Montana photojournalist Ken Jarecke has some interesting friends. Among them are Pulitzer-Prize-winning photographers and other lauded photographers who have captured behind-the-scenes moments of some of the biggest names on the planet.
There’s the late Bill Eppridge’s photo of the Beatles backstage with Ed Sullivan smoking cigarettes before their 1964 performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
The Beatles' image captures the nervousness that must have hit them as they waited backstage with their host to make their American television debut.
"This is the photo you weren't supposed to see," Jarecke said.
Eppridge is best known for his photo of Bobby Kennedy slumped on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel after being hit by an assassin’s bullet.
Jarecke reached out to his photographer pals in early September, requesting prints of their work to auction off to benefit youth programs in Billings.
“I sent out one email and I got 60 prints. We got prints from all over the world."
The photo exhibit and auction, “The Accidental Art,” is being presented by the Billings Petroleum Club on Friday, Nov. 17. For tickets, call 406-252-6700. Jarecke hopes to make it an annual event.
A board member of the organization, Jarecke said the idea was to boost the philanthropic aspect of the long-running Billings group. Proceeds will benefit Tumbleweed and The Boys & Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County.
“It’s not enough just to be a fancy club having meals,” Jarecke said. “We want to be a leader in the community, not just a place to have a nice dinner.”
The exhibit feels like getting a peek at photographers' private collections. And, in fact, you are.
As Jarecke stood back to look at the pieces, which are hung in front of windows in the Petroleum Club on the 22nd floor of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, he told stories about them. Jarecke will provide free tours of the exhibit from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 13. The tours are geared to students, but members of the public are also welcome.
One photo by Scott Goldsmith shows a grinning Muhammad Ali with his face covered in white paste as he gets a facial.
Goldsmith knew Ali was in town that day and when he got a call from a local salon that Ali was there, he took the curious photo of Ali showing a side to the champ that few people ever got to see.
There are two other photos of Ali in the exhibit, including one by Neil Leifer showing Ali standing over a knocked-out Sonny Liston after a controversial boxing bout. Some boxing fans believed the bout was rigged.
Leifer would follow Ali’s career from start to finish. His images have been used on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine more than 170 times.
Another iconic sports photo shows Mr. Olympia 1974 — Arnold Schwarzenegger — in a black and white vintage silver print by George Butler. Butler, who works as a photographer and filmmaker, is credited with launching Schwarzenegger’s film career with the 1977 feature documentary, “Pumping Iron.”
"These aren't aren't all high art, but today these images are priceless," Jarecke said.
There are images of unknown people, too. One compelling portrait by David Burnett shows a Cambodian refugee with her baby's tiny feet poking out of her coat in Thailand in 1979.
"We didn't just want to put the easy images up," Jarecke said.