The work of local photographer Bill Owens will be featured in a new exhibit in the Gallery at the Bankhead in early May. Owens, a former staff photographer for The Independent newspaper in the late 1960s, gained worldwide attention with his book Suburbia in 1972 and its reflection of the changes emerging in American daily life. Today, his photography resides in the permanent collection of prestigious museums and galleries worldwide. “Suburbia Re-Visited” will be on display from May 2nd through June 25th.
About Bill Owens
Owens was first introduced to photography while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. During his time as a staff photographer, he was fascinated with the people and lifestyles he encountered while on assignment. Soon, Owens explored the subject further through self-assigned personal shoots during the weekends. Published in 1972, Suburbia was met with immediate success and has sold over 50,000 copies in three editions. The piece has been recognized as one of the 101 most important photography books of the 20th century for its keen observation of middle-class America. What makes Suburbia unique is that it depicts the rapid migration of inner-city apartment dwellers to affordable, newly produced homes on the outskirts of the city. For Owens, this wasn’t just a demographic shift in society but rather a psychological one.
It’s important to know that, at the time, social critics mocked the suburbs for their apparent conformity and spiritual emptiness. However, Owens respected their determination to build better futures. Owens went so far as to spend time with these people, getting to know them and discovering their devotion to the American dream. The photos he made were portraits that reflected that dream.
Over the years, Owens’ works have made their way into private collections and museums across the U.S. and throughout Europe. For example, some of Owens’ pieces can be found in the Museum of Modern Art in both New York and San Francisco. Soon after, Owens issued two sequels, Our Kind of People in 1975 and Working (I Do it for the Money) in 1977, earning praise as a “keen and sympathetic observer of the daily rituals of life amid tract homes” from the Los Angeles Times. Note that Owens’ books will be available for sale at the “Suburbia Re-Visited” reception May 18th. Be sure to check out www.billowens.com for more information on the work of Owens.
Bill Owens Book Signing
An opening reception for “Suburbia Re-Visited” and book signing with Owens will be held Friday, May 18th from 7 to 9 p.m. The lobby will be decorated in retro 1960s suburban style for the reception and guests are encouraged to attend dressed for the theme. Owens’ photographs will fill the gallery while adjacent spaces will feature works by local photographers that express a modern-day interpretation of his suburban perspective. The entire team here at the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center would like to thank the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council for sponsoring the reception. Please note that both the exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.
This is the second major photography exhibit at the Bankhead Gallery, following last year’s “The Golden Decade,” which featured post-WWII era photography of the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), one of the first fine art photography departments in the U.S. Part of the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, the Gallery is located in the lobby of the Bankhead at 2400 First Street. It will be open for this exhibit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. except on performance days. Admission is free.
Here at LVPAC, we put on more than just live music and theatre performances. If you consider yourself an art enthusiast, then we encourage you to make plans to see “Suburbia Re-Visited” for yourself.
Our performing arts center is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit offering wide-ranging programs that provide access to the arts for the Tri-Valley community and beyond. Along with the Bothwell Arts Center, the Bankhead is home to nine resident performing arts companies and over 40 studio artists and cultural arts instructors.
See what’s on the events calendar at the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center.