Celluloid Dreams: America’s Vanishing Movie Theaters & Drive-Ins – Photographs by Stefanie Klavens
During Hollywood’s golden age – the 1920’s through 1940’s – nearly every American city and town had it’s own movie palace. Whether an extravagant, neon-clad jewel or of more modest proportion, the neighborhood theater was an anchor of the community’s social and economic life. Designed in a wide range of flamboyant architectural styles, America’s historic theaters have entertained millions, first as vaudeville houses and later as movie theaters.
Over time, changing real estate values began to have an effect on the drive-in theater. Land became too valuable for a summer-only business. Widespread adoption of daylight saving time in the mid 1960’s subtracted an hour from outdoor evening screening time. The decline was further hastened by the amount of VCR’s and home video rentals. In the 1950’s there was over 4,000 drive-ins nationwide. Today there are fewer than 400.
From the ornate city palace to the intimate small-town movie house, Klavens’ photographic journey has taken her all over the country. She strives to record this rapidly vanishing era in American popular culture. Through this series she explores the history of architecture and design, the evolution of our social history and habits, and the importance of preserving a record of the past.
Stefanie Klavens’ work focuses on the importance of place and documentation of visual aspects of the American social landscape. Her photographs encourages deeper thought into subject matter often taken for granted: historic single-screen movie palaces, disappearing drive-in theaters, and the quirky individuality often displayed in private homes and places of business. Klavens, a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Grants Finalist, studied at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where she received a BFA and was awarded a Traveling Scholarship in the Fifth Year Program.
This exhibition will open Friday, July 5th with a reception from 5:30 to 8:30pm and run through Sunday July 28th.
Selection of images from the exhibition: