Bolo tales

Detail of The Arizona Bolas by Michael A. Maglich

Seems Arizona’s official state neckwear, the bolo tie, is making a fashion comeback. Or so they tell me over at the Heard Museum in Phoenix — which opens an exhibit of bolo tie art Sat. Nov. 19.

“Native American Bolo Ties: Vintage and Contemporary” features “ties from the Heard’s permanent collection of more than 170 bolo ties and from the promised gift of Chicago collector Norman L. Sandfield.”

Power Bola from The Arizona Bolas by Michael A. Maglich

The exhibit and a related book will “show the antecedents of the bolo tie including Victorian neckwear and scarf slides.” The exhibit will examine how Western wear was popularized through movies and television of the 1950s, and “showcase bolo ties created by American Indian jewelers from the late 1940s through today.”

Turns out there’s another place you can enjoy a blend of bolo tie and art. It’s along the 3rd St. and Washington light rail stop near Symphony Hall in Phoenix — where a collection of bronze sculptures by Michael A. Maglich is installed.

A sign describing “The Arizona Bolas” notes that “these sculptures use the bola as a unifying symbol.” They’re meant to represent “the many activities occuring at the Convention Center and Civic Plaza.” Think commerce, industry, recreation and entertainment.

“Also included are references to regional history, plants and animals,” notes the sign. My personal favorites include a tie sporting pine cones, but that’s only because the artist failed to forge a bronze ice cream scoop.

Scroll Bola from The Arizona Bolas by Michael A. Maglich

Seems the tie originated in Wickenberg during the 1940s, which means my children — who grew up making a McDonald’s pit stop in Wickenberg every time we visited grandparents in Las Vegas — will be puzzled by the lack of a Happy Meals bolo tie.

Also the fact that there are two ways to spell the darn thing. Seems the “bola” contingent won out when it came time to officially name the tie Arizona’s official neckwear. We added that gem to the Arizona Revised Statutes in 1971, before Texas and New Mexico decided to jump on the bandwagon (with the alternate spelling).

You say “bolo.” I say “bola.” Let’s call the whole thing “art.”

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about public art in Phoenix — and here for news of a current call to artists and poets.

Coming up: My first New York Comic Con adventure

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