DOUG MENUEZ WILD PLACE The Journey Home Vol. 1
DOUG MENUEZ WILD PLACE The Journey Home
ABOUT YELLOW: I’m dedicating Wild Place to artist, activist and optimist Riley Johndonnell who created “INT-O Yellow” (International Optimism Yellow) a color designed in collaboration with Pantone Color Institute. INT-O Yellow is also an inspiring movement of communities uniting to raise awareness of Mental Health Month (May) and brighten their cities through collaborative programming of art, education, fundraisers and activations. Meeting Riley inspired me to pursue this series. His portrait can be seen at the end of this book.
Wild Place is the English translation of Wiltwyck, the original name given to Kingston, New York, in 1661 by Peter Stuyvesant, who came to advise his fellow Dutch colonists on their survival in the face of fierce resistance from local Native Americans.
My wife Tereza and I recently moved back to Kingston after a decade away. We can see a lot of changes, with surely more to come. It seems like an important moment for this gritty small town.
Change is exciting, yet it’s also true that growth means that the challenge of gentrification is rising along with income disparity. Concerns about these issues are apparent in some of the interviews that follow in these pages. Others see growth as a net positive.
Although my life has been a wild ride through a kaleidoscope of experiences, it is my roots in photojournalism coupled with a family history steeped in community activism that is at the core of my work: the finding and telling stories of how people live and express themselves. Which inevitably leads me to where they live – the place they call home. To their community. And now, to Kingston.
Ultimately as a visual storyteller, my role is witness but also messenger. This project is a way for me to continue to explore stories that reveal our shared fates and the richness of what is in-between — those milliseconds of another person’s reality that maybe nobody else will notice, but I do.
So I am very interested in understanding our new community and finding connections in the midst of our transition. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, there are more artists per capita here than any city in America. There are a host of new world-class restaurants, tech startups and new factory-to-loft conversions. Young people, families and retirees are arriving every week from New York City, Austin, Seattle and even San Francisco. They are embracing and revitalizing this beat up old river town, taking risks and making new lives here, just as we are.
When I look back on the places we’ve lived over the years (maybe 13 or 14 moves over the last decade) it was always the relationships that made a place our home. I believe that for a community to be a home, it will always need to be a place where you can be your true self. Where one is comfortable to share one’s fears, hopes and visions of the future; and that ultimately by helping others, one helps oneself. It is from these beliefs that the Wild Place project was borne — yes a new neighbor’s calling card, but it has definitely helped us start to feel at home here.
And as someone who has spent more than my fair share of time documenting risktakers and innovators blowing everything up to start all over, maybe this is why I am back in Kingston at this moment of flux, to shoot this new multi-media project. Wild Place features the local residents revealing not only their aspirations, but also what they love about the town or what they might change about it.
My forever thanks to everyone who has readily agreed to participate as well to those who will agree to participate in the future. And a special thanks to artist Deborah Mills Thackrey for welcoming me back and for producing the project.
From the Native Americans to the Dutch & English invaders through the American Revolution and on through the industrial revolution, to economic decline and decay and confused urban renewal, Kingston has emerged anew. In recent years, the artists came to inhabit the abandoned factory lofts; then the real estate developers closely followed. Will Kingston displace itâ€™s less advantaged residents as so many towns have done before? Maybe not, as there are several low-income housing developments underway along with the boutique hotels. Time will tell.
Nicki Tha Great
“I’m trying to be a pop star. And when I accomplish that, because I will, I’m planning on coming back to Kingston and going back to the high school and really helping with that.” – Nicki Tha Great
Who are you? My name is Dominique. You might know me as Nicki Tha Great. I’m a musician. And that’s it. How long have you been in Kingston? I lived in Kingston five years and I just graduated high school last June. What gives you joy about Kingston? I think the people, mostly. Not all of them are great, but there are some that I think are truly something special. And I’m hoping they soon realize that. What, if anything, would you change about Kingston? Well, considering I spent most of my time in high school. I’d probably change something there. And one thing I would change is the social dynamic. There’s like this weird hierarchy. Like who’s most important and who’s not. And I think it really takes away from the experience for a lot of kids and it sucks. If you’re a prep, you’re important. Like, to the school. Do you know what I’m saying? So if you do sports, you know, you’re important. You can get away with certain things that other kids can’t. If you’re popular amongst the students, you get treated better. You can bully somebody and everybody’s going to laugh because you’re cool. And no one’s going to say anything about you bullying somebody, which is terrible. Do you think artists are outsiders? Yeah. Oh my god, yeah. Especially in high school. Yeah, the arts kids, they’re so cool, but arts kids are usually kind of weird and stuff, so no one pays them any mind. But if you take the time to talk to them, you see that they’re the most interesting people. And the most popular kids are probably the most boring. No offense. What is your secret hope for the future? Obviously I’m trying to be a pop star. And when I accomplish that, because I will, I’m planning on coming back to Kingston and going back to the high school and really helping that. And obviously I want to make a new branch for music kids and arts kids so ... you know what I’m saying? Because they’re important. So yeah, that’s what I want to change.
