Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A Christmas Art Story from Downtown Toronto and Downtown Guelph

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PAINTINGS AND PHOTOS FROM AN URBAN PRISON
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Stephen Weir here. I want to briefly tell you about a special "Christmas" art show that should be of interest to you. There is a special exhibition that opened today in Guelph featuring the work of Toronto's Bryce Christmas
Bryce Christmas is a young artist who has been confined by court order to a 2-bedroom apartment in downtown Toronto. For the past 9-months his world has been confined to what he can see and paint from his balcony and to the junk he can find and photograph in the apartment building's musty old basement.
Bryce is waiting for his trial on a variety of drug related charges. The courts have put him under the care of Bernard Gauthier, the driving force behind Bravo TV. He has turned his life around because of art and the influence of Bernard.
To keep sane Bryce has been creating art every day in his comfortable but claustrophobic prison. Well known Toronto curator Shelley Falconer has just seen Bryce's art. She is blown away by the work and is looking for a national gallery to hang a show.
So are the owners of Alma Gallery in Guelph (The Gallery is owned by Tom Dowd, Renann Isaacs is the curator). Yesterday they scooped up almost everything he has produced. They are rushing to get it up in their, believe it or not, Christmas Room. Also in the gallery is a show entitled Five Canadian Artists -- showing works by Stu Oxley, Cheryl Ruddock, Paul Kuhn as well as Order of Canada and Governor General Award recipients Tony Urquhart and Wanda Koop.
The Alma Gallery has hung over 30 photographs and paintings by 28-year old Christmas. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 6pm. It is located at 133 Wyndham St North in Guelph. The gallery's number is 519.763.6392 and their website is at www.almagallery.ca/.


FOLLOW UP NUMBER ONE: Premiering tonight (Wednesday December 23rd) on CP24 in Toronto and Monday across-Canada on Bravo!, this week's (actually for the next two weeks) Bravo!News includes a segment on 'The Art of Bryce Christmas'.


FOLLOW UP NUMBER TWO: Read Peter Goddard's compelling full page feature on Bryce Christmas in the Toronto Star: http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/article/747785--portrait-of-an-artist-as-a-young-exile

Monday, 21 December 2009

Diver Magazine Christmas Article Part SIX - New Underwater Toys for Christmas

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New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The Fifth Day of Christmas
(Unedited story in 5-parts - Feature for December issue of Canada's Diver Magazine www.divermag.com)

By Stephen Weir

With only a few weeks left until Christmas, the expert buyers at Diver Magazine have once again come to the rescue of weary holiday shoppers with our well-informed gift suggestions. This time, the buyers have zeroed in over 20 last-minute gift suggestions that are all new (or improved) this year.

HELP FLAG: When closed a new expandable dive flag is so small that it can easily fit into a loved ones Christmas stocking. When open fully the 150 grams H.E.L.P flag extends to over 1500 mm in height and can be seen up to 3kms away. The yellow colour flag The flag sells for $50 US (plus shipping charges) and can be ordered on line at: www.thediveflag.com/.

Grand Bahama goes all inclusive – shark dive thrown in - The island of Grand Bahamas has long been synonymous with dive tourism in the Caribbean. The Unexso Dive Shop, one of the world’s first day-trip dive operations is located on the island. There are a number of outstanding hotels and resort complexes on the island as well. Individually owned, the hotel and dive shops have banded together to offer a new unique program they call Club Grand Bahama -- a flexible, affordable “all-inclusive” vacation. You pay one price and choose where you stay, dine and dive. Divers should look to the new Platinum Package. According to Gauri Kibler with the Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board “ The Club Grand Bahama program offers guests one (dive) activity for every two nights they stay on Grand Bahama. For a 7-night stay, a guest would be entitled to 3 activities, which they can use at anytime during the duration of their stay. You can dive with a number of shops including the iconic Unexso, which offers as part of the program one tank dives, shark dives and two tank dives.

