Tomb of the Brights.

Barney Bright Bares All

Field review by the editors.

Louisville, Kentucky

Metal sculptor Jeptha Barnard "Barney" Bright Jr made his own tombstone, a sculpture of himself and his wife, Gayle. They are languidly reclining. And nude.

Tomb of the Brights.

Although Gayle was only five years younger than Barney (she died in 2013), he sculpted himself as a wrinkled old man and her as a supple young woman. The nudesome-twosome might seem appropriate in an art museum -- okay, maybe not even there -- but in a graveyard they're definitely odd.

Barney was a local Louisville celebrity, and Cave Hill Cemetery is known for its welcoming policy toward graveyard art. Even so, Cave Hill supposedly rejected Barney's original tombstone design, whatever it was. We asked Michael Higgs of the Cave Hill Heritage Foundation why Barney portrayed himself this way. "I think you'd have to ask Barney Bright," Michael answered, which was his way of saying that the answer is now unknowable.

Despite its posthumous purpose, Barney's tombstone wasn't Barney's final work of art. In fact, he completed it seven years before he died in 1997. The cause of his death was lung cancer, so perhaps Barney was a smoker and knew he should plan ahead.

Barney's nude tombstone isn't his only noteworthy sculpture in Cave Hill Cemetery; he also created lifelike bronze monuments for the graves of the Flower Woman and Frito-Lay Magician. They, however, are wearing clothes.

Also see: Cave Hill Cemetery

Barney Bright Bares All

Cave Hill Cemetery

Address:
701 Baxter Ave., Louisville, KY
Directions:
Cave Hill Cemetery. From the Cave Hill Cemetery main entrance, at the corner of Baxter Ave. and E. Broadway, follow the road with the solid line into the cemetery for about a mile. When you see a pinkish headstone on the left, turn left onto a small, unmarked road. Drive about 100 yards. You'll see the nude tombstone on the right, in a grove of trees.
Hours:
Daily 8-4:45. Gated after hours. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
502-451-5630
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Jack the Loyal DogJack the Loyal Dog, Louisville, KY - < 1 mi.
Cave Hill CemeteryCave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, KY - < 1 mi.
Flower WomanFlower Woman, Louisville, KY - < 1 mi.
In the region:
LaGrange Ghost Tour: Jennie the Typhoid Girl, LaGrange, KY - 21 mi.

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