Bill Owens: Suburbia On Exhibit in Lake Charles

Bill Owens: Suburbiais part of a national tour, managed by Art2Art Circulating Exhibitions, New York, NY. It will open with a free reception Friday, January 10 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the 1911 Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center at 1001 Ryan Street. The exhibition will run through March 8, 2014.

Bill Owens was born and raised on a farm in Northern California. After hitchhiking around the world and a stint in the Peace Corps, he became a staff photographer for the Livermore Independent in 1968. Suburban California life soon caught his fancy. “At first I suffered culture shock,” he wrote. “The people I met enjoy the life-style of the suburbs. They have realized the American Dream. They are proud to be home owners and to have achieved material success.”

In 1972,President Richard Nixon was reelected to a second term of office, there was a break-in at the Watergate Hotel, the Vietnam conflict dragged on, HBO began pay-TV service for television, the FCC established rules for community access channels, and a game called “Pong” launched the video game craze. Suburbia, first published in 1972, was a slyly subversive look at an inward-looking middle class, who in their own words accompanying the photographs, were seemingly oblivious to the racial and cultural strife roiling America’s cities. With thirty years’ hindsight, and with many of these same tract homes now replaced by MacMansions, and with Bill Owens himself now brewing premium beer in addition to making digital fashion photographs, we can look back with nostalgia on this brilliant time-piece.

Also opening this evening will be an exhibition by local artist Jessica Gayle, as well as an exhibition and gallery talk by Caroline Youngblood. HistoricCity Hall is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted. Charlestown Farmers’ Market is open on Bilbo Street behind the center every Saturday 8 a.m.-noon. For more information, please call 491-9147 or visit