Because he directed Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues in Taos (twice) Jack is one of the few men I’ve profiled on taoStyle this month. February has been a serious girl’s club on the blog.
Jack Leustig Imaging is located in Arroyo Seco (on the way to Taos Ski Valley) in a building that once housed the late, great foodie heaven, Casa Fresen before Taos Cow moved in. When they emigrated across the street, Jack took over the building and has been there ever since.
Born and raised in Ohio, Jack moved to NYC in the 70’s where he worked at United Press International as a photographer while studying Acting and Directing with Lee Strasberg. He appeared in several NY theater productions at the time, including a leading role at The Actor’s Studio
He moved to LA during the late 70’s where he managed the Aquarius Theater and made his first film Zoot Suit before taking a position at Francis Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios in 1981. Throughout the 80’s Jack worked on films in different capacities including writing, casting and acting opposite Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard among others.
In 1989 he directed his first film (which he also wrote and produced) the critically acclaimed psychological short, Triplicity. Immediately after that he directed The Making Of Dances with Wolves before beginning his most ambitious project, 500 Nations, which he created, wrote and directed in 1990. An 8 hour, prime time documentary on the Indigenous Nations of North America, 500 Nations was aired on CBS in the Spring of 1995.
In December of that same year, Jack’s wife, the famed casting agent, Elizabeth Leustig was tragically killed in Moscow while working on The Saint for Paramount. Jack retreated from public life and turned to printing, an interest he’d pursued all along.
He came to Taos with his second wife, Brenda Smith and their daughter and I met him in 2001. Brenda had gotten the rights from Eve Ensler to do a performance in Taos and my daughter Genevieve was cast in the first Taos production of The Vagina Monologues which I was asked by Brenda, to do the PR for. What an amazing experience that VDay was! Incredible women came together and really kicked some ass. And Jack helped. Then he helped again. God(dess) love him!
He directed the women cast in that production, including his wife Brenda (an incredibly talented actress herself,) Cynthia Strauss and my daughter, with tremendous sensitivity and patience. I was able to watch a few rehearsals and was simply floored by the process. Jack works quietly and is very nuanced as a director. He’s masterful. Eve Ensler came and so did Jane Fonda. It was Taos theater at it’s best and Taos was and is so lucky to have Jack as part of our community.
Jack being Jack, approaches printing the same way he approached film and theater – as a perfectionist. The quality of his prints is superb, so consequently he’s always busy but the job gets done on time and beautifully. Aside from the actual printing operation, there are wonderful prints and cards for sale so be sure to drop by when in the neighborhood and check out his link below.
Photographs by Bill Curry