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Exploring the Life of Jo Ellard at Bowie House

Renaissance figure Jo Ellard has led a life characterized by a discerning eye for detail. Renowned for her expertise in equestrianism, having earned a place in the National Cutting Horse Association Non-Pro Hall of Fame, she also excels as a horse breeding champion, a prosperous rancher, a dedicated yachting aficionado, and a knowledgeable connoisseur of art and antiquities.

Her most recent venture, the prestigious Bowie House under the Auberge Resorts Collection in Fort Worth, exemplifies her transition of passion into profession, showcasing her impeccable taste. With a history of over three decades frequenting Fort Worth for equestrian events, the Dallas-based Ellard identified a demand for upscale lodging in the area. Collaborating with design director Michael Crosby and the architecture firm BOKA Powell, she brought to life this remarkable establishment, offering a sophisticated gathering place in the heart of the Cultural District for visitors and locals alike.

Beyond the exceptional service and accommodations, the art that embellishes the rooms and common areas distinguishes the 106-room hotel. Each artwork was meticulously selected by Ellard, sourced from her personal collection or acquired with the hotel’s ambiance in mind. While Ellard has been an art collector throughout her life, her approach shifted to a more elevated level following the loss of her husband to cancer in 2010. This pivotal moment prompted her to upgrade her 1980s residence and invest in higher-quality art pieces. Mentored by influential figures, including fellow cutting-horse competitor and Walmart heiress Alice Walton, Ellard embarked on a journey of art appreciation that transcended boundaries.

The diverse array of over 400 artworks adorning Bowie House encompasses various styles and subjects, from sculptural mashups by L.A. street artist Hijack to photographic collages by Karen Navarro. Almost every piece is available for purchase. Managing this extensive collection is Emily Gregoire, former assistant director at Samuel Lynne Galleries, now appointed as the director of The Gallery at Bowie House. In her role, Gregoire conducts art walks, providing guests and locals with an immersive experience of the evolving collection at Bowie House, along with organizing intimate artist discussions and live demonstrations.

Ellard is already planning future art expeditions with Gregoire to Switzerland and Art Basel Miami Beach to infuse new energy into the collection. Regardless of the direction The Gallery at Bowie House takes, Ellard assures that it will consistently embody sophistication, engagement, and visionary appeal—mirroring the essence of the hotel itself.

Describing the hotel as a masterpiece, Ellard emphasizes that the art elevates its allure to unparalleled heights. Just like the furnishings and design, the art at Bowie House transcends traditional, modern, and contemporary boundaries, incorporating elements of each style. Every detail is meticulously curated, reflecting a labor of love that has resulted in a truly exceptional creation.

Collect Calling

Building a collection akin to Jo Ellard’s requires time and dedication. However, art enthusiasts of all levels can follow Ellard’s straightforward advice to assemble a remarkable art selection.

Let the right pieces find you.

Upon entering a gallery or art fair, allow your gaze to wander and be drawn to works or themes that captivate you.

Don’t buy simply for investment purposes.

Focus on pieces that visually appeal to you or evoke a sense of joy.

Framing is everything.

Invest in quality framing to enhance the presentation of your artwork, as it can significantly impact its overall aesthetic.

Prints are a great starting point.

For those on a budget, high-quality prints in well-crafted frames can instantly uplift any space.

Don’t be afraid to keep things moving.

As your taste evolves, consider upgrading your collection by letting go of pieces you have outgrown and acquiring new ones that resonate with your current aesthetic.