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Jack Leustig Biography

Jack Leustig Artist Statement: Born and raised in farm-country east of Cleveland, Ohio, Jack Leustig began his professional career as a photographer in the early 1970s in New York City working for United Press International. In the mid-seventies he studied acting and directing for three years with Lee Strasberg and acted in several New York productions including a starring role at the Actors Studio. In the late 1970s, Jack moved to Los Angeles where he managed the Aquarius Theater, a 1,200-seat, legitimate theatre in Hollywood that presented major Broadway musicals with their original casts. In 1981, after working on his first film, Zoot Suit, shot at the Aquarius with director Louis Valdez, Jack took a position at Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios. Throughout the 1980’s he worked on many films in various capacities including writing, casting, and acting (acting opposite Jessica Lange, Richard Gere, Sam Shepard, Michael Keaton and others). In 1989, Jack directed his first film, the acclaimed psychological short Triplicity, which he also wrote and produced.

Immediately after that he directed The Making of Dances With Wolves for Kevin Costner before beginning his most ambitious and important project, 500 Nations, in 1990. After four years in the making, 500 Nations, the eight-hour, prime-time documentary on the history of the indigenous nations of North America, aired on CBS in the spring of 1995. Created, written, produced and directed by Jack, the prime-time network mini-series was among the largest and most honored documentaries in network history. Howard Rosenberg in the L.A. Times wrote, “…stunning storytelling. Magnificently directed by Jack Leustig,” and Daily Variety echoed his sentiments by calling Jack’s direction “superb.” In 1996 in Washington, D.C., Jack was honored with the NEA Award for the Advancement of Learning Through Broadcasting. During the same period of the early 90s, Jack’s photography and digital imaging had a resurgence with many of his images being published in books, CD covers, and magazines (including two national covers).

In December of 1995 Jack’s life took a tragic turn when his wife of twenty-five years, the esteemed casting director Elisabeth Leustig, was killed in Moscow, Russia while working on The Saint for Paramount Pictures. He left the film industry and turned to the more private world of printmaking.

Over the next two years Jack worked with and learned ink jet printing from R. Mac Holbert at Nash Editions in Manhattan Beach, California (Holbert and his partner, Graham Nash, are widely credited with starting the fine art ink jet printing field in 1990). In March 1998, Jack, along with his wife and new child, moved to Taos, New Mexico with the intention of opening a print studio. His move was inspired by Epson’s promise to soon release the finest printer in the world with archival inks at an affordable cost. It took a few years longer than Epson had hoped but Jack used the time to refine his digital and printing skills working with Taos artists. In 2002, with the introduction of the Epson Stylus PRO9600, Jack Leustig Imaging opened in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico and has since emerged as the regional leader in the highest quality fine art printing.

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