The inaugural exhibition of the Orval Hixon gallery, Shooting Stars: The Celebrity Photography of Orval Hixon, opens on Wednesday, January 27, at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. The opening will be highlighted by a 6:30 p.m. presentation from author and photography expert Dr. David Shields.
Hixon transformed the field of portrait photography in Kansas City and the surrounding region during a career that spanned over seven decades. Hixon’s studios, the first in the Brady Building at 11th and Main Streets and the second just one block west in the Baltimore Hotel, welcomed thousands of patrons including some of the most famous celebrities of the 1910s and 1920s.
Hixon and other photographers helped to successfully mold images of theater and film celebrities and their public personas in an industry based largely on visual appeal. As an Orpheum vaudeville circuit photographer, Hixon shaped perceptions of both veteran actors in the last years of their careers and hopeful performers on the brink of stardom. His artistic style set him apart and made him one of the most sought after portraitists in the nation.
Shields is the McClintock Professor of Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina and the author of the upcoming book The Magic Mirror: Photography & American Silent Cinema. His presentation will focus on Hixon’s photographs and their relationship to early 20th century theater and film.
Shooting Stars is the first in a rotating series of exhibits that will appear in the permanent gallery. Each exhibit will include photographs that highlight a different theme in Hixon’s work.
Admission to the gallery and the Shields presentation is free. Click here  or call 816.701.3407 to RSVP for the grand opening event. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the presentation. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage at 10th and Baltimore.
The Orval Hixon Gallery has been made possible through a donation by Charles David Hixon, Linda Hixon, and James Finley of over 150 digital photographic prints, produced from Hixon’s original glass plate negatives. Ordering information for these images may be found at www.sundancephotogallery.com .