Local rock photographer brings famed exhibit to hometown

"Our Immortal Stars", a retrospective of Bright's Grove-born Richard Beland's photography.

A Bright’s Grove-born photographer, who has captured the likes of the Tragically Hip, David Bowie, Nirvana, and Rush, will be showcasing his three decade career with a retrospective in Sarnia this summer.

Richard Beland’s work, which spans over 30 years, will be highlighted during an exhibition called “Our Immortal Stars”, taking place June 3 to September 5.

It’s being held at the International Symphony Orchestra’s ISObar Gallery on Christina Street.

Beland said it’s exciting to be able to display his work in his hometown.

“I’ve never had an exhibition here in Sarnia before, or anywhere in the area,” said Beland. “I’ve had a number of exhibitions in Toronto over the years, so it is definitely exciting. I think it’ll be fun to have some of my friends and family there and people that I know from the past, I hope they’ll stop by and have a look.”

Beland said there will be 55 pieces on display, adding there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

“They’re probably going to see their favourite band,” he said. “At the moment, there’s everything from Dolly Parton to The Tragically Hip to David Bowie, Robert Plant, The Rolling Stones, Rush, Tony Bennett. There’s something for everybody I think.”

Beland has been into photography since 1986 and became a professional in 1994.

He took the photography program at Fanshawe College and did work for the school newspaper.

Beland said one of his favourite experiences was in Dublin photographing U2.

“They played a big show at this castle, just on the outskirts called Slane Castle, in front of about 85,000 people,” said Beland. “That was a monumental experience for me, it was quite exciting. Also, the final Tragically Hip Tour, I kind of had mixed emotions about that, but it was great to be there and be a part of that.”

ISO Executive Director Anthony Wing said the anticipation for Beland’s first local gallery retrospective is high.

“This is the first solo gallery show at The ISObar and we wanted to kick it off with a hometown success story. Richard’s work spans decades and is still evolving, so we’re privileged to host this mid-career study.”

Beland’s work will be up for sale and he’ll be signing special edition posters. Interested buyers can also purchase multi-sized prints of the works featured in the show, for which Artopia and Zony’s Framing are offering framing discounts.

The exhibit’s First Friday opening will also feature an onstage interview with the photographer conducted by harmonica legend Mike Stevens, music from the ISO Nexus Players performing arrangements of selections from David Bowie, The Tragically Hip and other artists featured in Beland’s photography.

The exhibition is currently running at Liss Gallery in Yorkville, and has been a huge success.