The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center is proud to present the photography of Bill Owens, a local photographer who has gained worldwide attention after publishing his first book Suburbia in1972. The Exhibition is on display May 2 through June 25. There is a reception on Friday evening, May 18 from 7-9 pm. The reception is free of charge and open to the public. Get your Suburbia copy signed by the Bill Owens! Reliving the 1970's at the reception!
Suburbia met with immediate success (selling well over 50,000 copies in three editions) and has since been recognized as one of the 101 most important photography books of the twentieth century, for its keen observation of middle-class America. Owens had recorded a generational phenomenon: the rapid migration of inner city apartment dwellers to affordable, newly produced homes in city outskirts. He realized that this wasn't simply a demographic shift but a psychological one. Social critics had mocked the suburbs for their apparent conformity and spiritual emptiness. But Owens respected the liberation that many suburbanites felt, and their determination to build better lives. For more information on his work, exhibits etc. please visit: http://www.billowens.com/index
Owens was first introduced to photography while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, Owens studied at San Francisco State College until he was hired as a staff photographer for the Independent, a local newspaper in Livermore, an East Bay suburb of San Francisco. His fascination with the people and lifestyles he encountered while working for The Independent from 1968 to 1978 led to self-assigned shoots on the weekends.
From Monday to Friday he worked for the newspaper recording the town’s goings-on, and on weekends he shot his personal images for the Suburbia series, working from a well-defined shooting script. Some of his subjects were people he had photographed for the Independent; some were relatives and friends; some were people who responded to the advertisements Owens placed, looking for people who would be amenable to being photographed at home. Over time, Owens got to know the people in the new houses, and he discovered their devotion to the American dream—“three kids, the dog, the station wagon, the boat,” as he puts it. On weekends, he made pictures for himself—most of them portraits that reflected that dream.
Soon private collectors and museums, including the Museums of Modern Art in San Francisco and New York City, were buying his work. Within the decade two sequels, Our Kind of People (1975) and Working (I Do it for the Money)(1977), followed. Owens is a “keen and sympathetic observer of the daily rituals of life amid tract homes,” the Los Angeles Times later wrote.