There’s a lot of history in a certain two-story building at the corner of Tinker Street and Tannery Brook Road in Woodstock. Originally called the Nook, it was reopened in 1962 as the Cafe Espresso, which became a major hangout for visiting folk musicians; Bob Dylan even lived in and wrote songs in one of its upstairs rooms. In 1977, a group of photographers led by Howard Greenberg and Michael Feinberg formed the Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) in the same second-floor garret that Dylan occupied. One of the leading artist-centered photography exhibition and archival facilities in the US, CPW took over the downstairs in the mid-'90s from the Tinker Street Cafe, expanding its exhibit space.
But as of April, the center is no longer actually in the town for which it was named: It’s now ensconced in its new interim home at 474 Broadway in Midtown Kingston, with a debut exhibition, photographer Doug Menuez’s “Wild Place: People of Kingston.” So why the move?
“The [Woodstock building] was built in the late 1800s, and a structural study done a few years ago determined that there were a lot of issues with it that were too expensive for us to fix,” explains Barry Mayo, copresident of CPW’s board of directors. “We also have a 1,500-piece collection of photographs that have been housed at the Samuel Dorsky Museum in New Paltz, and they need to be moved soon. Because of the real estate boom in Woodstock, we were having a hard time finding an affordable new location there. But [the city of] Kingston offered us help finding a new spot here. Kingston’s having an arts renaissance now, especially in the Midtown district, so it’s a great place for the center to be in.”
And, as Mayo also points out, local lensman Menuez’s show is the perfect way to welcome area viewers to the new center itself. An artist whose career extends beyond the 40-year mark, Menuez has worked in photojournalism, fine arts, film documentary, and on commissioned projects. Guest curated by Charles Guice, founder of the photography website Converging Perspectives, “Wild Place” presents Menuez’s intensely intimate images of his fellow Kingstonians—activists, artists, business owners, farmers—combining to provide a collective portrait of the populace as the town navigates between revitalization and gentrification. Captured on the faces of Menuez’s subjects are the palpable moods of optimism, uncertainty, defiance, and resolution.
Also transitional is CPW’s new space, which is intended to be temporary as the organization scouts for a site in Kingston sizeable enough to house its growing archives along with larger exhibitions and spaces for workshops, research, and related programming (plans include photography education incentives for students from nearby Kingston High School). The “Wild Place” exhibition is divided between 474 Broadway and the neighboring Rezny Gallery at 76 Prince Street.
“Wild Place: People of Kingston” is on view through July 17 in Kingston at the Center for Photography at Woodstock and Rezny Gallery.