Scenes From Saturday Night's For The Love of Kettle Sale at Deep Ellum's Kettle Art.
A group of ten people huddled outside of Kettle Art Gallery in Deep Ellum, smoking and conversing, tepid breath visible in the cold night air. The door to Kettle swung open, revealing a couple rushing forward into the chilly night.
With them, the bustle of commotion inside the gallery escaped into the streets.
“Holy crap,” the escaping man announced to no one in particular, barely audible. “It's packed in there.”
And it was. But even that warning wouldn't quite prepare anyone entering the gallery for what awaited them. On Saturday night, the stretched space of Kettle was just filled with warm bodies, from wall to wall.
They came to attend Kettle's annual, one-night “For the Love of Kettle” event. And, unable to give the art the normal amount of space, visitors were forced to admire the on-display art from all of two feet way. Toward the back of the gallery, there was less weaving — and more praying you didn't knock somebody flat on their ass while pushing your way through.
It seemed surreal that so many people could be in the space at once. There had to be some sort of code or law against it. And, yet, here they all were, tightly packed in their coats and scarves, all gathered for a taste of local art.
Packing the gallery seemed a simple enough task for Kettle. When you make a social media push saying that the purchase of pieces is first-come, first-serve and all going for a rate of $50, people will rush to be there at opening — especially when its known, too, that this is Kettle's lone annual fundraiser, with 100 percent of the show's proceeds going directly to the gallery's maintenance.
It's one of this town's few opportunities, along with Art Conspiracy, where the proletariat can enjoy the experience of buying fine art — some pieces more fine than others — while acting philanthropic, too.
So, right from its opening at 7 p.m., people made an all-out rush to buy the piece they wanted. The competition was heated; individuals noticeably vied for a painting of Marilyn Monroe and a Frank Campagna reproduction of the Deep Ellum television mural. For a solid hour, a line of would-be art procurers bisected the gallery, providing yet one more obstacle for the crowd to navigate around. Yet, even more stunning than the amount of people in the gallery was the speed at which the art disappeared from the walls. An hour into the opening, at least half of the art that had previously packed the walls was gone. By the end of the night, the pieces left on the walls could be counted on two hands. And these new art owners could be seen walking around the space, reverently holding the new pieces of their collection or posing for a photo with a piece of canvas next to their face.
Hopefully, the same show of community support of the arts can be seen at Kettle’s next gallery opening — “For the Love of Artists” — another one night event on February 15. This time, 100 percent of the cost of the art goes to the artists, as Kettle forgoes its commission cut.