Also worthy under the tree this year. Keep your cell-phone dry on the dive boat! •The Waterproof I-Mate is impervious to saltwater. This smart phone meets Military Specs. Comes with compass and GPS. •Need to bring your portable hard-drive along on a dive? The new A-Data’s external drive, the SH93, has a rubber body and wraparound USB cord. It can be left underwater for a half-hour with no ill effects. •Buy that special someone an opportunity to jump out of a moving helicopter in scuba gear! Dive Charter Curacao, on the Caribbean Island of Curacao, now offers “helidives”. Divers gear up on land and then climb into a waiting helicopter. It flies to their dive site, hovers over the water and the divers jump in! • The Asian electronics firm Thanko has come out with an underwater video camera that is the size of a penlight. Video Water is 68 mm long, 19 mm wide, is rated to a depth of 20 meters and sells for $133 US.

CUTLINES: Top Left - The new Flag. Right - 3 pictures from the Unexso Shark Dive, Left: the new waterproof I-Mate.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Diver Magazine Christmas Article Part FIVE- New Underwater Toys for Christmas

New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The Fourth Day of Christmas
(Unedited story in 6-parts - Feature for December issue of Canada's Diver Magazine www.divermag.com)

By Stephen Weir

With only a few weeks left until Christmas, the expert buyers at Diver Magazine have once again come to the rescue of weary holiday shoppers with our well-informed gift suggestions. This time, the buyers have zeroed in over 20 last-minute gift suggestions that are all new (or improved) this year.


Snakes on a Sleigh … Aqua Lung is distributing newly updated and improved Viper and Cobra dive computers this Christmas. Built by Suunato, the Cobra3 and Vyper2 dive computer feature Air, Nitrox and Gauge modes, as well as gas switching capabilities. Both use the Suunato deep stop reduced gradient bubble model algorithm that features continuous decompression for optimal ascent time. www.aqualung.com


Fold ‘em to fit under the tree! The new Flipfins began showing up in dive shops earlier this year. Made by Omega Aquatics, Flipfins look like standard flippers underwater but when a lever is pressed the front of the flipper flips up, allowing the dive to climb ladders and walk on land with ease. $170 US. www.flipfins.com
Tanks won’t fall out of the sleigh thanks to design. The new this year Scuba Tank Transport is both simple and well designed. It fits in the back of a truck and will hold up to five scuba tanks. It is 48-inches wide, 30-inches deep and has a 4-inch lip formed up on three sides to contain up to five high-pressure steel tanks and six aluminum 80's. It also has a unique 2 inch lip folded down to capture the back end of the truck body so that the tanks won’t shift while braking. Built by Competitive Development & Manufacturing in Washington State, the tank holder costs $141.00. Pictured below www.thediversplatform.com

Just when you thought it was safe to look under the Christmas tree … Santa has a treat for divers who like to gamble. This Christmas Aristocrat Technologies is bringing a new video slot game - JAWS - into North America casinos and racetracks that will make divers glad they didn’t go diving this holiday break. JAWS is based on the film of the same name. The fun begins the minute players sit down in their chair -- a nervous flick of a finger on the “shark tooth” spin button, and the game begins. From deep inside the slot, the familiar spine-tingling JAWS theme music plays. Completing the experience, an electro-mechanical buoy topper lights up and sounds off a bell during game play, and shark “gills” cover the speakers.


TO BE CONTINUED ... excerpts right up until Christmas Eve, at www.stephenweir.com

Thursday, 17 December 2009

New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The Fourth Day of Christmas

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New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The Third Day of Christmas
(Unedited story in 6-parts - Feature for December issue of Canada's Diver Magazine www.divermag.com)


By Stephen Weir

With only a few weeks left until Christmas, the expert buyers at Diver Magazine have once again come to the rescue of weary holiday shoppers with our well-informed gift suggestions. This time, the buyers have zeroed in over 20 last-minute gift suggestions that are all new (or improved) this year.

