Displayed on the walls of Kettle Art Gallery were snapshots and video footage from the 25 years of Dallas band Old 97’s. Jason Janik, a local photographer, curated Friday's show filled with concert photography and Old 97’s fan art. It coincided with the group's annual Country Fair.
People began to walk into Kettle Art at about 7 p.m. for "Beneath a Quarter Moon," an event celebrating 25 years of the Dallas band. Gallery owner Frank Campagna and partner Paula Harris greeted them, offering wine and beer. Janik, the curator, had been there just an hour before, putting the finishing touches on the show with Campagna.
“A couple pieces came in yesterday and the day before,” Janik says, “so I am finally just getting a chance to take a breath and enjoy the show myself.”
Janik says he put the show together on short notice, but he has had a lot of time to think about something like this over his two decades of shooting the band. He says an important aspect of the curation was to have different mediums documenting the band on display. Janik says he wanted to have as much as possible for the viewer to experience.
“You can see photos online very easily; you can see videos online,” he says. “How often do you come to one location and see photos from '93 till now, see video that hasn’t been shown before [and] see some brand new [Old 97’s] artwork?”
Steve Reeves, an attendee and owner of MakeShift Photography, says he loved the show's tactile, physical versions of art. To bring a show like this together reinforces the idea that physicality is important, Reeves says, because artists make money off their physical copies of work more than anything else, he says.
“It’s really hard to get paid from an Instagram post, and it’s real hard to get paid from a YouTube view,” Reeves says.
At about 8:30 p.m., Ken Bethea, Old 97’s guitarist, passed through Kettle Art before leaving to see a fortune teller. Bethea says attending the show was like having his life displayed for him.
“I was like, ‘Shit, look at this place,’” Bethea says. “It’s like, ‘This is your life, Ken Bethea.’”
Later in the night, Rhett Miller, Old 97’s lead singer, walked into the gallery. Miller worked the room, greeting everyone he could. He says each piece on display transported him to a different moment in the last 25 years with his band.
“It’s very strange. It’s like being in a time machine,” Miller says.
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While this blast from the past was odd for Miller, he says he always had a vision that the band would live on as long as it has, and he hoped it would be something worth chronicling. He also appreciates the fact that some moments from his history with the band are not on display.
“If you want to have a career that spans decades, you need to keep some things apart from it. You need to keep your sanity,” Miller says. “I need time. I need space.”
He says he could easily see many more milestone anniversaries for the band in the future. At this point, five years passes in the blink of an eye, he says.
“I think 50 [years] is doable," Miller says. "We would truly be Old 97’s then, wouldn’t we?”