Joseph Bellows Gallery is pleased to announce its upcoming Bill Yates: Sweetheart Roller Skating Rink exhibition. The solo show will run from September 23rd – November 4th in the gallery’s Atrium space. Sweetheart Roller Skating Rink features a selection of rare, vintage, and modern gelatin silver prints from the artist’s archive. The exhibition is the first solo showing of Yates’ work at the gallery and the first time these vintage prints have been exhibited.
In the fall of 1972, Bill Yates ventured to the rural outskirts of Tampa, Florida, looking for a photographic subject. On the roadside, he discovered a 1930s wooden structure encompassing a world that would come to possess him between 1972 and 1973. The resulting photographs from the Sweetheart Roller Rink celebrate youth culture in the American South during a time of profound change in the political and societal landscape of the nation. Through the arresting light of Yates’ flash-lit scenes, we see his young subjects exhibiting the joys and complexities of adolescence, characters fashioned from the rich tradition of Southern literature, and many, seemingly, Depression-era anachronisms. A few months before Yates began his project on the roller rink, he participated in a workshop with the photographer Garry Winogrand. The influence of Winogrand and other preeminent contemporary photographers of the era, including Larry Clark, Danny Lyon, and, more importantly, Diane Arbus, informed the young artist, contributed to his appreciation of photography, and aided in his approach to portraying his newly discovered subjects. Yates’ pictures honor the medium’s history and, at the same time, chart their own course.
Yates received a B.A. in Art and Photography from the University of South Florida and an M.F.A. in 1975 from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. Yates’ celebrated work was featured in numerous online and print magazines, including American Suburb X, The British Journal of Photography, B+W Magazine, i-D Magazine, Lenscratch, L’Oeil de la Photographie, CNN, VICE France, and Another Magazine.
In 2016, the book Sweetheart Roller Skating Rink, published by Fall Line Press, received critical acclaim and quickly went out of print. The book features an essay by Alexander Nemerov, Department Chair and Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Stanford University, as well as an introduction by Richard McCabe, Curator of Photography at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, who organized Yates’ solo exhibition of the same title at the museum in 2015. A second printing of the book is forthcoming.
Yates’ work is represented in the collection of The Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Do Good Fund, the Black Dog Collection, and the High Museum of Atlanta, among others.
Sweetheart Roller Skating Rink
23 September – 4 November 2023