“Sunset Drive-In,” an exhibition of 42 photos documenting the visual culture and architecture of drive-in movie theaters, opens Saturday at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City IA. Admission is free, and the show runs through May 18.
The photographer is Michael Flecky, S.J., Professor of Photography in the Fine and Performing Arts Department at Creighton University. Flecky chose these photos from hundreds of images he has made over more than a quarter century. “Outdoor theaters are quickly becoming a thing of history and archaeology – unfortunately,” said the Council Bluffs native. “It’s a vanishing culture.” Sioux City’s last drive-in, the Highway 75, closed in 1988.
Flecky’s interest in drive-ins was sparked 27 years ago when he was photographing western Nebraska’s Sandhills with a large-format camera. He was attracted to the formal qualities of outdoor movie screens in the panoramic landscape, along with the shapes of grain silos and church steeples, recognizable from a distance on the rural horizon. The movie screens appeared like frames waiting for a picture, “a photographer’s dream,” he said.