JAN 21–MAR 15, 2015
Bill Owens: Suburbanites and Socialites
Internationally recognized for his depictions of Northern California suburban life in the1970s, Bill Owens’ photographs demonstrate his interest in documenting the ordinary lives of middle-class girls and women.
A subset of a larger body of work entitled Suburbia, these photographs raise questions about the role of women in the early 1970s, the importance of community and social organizations, and the cultural differences between suburban and urban parts of the greater Bay Area during that time period.
Like a visual anthropologist, Owens astutely recorded the customs, symbols, and social relationships that characterized American middle-class culture in the 1970s. Owens was a photojournalist for the Independent, a local newspaper in Livermore, California, and on weekends documented his surroundings with the clarity of an insider. His photographs document more than ordinary events, capturing the aspirations and realities of being female in suburban society.
Bill Owens: Suburbanites and Socialites is curated by Mills College undergraduates Meghan Adkins, Melissa Mize, Sadie Padial, Clare Schneider, Sophie Sterling and Veronica Sutter. Their essays in the accompanying exhibition catalogue and their comments on the audio tour reflect their interests and questions about these photographs from the vantage point of women in the 21st century. The works in the exhibition are from MCAM’s permanent collection and are a recent gift from Robert Harshorn Shimshak and Marion Brenner.