3/21/15 11:39 AM
Every year since 1972, the Kerrville Folk Festival has set its tents and caravans asprawl at the Quiet Valley Ranch in central Texas. David Johnson, born a decade after its inception, has been documenting the goings-on since 2007 in a series he calls “It Can Be This Way, Always.” It isn’t clear if this titular statement reflects the photographer’s own belief, but it certainly expresses that of the gathering’s more senior members, wizened hippies who camp out of caravans inscribed Vibe Tribe Mothership Headquarters and, in a nod to pragmatism, wear support hose in addition to braided beards. A nighttime shot of a trailer strung with holiday lights renders the magic of the place palpable, and also hints at the local politics: bumper stickers intone God Bless Johnny Cash and Texans for Obama. There are young people here, too, lots of them, and Johnson’s individual portraits of the more outlandishly dressed suggest a punk update of dropout culture. Giant toy Uzis, black bustier, ropes of pearls, pirate hat and wireless headset startle against the relaxed atmosphere of Texas Hill Country, but a swig from one of the ubiquitous festival beer mugs ought to help it go down easier.