This ancient river town has deep tribal divisions now being diffused by all the newcomers. On the Fourth of July all gather on neutral ground where itâ€™s assumed certain values are still shared; not least of which is the value of a fireworks experience.
Who are you? My name is Chris Turgeon, and I’m the Executive Chef here at Wilde Beest. How long have you been in Kingston? I’ve been in Kingston specifically for about eight months now. I am a habitual nomad. I really am from nowhere. I’m 35 years old and I’ve had 38 addresses, but I’m here by way of Chicago and Austin, Texas. What gives you joy about Kingston? I like what’s happening in Kingston right now. I like the intersection of culture. There’s a lot of ex-patriots from the city and that’s kind of running over a backbone of local folks. The way people seem to appreciate art in general here. There’s kind of an unusual gathering of culture. Reminds me a lot of the way Austin felt when I first moved there in 2010. Kingston’s got that same feeling. There’s still opportunity here. You know, it’s affordable for me, which is a big deal. And it’s a cool place to be. And the longer I’ve been here, you know, it really is truly a small town. Folks know each other, and there’s some surprising opportunities inherent to that, to how personal it can be. I think for me personally it’s that I’ll shine a little more than I might somewhere else. A little easier to stand out, a little harder to get lost in the mix. So, yeah, that’s what I like about Kingston. What, if anything, would you change about Kingston? I think there’s an unfortunate number of open spaces in some areas. We’re in the
stockade district and there’s some notably large holes in the street here. And I think there’s some community anchor type businesses that could be a real asset to the community, and to anchoring, you know in particular Wall Street as a hub of the community. You know, I know a lot of that’s been soaked up by outside investment. I’d love it if they became viable businesses and beautiful store front across the street that would be perfect for a local market of some kind. But Kingston’s pretty cool, man. The parking situation could improve a little bit. How about that? What is your secret hope for the future? When you start off your career as a cook, everything about what you do is dictation. You’re being told exactly what now. And you cross a certain threshold with that understanding, and you start to get some points on the horizon to navigate by and you start to be able to learn by imitation. So you start imitating the people around you and ahead of you. And then if you’re successful with that, then you start to understand enough of the puzzle to start to be able to build your own puzzles. So you start creation. And I think the vast majority of chefs in the world, end their careers there. My deep, heartfelt desire is to get to the point where I can start being part of the rare few that are innovating and adding something to the story of food somewhere, somehow. I’m in that process right now of actually saying my piece. And I think after a couple of years of listening to myself here, I’ll hopefully have something to say that’s relevant. So that’s what I’m hoping.
“My deep, heartfelt desire is to get to the point where I can start being part of the rare few that are innovating and adding something to the story of food somewhere, somehow.” – Chris Turgeon
There were 4000 crashes in the first 15 minutes of this ice storm & blizzard in Kingston that night. I was in three of them, including one with a guy who smashed into me before taking out a gas main attached to the wall of a large apartment building being evacuated off-camera. Thereâ€™s this really good wine store I thought I could get to before the storm got bad. I ended up walking there in the glorious, mad storm.