Two, Two cameras in one. If you have a friend in Mexico or the United States you might ask them to buy and Fed-ex the new Sanyo underwater camera up to Canada in time for Christmas. Sanyo has come up with a line of underwater cameras that take both still and video images. The all-HD Dual Camera offers a variety of unique features including High Definition Video with 8 megapixel photos, a still camera option withup to 2 megapixel photos and 30x optical and the ability to work underwater - down to a depth of 10 feet for an hour without a housing!
The Dual Camera is designed to interact on-line and purchasers receives along with the camera a number of videos featuring Web Stars including: Lisa Nova,iJustine, Rhett & Link, Mr. Safety, Audrey Kitching, Brandon Hardesty and Apprentice A. http://us.sanyo.com/Dual-Cameras/

Cleopatra, the wet look. Although the show doesn't open until June 2010, tickets are on sale now (just in time for Christmas) for the "Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt," exhibition making its world premiere in June 2010 at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Blog Organized by the National Geographic with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM), the exhibition will feature more than 250 artifacts, and take visitors inside the present-day search for Cleopatra, which extends from the sands of Egypt to the depths of the Bay of Aboukir near Alexandria. As a highlight, the exhibition will showcase artifacts from Franck Goddio's continuing underwater search off the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, begun in 1992 and sponsored by the Hilti Foundation. Goddio's remarkable finds will bring visitors inside his search for the lost world of Cleopatra, including remnants from the grand palace where she ruled. Visitors will also see underwater footage and photos of Goddio's team retrieving artifacts from the ocean and bringing them to the surface for the first time in centuries. Tickets can be ordered at www.fi.edu.

cutline: top left - The Sanyo underwater camera. Shoots video and stills underwater to a depth of 10ft without a housing.
above right - Statue of a priest of Isis (statue recovered in the late 1990s)found underwater in Alexandria's harbour (Egypt).

Monday, 7 December 2009

Diver Magazine Christmas Article Part Three - New Underwater Toys for Christmas

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New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The Third Day of Christmas
(Unedited story in 6-parts - Feature for December issue of Canada's Diver Magazine www.divermag.com)

By Stephen Weir


With only a few weeks left until Christmas, the expert buyers at Diver Magazine have once again come to the rescue of weary holiday shoppers with our well-informed gift suggestions. This time, the buyers have zeroed in over 20 last-minute gift suggestions that are all new (or improved) this year.

Holiday trip for divers with deep pockets. Sir Richard Branson the owner of Virgin Air, is leasing his newly refurbished Necker Belle to discerning and rich travelers. The Necker Belle is a magnificent 32-meter long 14-meter wide catamaran that has a top cruising speed of 20 knots! She has a crew of seven, including a dive master and a marine biologist and has four double cabins to accommodate eight divers. Necker Belle will be available for tailor-made weekly Caribbean charters in February 2010. The seven-night weekly charter rate will be $88,000 (plus 25% for food, fuel, etc). www.virginlimitededition.com

Santa says gift will give diver a sense of Zen. There are a number of wristwatch style dive computers and then there is the Zen! The IQ-900 Zen is TUSA's latest full-featured wrist-top, watch style computer. Above water it is a stylish timepiece, underwater it is a powerful air computer, nitrox computer and digital depth gauge/timer (or use it as a free dive depth gauge/timer). The dive computer features an optional deep stop function for additional safety. The deep stop mode is activated when a dive exceeds 24 meter for more than a second. Upon ascent, it will display a deep safety stop screen and the recommended stop depth for a period of 2 minutes. $640 US http://www.tusa.com

He sees you when your diving … Santa doesn’t need one but maybe you do. The new Buddy-Link is an underwater signaling device that lets dive buddies send and receive sound and flashing light alerts. The Buddy-Link “B-Link” transmits ultrasonic signals back and forth between divers through a thumb-size device that easily attaches to the periphery of a mask. The device alerts a diving Buddy by generating a tone and flashing lights when the other Buddy taps the unit. $350 US for 2 Buddy-Link Units. http://buddy-link.com

Booking that Christmas Dive Trip. Published in 2009 Scuba Caribbean by Mary L. Peachin is an up-to-date, island-by-island review of diving in the Caribbean. Aside from the American author’s chapter on diving in Cuba (inaccurate and highly biased) the book is a worthwhile reference tool. Aimed at the sport diver, there is little tech dive information in the book. Foreword by Undercurrent Magazine founder Ben Davison.


