too late to save pieces of it, but the deterioration is so much worse today than it was five years ago, and a lot of vandalism has occurred. The only thought I had was that the overt Christian themes might have scared them off, but if that’s the only reason, I still find that perplexing for an art museum, especially in Mississippi.

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  3. And thanks, Keli! Nice to keep up with you in these serendipitous ways.

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  4. I remember when Keli did the post about Loy Bowlin. I afterwards read an essay on him, probably in Sublime Spaces and Visionary Worlds: Built Environments of Vernacular Artists. It is unfortunate that the Mississippi Museum of Art did not have either the will and/or resources to preserve this art environment, either in situ or in state. Because of this, it is highly unlikely that Loy Bowlin’s life and work will ever become well known in Mississippi.

    If anyone is interested, they should check out the SPACES (Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments) Archive. There are seven Mississippi sites in the archive: Palestine Gardens in Lucedale, The Beautiful Holy Jewel Home in McComb (relocated), the William Carl Middleton Bottle House in Flowood (destroyed), L. V. Hull House and Yard in Kosciusko (relocated), Earl Wayne Simmons’s Art Shop in Bovina, Wesley Bobo’s Giant Metal Figures in Vicksburg, and, of course, Margaret’s Grocery and Market.

    Not to brag, but Alabama is better than Mississippi when it comes to interesting artist environments. There are a dozen listed for Alabama, all but one of which are still extant. Those include the Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery and Tom Hendrix’s Stone Wall in my neck of the woods, Brother Joseph’s Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, which my great-grandmother (like many other local Catholics) helped in the construction of, and my friend Charlie Lucas, the Tin Man’s, Sculpture Garden farther south in Pink Lily.

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  5. I would love to have seen that close up and in person. While these days I do not want anything that catches dog hair or dust, there was a time when I would have relished living in the room, or at least, hanging out in it for contemplation!

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  6. The house was originally located just south of McComb on Highway 51- Just an empty lot now. His car was also decorated snazzy ! Don’t know what happend to the car.

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