Deborah Mills Thackrey
“I moved to Kingston six years ago from Silicon Valley and it was the best thing I ever did.” – Deborah Mills Thackrey
Who are you? I’m Deborah Mills Thackery. I’m a photographic artist, and I’m currently exploring printing my mostly abstract images on fabric and then doing all kinds of things with that. How long have you been in Kingston? I moved from Silicon Valley to Kingston about 6 and a half years ago, and it was the best thing I ever did. What gives you joy about Kingston? I love the atmosphere, the old houses, the history, the Hudson River is amazing, being close to the mountains, nature, but mostly the arts community here has just been amazing for me. I feel like I’m in my element. What, if anything, would you change about Kingston? I don’t know. Thinking about what I would change about Kingston is ... I’d have to put some thought into it. I do feel there are so many pluses, but maybe there are a little bit of distance between the different communities. And I think people are working on bringing people together and that’s a part of the area that I really enjoy, but, you know, I don’t like it when I feel like people are isolated into different camps. What is your secret hope for the future? Gee, my secret hope for my future. I just want to continue to try to create beauty in the world, and find ways to experiment and explore, and find things that feed my soul, which I feel like I’ve been lucky to have a little bit a taste of that recently.
Itâ€™s all about Vermeer light, especially for me as I saw these luminous young women who appear to be floating, And the old bridge, lit up like a monumental construction project by an eerie firefall . I wanted to believe it was an effort to repair the old rusted hulk we drive across daily.
Who are you? My name is Susan Hereth and I’m the Education Director at the Kingston YMCA Farm Project. How long have you been in Kingston? I was born at Kingston Hospital and I’ve lived in Ulster County my whole life. I’ve lived here in the city of Kingston for...oh, let’s say two solid years, about 18 part time years. What, if anything, would you change about Kingston? Because I work with teenagers and talk to them all the time about things that they want to happen, I would change things so that they were part of city policy and planning and consideration when decisions are made in Kingston. What gives you joy in Kingston community? Coming to work every day gives me probably the biggest joy possible. I get to work with amazing people who are residents here in Kingston. I get to be fully immersed in my community; we have our farm stands set up around Kingston, so I get to see all aspects of the city and all the people who live here, and yeah, coming to work gives me joy. What is your secret hope for the future? My biggest hope for the future for me is to keep going on the trajectory that I’m on, that is being a person in a position to lift up the people that are coming up as the next generation. So that’s why I do what I do, because I really want to support and engage and educate the kids that I work with.
“Coming to work every day gives me probably the biggest joy possible. I get to work with amazing people here in Kingston. I get to be fully immersed in my community.” – Susan Hereth
Chef/Owner Jean Jacques of Le Canard Enchaine with his mother-in-law Elizabeth above. Theirs was the first place we ate on our first visit to Kingston in 2004, on our way to our new home in Woodstock. Didnâ€™t know that 11 years later we would hire Jean Jacquesâ€™ son as a photo and video assistant but everything that happens here seems fated.
“We really need to embrace change in the community and manage it to ensure that it’s successful for everyone. And so we don’t displace the folks that are already here.” – Guy Kempe
What is your name? My name is Guy Kempe. I’m Vice-President of Community Development at RUPCO. (A non-profit advocate for affordable housing) How long have you been working in Kingston? I’ve been working for RUPCO here in Kingston for the past 13 years, and I really love this city. It’s got great people, great history, an amazing collection of buildings, and a wonderful infrastructure. Really terrific place. What gives you joy in Kingston? I’m just a real history buff. I really love the history here. What really brings me joy here in Kingston is the history and being able to tell those stories, capture them, share them and preserve them for future generations. That’s what really gets me jazzed about the work I get to do here. What, if anything, would you change about Kingston? What I would really love to see change about Kingston, would be the reflexive kind of reaction we see to change. I sometimes joke about the community: they want big change and less of it. And it seems to me it’s really important that in this location, proximate as we are to New York City, with the capacity that people have not only to commute, but also to telecommute to a major financial center for their career and livelihood, we really need to be prepared to embrace change in the community and manage it. Manage it in ways to ensure that it’s successful for everyone. And ensure that we don’t displace the folks that are already here. And that’s a tremendously important value to recognize and appreciate your neighbors. Maybe they’re people you don’t see every day and they don’t go to the same parties you go to, or the church you go to, or don’t travel the same circle you do, but they are also an important part of the fabric here and we need to remember that. What is your secret hope for the future? Sometimes my ambition on a Friday, at the end of the week, is that I might have clean laundry for next week. But a longer view, I think my goal is one day to be able to spend all the hours of the day on a beach someplace and enjoying the waves and enjoying the sun, and that’s my fantasy of retirement. And now that I feel exceedingly old, 62 years old, approaching 63 in May… and thinking... nobody’s more shocked that I lived past the age of 30 than me. But I’m really excited to think about having that time in my life to maybe work on a volunteer basis and to not be so concerned about earning a living. But just being able to enjoy what I’ve done and continue to make a contribution to the world that’s going to be valued.
