Life can be difficult in Newburgh, NY . . . .
Perched beside the Hudson River, this is a city rich in history, but all too often impoverished in all other aspects.
That attempts at urban renewal, made in the mid-1950s, came to nothing is obvious, the evidence all around. ‘Crumbling’ is one term often used to describe Newburgh, ‘neglected’ is another.
But look beyond the decaying architecture and great beauty can be found . . . .
It is discovered in Newburgh’s tight-knit communities, unearthed in its people.
No-one has ever articulated this better than Dmitri Kasterine, a photographer of immense talent and no little renown.
Dmitri has, over half-a-century, photographed some of the most famous people on the planet.
But it is his work in Newburgh’s toughest neighborhoods, where he has spent 16 years documenting life on the city’s punishing streets, that could come to define his celebrated career.
These extraordinary images are soon to feature in a book, Portrait of a City, due to be published in September.
There will also be an outdoor exhibition of mural-sized prints, displayed on the side of The Ritz Theater in downtown Newburgh, showcasing Dmitri’s efforts and offering local residents an opportunity to observe and celebrate their lives, their communities and their connection.
The latter project will be funded through Kickstarter, the online platform that we hope will enable us to pursue our own creative ambitions.
That we have become acquainted with Newburgh, with Dmitri and with his work through our own involvement with Kickstarter is something in itself to celebrate.
But it’s more than that, for this is connection – that thing that inspires our efforts and underpins our OMs – and it is on more than one level.
There’s the connection we have to Dmitri, one that is rooted in our creativity, our craft and our artistic endeavour . . . .
Then there’s the connection that we feel to Newburgh and its people, this one based around community, humanity and an unshakeable sense of belonging.
In both instances, we share hope, for that is a common thread that runs through all our lives.
Here’s to hope, here’s to Newburgh and here’s to Dmitri Kasterine . . . .