New Photo Exhibit Looks to Newburgh's Future

Through the Eyes of the Cornerstone: New Visionaries of Newburgh features several local entrepreneurs who believe in the future of Newburgh.

When Richard Rabinowitz decided to move to Newburgh from New York City two years ago, he was roundly discouraged from family and friends from doing so. He did it anyway, settling with his wife and immediately seeking to get involved with the community.    

“I just love it here. I really do. And I love to see the spirit in Newburgh,” said Rabinowitz.

Rabinowitz discovered Newburgh’s Safe Harbors of the Hudson, a non-profit organization with the mission of “transforming lives and building community through housing and the arts.” Safe Harbor’s Cornerstone Residence, which provides affordable housing as well as numerous amenities and programs, was a perfect fit for Rabinowitz’s idea to get himself more involved: offering free photography classes to locals who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.

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As the owner of Digital Photo Academy, Rabinowitz had access to donated cameras and professional photography teachers. In 2015, Through the Eyes of the Cornerstone was born, the result of a collaboration between long-time residents and local newcomers like Rabinowitz. Rabinowitz and his crew of volunteer photographers teamed up with June Henley, the Director of Programming at Safe Harbors, and the Cornerstone residents, or “eyes” of the Cornerstone.

Through the Eyes of the Cornerstone: New Visionaries of Newburgh is the third incarnation of the photography series, opening on April 29 in the lobby of The Ritz Theater, the historical icon of Newburgh famed for hosting greats like Lucille Ball.

Newburgh Brewing Company Owner Paul Halayko. Photo by Marvin Pritchard

Henley explains that the purpose of this collaboration was “to create a sense of photos that tell a story about Newburgh in its entirety,” as well as build a relationship between the tenants of Cornerstone and the greater Newburgh community.

This emphasis on Newburgh’s community is evident throughout the three exhibitions’ themes.

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The first exhibit in January 2016 featured local religious institutions and their relationship to the city, and was followed by “Newburgh’s Ole Faithfuls,” a portrayal of 15 family businesses that have “stuck through the good times and the bad times of Newburgh,” as Rabinowitz described it. The opening for “Newburgh’s Ole Faithfuls,” which drew 150 visitors, included an interview-based essay of the businesses alongside the photos.

Beginning in September 2016, Cornerstone residents Pedro Bonilla, Anthony Moorer, and Marvin Pritchard photographed 26 different entrepreneurs across the city for the third exhibit, “New Visionaries of Newburgh.” Henley, who organized the interviews, observed that many of these new business owners in Newburgh faced a unique challenge.

“Whenever somebody wanted to start a business in Newburgh, their family said, ‘You don’t want to go there.’ But they did in spite of that. And they’re flourishing!” said Henley.

Liberty Street Bistro Owner/Chef Michael Kelly. Photo by Anthony Moorer

Rabinowitz was especially impressed by how hard the new business owners worked.

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“Some of these people have full-time jobs while they are trying to build their business,” Rabinowitz said. “Customers don’t realize that the business owner just came from a 40-hour a week job to make their longtime dream come true. It’s hard.”

Rabinowitz describes this exhibit as a tribute to the new businesses, a way of thanking them and letting them know that they are appreciated, and making people feel good about being in Newburgh. Newburgh Visionaries are “people who have now put their blood, sweat, and tears and resources into the future,” said Rabinowitz. “[The exhibit is] basically saying we believe in the future of Newburgh.”

Through the Eyes of the Cornerstone: New Visionaries of Newburgh opens on April 29th at 6:30 p.m. in the Safe Harbors Lobby at The Ritz located at 107 Broadway, Newburgh, and will be on display for three months.

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