From a block away I knew Iâ€™d ask to shoot them. They just moved to Kingston and love their stoop. And oh hey, weâ€™ve met before says Ryan-OH yes, yes, so true, indeed we have. Smaller world.
Who are you? My name is Micah Blumenthal and I’m the Greenhouse director for Good Work Institute here in Kingston. How long have you been in Kingston? I’ve been in Kingston now for nine years, just about. I’ve come into the area for some time before that. Lived in the Hudson Valley in ‘97, but I’ve been back here nine years now. What, if anything, would you change about Kingston? I guess if there’s anything I would change about Kingston, it wouldn’t really be anything. Essentially, we’re all just wrapped up in process. This is the process. There’s nothing to change. We’re all here doing what we do. This is an active role that I play in this. And I suppose what I’m working for is a place that’s more equitable, a community that knows each other. But that’s not a button that I would press that I could just change it. Because the process of getting there is actually the work. And that’s the beautiful part. So there’s nothing to change. What is your secret hope for your future? I can begin to think of a future Kingston where we have found the way to do it differently. We’ve found a way to get outside the box. We’ve found a way to get outside ourselves. We’ve found a way to no longer just easily and lazily label and identify everyone, but in fact, recognize each other as humans. Which is nothing short of revolutionary. And that we could move with that. And that our exchanges come from that place. And I think change comes from critical mass. So as far as I know, we’re one person away from a critical mass point where everything shifts. So I’ll work every day like we’re one person away–because we might be.
“As far as I know we’re one person away from a critical mass point where everything shifts. So I’ll work everyday like we’re one person away– because we might be.” – Micah Blumenthal
I always walk with a camera as I learn about a place. Fortunately, Kingston has a lot of street stories going on.
“Kingston is changing on its own beautifully. I love the diversity. I love the art. I love the food.” – Robert Gaston
Who are you? My name is Robert Gaston and I work for the Catskill Mountain Railroad and I am the director, producer and events manager. How long have you been in Kingston? Iâ€™ve been in Kingston about a year. Iâ€™ve been in the area coming up on three years. What gives you joy in Kingston? I get joy from our community here in Kingston. Our customers on the train. Being able to make a slight difference in the world around me. What, if anything, would you change about Kingston? Kingston is changing on its own beautifully. I love the diversity. I love the art. I love the food. I just want it to continue to grow and the community to continue to develop as it is. What is your secret hope for your future? World Peace. A new president? I would like this train to get all the way down to the reservoir and beyond. I would like to have the Rail Trail and the train working together. Iâ€™d like to have a really successful year ahead and that we all work together as a community and continue to grow and thrive.
Who are you? My name is Nancy Donskoj and I am a photographer. And also a former gallery owner. I just closed my gallery. And I’m an innkeeper as well. How long have you been in Kingston? I’ve been in Kingston since 1987. When I moved to the Rondout, basically it was an empty, empty place. All along Broadway was nothing but empty storefronts. So that was quite a different era than now, for sure. What gives you joy in Kingston? I think for sure the community. I think everybody that lives here, either they’re from Kingston or they moved here because there’s this wonderful sense of community and sense of place. Being close to New York City, being on the Hudson River. It’s the best of both worlds really. There’s a lot of creative energy here, and it just keeps you engaged. That’s what I love about it. What, if anything, would you change about Kingston? Hmm. Actually, you know, there is one thing I would change. I would never have knocked down all the buildings. Half of the Rondout on Lower Broadway, across the street from my studio, was totally demolished and knocked down. And it really took the heart out of the city, I believe. There’s a resurgence now with people moving in. And people love the housing stock, but we really missed a lot of the wonderful architecture and you just can’t replace that. So now we have an empty field and some condos. What is your secret hope for your future? My secret hope for the future here in Kingston is to stay here. And to grow old and watch the changes, and enjoy this sense of place.
“When I first moved to the Rondout (Kingston), basically it was an empty, empty place. All along Broadway was nothing but empty storefronts.” – Nancy Donskoj
Left: â€œCould it be anybody? I get high with a little help from my friends...â€? Sings the crowd along with the local bar band as night falls on the old part of town. Above: Locally known as Uncle Willy, his sad eyes seem to condense what might have been a hard life. Before I could ask, my time was cut short by his many admirers gently pushing me aside.
