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Art Shows at City Hall

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Thanks to the efforts of Clara Johnson, former Brisbane Mayor, and Carole Nelson, former Community Development Director, the Large Conference Room at City Hall now serves not only as the main meeting location for city business, but also as an art gallery.  There have been many art shows over the years, which are generally accompanied with a Wednesday evening Artist Reception from 6:00pm - 8:00pm. 

The Parks and Recreation Department is always looking for artists interested in displaying their work in City Hall's art gallery.  If you or someone you know is interested, please click here for more information. You can also access the application here.

Current Showcase

Bill Owens is an American photographer, photojournalist, brewer, and editor living in Hayward, California.  Born in 1938, Owens first became interested in photography while working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica.  On his return to the United States in 1966, he enrolled in a visual anthropology course at San Francisco State University and began taking pictures.  

The black and white images you see in this exhibit were all shot in 1967 and 1968 by Bill Owens as part of a photo essay he completed as part of his studies at SFSU.  Through a friend with a family home in Brisbane, Mr. Owens discovered this city, a place with marked boundaries and a rich community life.  For nine months he visited Brisbane at least once a week, recording the places, people, and events that made Brisbane a special place. 

Following his work in Brisbane, Mr. Owens worked as a news photographer for the Livermore Independent.  From Monday to Friday he worked in 35mm, recording the town’s goings-on, and on Saturdays he shot his personal images with a Pentax 6x7 and a Brooks Veriwide 6x9.  While in Livermore, he completed the book Suburbia, published in 1973 and whose photographs have since been exhibited in museums and galleries in Europe and North America and become the classic photographic description of the American suburban dream.  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.  Mr. Owens respected the liberation that many suburbanites felt, and their determination to build better lives.  A copy Suburbia will also be on display as part of the exhibit.

Mr. Owens’ Suburbia sold a staggering 50,000 copies in three editions the year it was published.  It has since been recognized as one of the 101 most important photography books of the twentieth century.  Owens went on to produce two more books, Our Kind of People (1975) and Working: I Do It For The Money (1977), and he received numerous awards and accolades.  Mr. Owens’ pieces have been featured in the Museum of Modern Art and he is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1976) and two National Endowment for the Arts grants. 

In 1982, Mr. Owen founded the highly successful Buffalo Bill's Brewery in Hayward, California, one of the nation’s first Brew Pubs which he operated until he sold it in 1994.  From 1993 to 1995 Mr. Owens published BEER the magazine.  He went on to found The American Distilling Institute (ADI), the oldest and largest organization of small batch, independently owned distillers in the United States which he continues to lead and cultivate.

The full-color photographs in the exhibit were shot by Mr. Owens in 2001, when he returned to Brisbane to complete a new photo essay of Brisbane to document the community as it was in the summer of 2001.  This was also the year of the City’s 40th Anniversary, where many of these photographs were displayed at the event itself.  He took photos of historic locations in Central Brisbane, as well as the new neighborhoods on the Ridge and the commercial/industrial areas of Crocker Park and Sierra Point.

We are indebted to Mr. Owens for capturing these scenes and sights of the Brisbane Community, and are excited to celebrate his 80th Birthday with him when he returns yet again to the City of Stars on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 for an Artist Reception from 4-6pm.  The collection will be available to view that evening until 8pm and will remain up in City Hall until mid-October.  We wish Mr. Owens a very happy and joyous 80th Birthday this year!!