The Bolo Tie: A Vintage Art and Contemporary Fashion Statement on Display at The Heard Museum

If you've ever wanted to know more about the artform and fashion statement, head to Downtown's Heard Museum, where "Native American Bolo Ties- Vintage and Contemporary Artistry," is on display through September 3.

The exhibition features ties from the museum's permanent collection of more than 170 bolo ties, as well as more from the gift of Chicago collector Norman L. Sandfield. 

​Sandfield's collection has more than 1,000 bolo ties, scarf slides and ephemera, many of which the Heard has on display along with bolo ties created by American Indian jewelers from the late 1940s through today.

The exhibit also explores how Western wear, including the bolo tie, became poplar through 1950s television shows and films (think Cisco Kid and Roy Rogers). 

If the exhibit doesn't fulfill your quest for bolo tie knowledge, you'll want to check out the book written by the exhibition curator Diana Pardue and Sandfield.

So why and how did Arizona decide to join in on the bolo tie craze and make it the official state neckwear? 

In 1966, KOOL Channel 10's anchor Bill Close and five other enthusiasts met at the Westward Ho Hotel. They wanted to make the bolo tie a state emblem. The same year, Arizona Highways Magazine featured Southwestern jewelry, including bolo ties, in their October issue. Then, in 1969, Gov. Jack Williams declared the first week of March "Bolo Tie Week." And by April 22, 1971, after many unsuccessful attempts, a bill making the bolo tie the official state neckwear was passed.

Since then, New Mexico and Texas have followed suit and also made the bolo tie their official neckwear.

To find your very own bolo tie, search around some Valley locales including the GROWop, the Heard museum shop or your grandfather's dresser drawers.

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Megan Mattox
Contact: Megan Mattox