“When I moved up here, I found such a huge entrepreneurial spirit and population of people who were creating things–I just felt really right at home.” – Maryline Damour
Who are you? My name is Marline Damour and I’m an interior designer. And it’s my second career, so I’ve been an interior designer for about four years now. How long have you been in Kingston? I’ve been in Kingston for four years. When I decided to move up from New York City was when I decided to make the big shift, leaving my old profession in Marketing and PR to Interior Design. So I moved up here to be an interior designer. What about Kingston gives you joy? When I moved up here, I found such a huge entrepreneurial spirit. And I found such a huge population of people who were involved in just creating things. Whether they were makers, or people developing programs for the community to connect people, I just felt really right at home. What, if anything, would you change about Kingston? I think one of the things that I try to do with my Kingston Design Connection Program is recognizing that there are so many designers and makers moving up here. I really try to create a mechanism for them to connect with each other. And I think that the more that we do that as a city, the more that we embrace the designers that are moving up here and create a pathway for them to connect with other creatives, I think the better off we will all be. What is your secret hope for your future? Gosh, it’s boundless, really. I tend to be one of those people. You know the Design House was meant to be a week long art project which turned into a month long thing, which now is an actual program with lots of different moving pieces. I just really like to explore new things. And if I’m interested in it, I will just move full steam ahead and just do it. So who knows what the future will bring?
Founder INT-O Yellow, co-founder/former editor Surface Magazine, artist and community activist Riley Johndonnell has taken a long, winding journey to settle and build a new life in Kingston.
Photo by Dutch Doscher
For over thirty years, Doug Menuez has created some of the worlds most memorable images — images that at their most basic reveal to us the realities of the human condition in the context of culture. From his community organizer father he got his first taste of what it takes to change things for the better and stand up for what you believe in. Menuez also learned that human beings have to find common connections in order to survive and thrive together. He believes that we all share universal needs, hopes and desires and that belief is the fuel for the stories he tells about our lives. After art school and getting a degree in Photojournalism, Menuez began his career freelancing for publications such as Time, LIFE, Newsweek, Fortune, USA Today, and the New York Times Magazine; he showed us the AIDS crisis, homelessness in America, politics, the rise of Silicon Valley, five Super Bowls and the Olympics. Along the way he stood at the North Pole, crossed the Sahara had tea with Stalin’s daughter and held a chunk of Einstein’s brain. His success was driven by a willingness to risk everything to make a photograph that would be meaningful to his audience. His portrait assignments include Presidents Bush, Sr. and Bill Clinton, Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Lenny Kravitz, Mother Teresa, Jane Goodall and Hugh Jackman. Menuez began bringing his documentary experience to advertising to produce
compelling, authentic moments. His award-winning advertising campaigns and corporate projects for global brands include Chevrolet, FedEx, Apple, Leica, GE, Chevron, HP, Coca Cola, Emirates Airlines, Charles Schwab and Microsoft. Menuez’ work has been honored by many organizations, including the Kelly Awards, The AOP London, The Cannes Festival, The One Show, The Art Director’s Club of NY, Photo District News, The Epson Creativity Award, American Photography, the International Photography Awards, NY Photo Festival, Graphis, and Communication Arts. His fourth book, “Fearless Genius: The Digital Revolution in Silicon Valley 19852000,” by Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books, a #1 bestseller on Amazon’s photo book list and published in six countries translated into 17 languages. Over 100 million people worldwide have seen the project through the book, exhibits, viral press and his talks. Menuez’ work has been exhibited in solo and group shows around the world. Currently, his “Fearless Genius” exhibition of rare images of Steve Jobs and Silicon Valley’s greatest innovators ss they changed our world, continues to travel. His extensive archive of over one million images was acquired by Stanford University Libraries in 2004.
Doug is represented by Heather Elder Represents: firstname.lastname@example.org
www.menuez.com Visit WILD PLACE for more stories, video interviews and photographs. All text & photographs Â©Doug Menuez
We all need to find home. In WILD PLACE: The Journey Home, Doug Menuez shares his photographs & interviews of residents of Kingston, NY, a g...
Published on Aug 2, 2019
We all need to find home. In WILD PLACE: The Journey Home, Doug Menuez shares his photographs & interviews of residents of Kingston, NY, a g...