A collaboration between acclaimed photographer and director Steven Sebring, iconic musician and author Patti Smith, and South Dakotan horse breeder and photographer of the collection John Penor, BYGONE DAYS chronicles a life of American mythology: hard work under vast skies, the kinship of small towns knit together by shared struggles and triumphs, and an immense land filled with equal parts opportunity and adversity.

A highly respected horse breeder by trade his entire life, John Penor (b.1910) had no professional training as a photographer. When asked why he photographed his lifelong home of Bison, South Dakota all through the 1940s and 1950s, he simply replied, “Because I fancied it.” And yet, with a keen eye and expansive awareness, he captured eloquent vignettes imbued with the humanity and beauty of a less cluttered American Life.  Events that could be dismissed as commonplace such as annual town parades, local rodeos, shuffling herds of bison, thrashing broncos, horseback daredevils, and regal Arabian thoroughbreds all composed themselves in his camera into snapshots of a quintessential American aesthetic.

Yet, like so many artists who don’t consider themselves so, John never shared his work beyond the people he knew, and his negatives lay neglected in a closet for years. It wasn’t until the discovery of this trove by his great nephew Steven Sebring, that this collection had the chance to be shared with the world. With a foreword penned by Sebring’s longtime friend and collaborator Patti Smith, BYGONE DAYS imparts the enduring lessons of lives fully lived and the magnificent history of those stories that the history books can never tell.











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