How could you possibly overlook Bill Owens’ “Suburbia?”
Darrell DeCosta
51

Darrell. Interestingly, in our discussions, Mimi and I talked about Bill Owens’ work: the similarities and the differences between Owens’ and Plumb’s work. Can’t ignore the fact that Livermore and Walnut Creek are part of the same region/culture. Evidently, these thoughts didn’t make it into the article. I’m interested in the differences between the two artists’ works; that way, I feel both are given their due and it helps us position their work.

Speaking for myself, not for Plumb, I think Owens’ work is closer. It feels loving and sardonic at the same time; Owens is not shy to express his wonder with the suburbs but he’s also quite direct in pointing out the artificialities. Plumb, on the other hand, is less cutting. She doesn’t get inside of houses, she focuses on the construction and the children and the viewer has to do a little more work to draw the lines between the two.

Owens’ photographs really delineate the obsessive order and focus on neat edges. His captions distill the mindview of people in suburbia. I suspect Owens spent more time photographing than Plumb did. His seems like a deeper dive from someone who lived and worked in the community for a long time (Plumb was commuting from the city and made pictures while visiting family in Walnut Creek). Plumb takes a slightly more distant look. Perhaps Owens was fuelled by humour. Plumb was fuelled by trepidation!?!?