BCD Mr. SC SVP! As the name implies, the new Equator BC delivers comfort and performance as you circle the world in search of the ultimate diving experience. Made by Scubapro – UWATE, this buoyancy compensator has a lean, lightweight design. Can be worn over a dive skin in the Caribbean or on top of a dry suit for the Great Lakes. www.scubapro.com
CUTLINE: Far Left. Buddy Link. Near Left. Equator BC
TO BE CONTINUED ... excerpts and dive shorts right up until Christmas Eve, at www.stephenweir.com

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Diver Magazine Christmas Article Part TWO- New Underwater Toys for Christmas

Diver Magazine Christmas Article Part Two - New Underwater Toys for Christmas
… And some will fit in your stocking!


New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The Second Day of Christmas

(Unedited story in 6-parts - Feature for December issue of Canada's Diver Magazine www.divermag.com)

By Stephen Weir

With only a few weeks left until Christmas, the expert buyers at Diver Magazine have once again come to the rescue of weary holiday shoppers with our well-informed gift suggestions. This time, the buyers have zeroed in over 20 last-minute gift suggestions that are all new (or improved) this year.

Last year Nikon Cameras unleashed the Coolpix paper-thin easy-to-use digital camera to the world. This Christmas Ikelite Underwater has launched an underwater housing so that you can now use the Coolpix when diving. The Ikelite ULTRA compact digital housing for Coolpix L19 & L20 cameras is high quality, and built to last. All camera controls are fully functional through the housing and depth rated to 200ft (60m). Easy open latch and drop in camera loading make set-up a snap. $260 US. http://www.ikelite.com

Don’t eat Turtles this Christmas (donate instead).Young Casey Sokolovic (pictured below) was only a third-grader when she first visited a Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. The trip made a lasting impression on Casey. She created her own sea turtle awareness and education program. As part of her efforts, she baked thousands of sea turtle cookies and held bake sales. In her honour OCEANA, a Washington based group dedicated to protecting the World’s Oceans have created a special sea turtle adoption package valued at $200. For more information on Casey: www.Oceana.org/heroes. Diver Magazine is a proud supporter of Oceana.
This Christmas give divers colourful thingies for their wetsuits! Steve Wilson makes colourful strong straps that you attach to your wet suit zippers. No need to ask for help zipping up anymore and you can personalize with your name, or Santa’s for that matter.Steve told Diver that his product – Your Zip Tag is available for shipment to Canada with a 3-day turn around for just $10 US. www.yourbagtag.com

Watch turn heads this Christmas. The OMEGA watch company introduced its Seamaster Ploprof 1200 watch earlier this year. It is a radical update of the 1970 Seamaster 600. It is water resistant to 1200 meters and is used by shallow divers too! The screwed-in crown is located at the 9 o’clock position to prevent inadvertent manipulation underwater. The bezel has a special lock so that it too can’t be accidentally moved during a dive. The Ploprof has an automatic helium escape valve, which allows helium atoms to escape during decompression, (which we are told is useful for professional divers operating from diving bells.). It has a brushed mesh "shark proof" bracelet or you can get a rubber strap. Spokeswoman Amanda Kremer told Diver Magazine the watch is now available in North American jewelry and watch stores. (She also told us about the name – it is the first letters of plongeurs professionnels – French for “professional divers”). $1,500 US. http://www.omega.ch
TO BE CONTINUED... excerpts right up until Christmas Eve, at www.stephenweir.com

Monday, 30 November 2009

Diver Magazine Christmas Article Part One - New Underwater Toys for Christmas

… And some will fit in your stocking!

New Scuba Products For The Holiday This Year - The First Day of Christmas

(Unedited story in 6-parts - Feature for December issue of Canada's Diver Magazine www.divermag.com)

By Stephen Weir

With only a few weeks left until Christmas, the expert buyers at Diver Magazine have once again come to the rescue of weary holiday shoppers with our well-informed gift suggestions. This time, the buyers have zeroed in over 20 last-minute gift suggestions that are all new (or improved) this year.


De Fog in De Stocking
. Nanofilm, a maker of lens care products, has launched Clarity Defog It anti-fog liquid ($5.50 Cdn) and towelettes ($8 Cdn). The new products provide safe, highly effective, long-lasting fog prevention for all lenses including scuba masks. It is sold at Wal-mart Optical. www.nanofilmtechnology.com



Little makes Big Gift: MC-1 mini camera. JW Fishers has been designing and building underwater search equipment for over 35-years. The Massachusetts company recently launched a new underwater mini-camera. The new MC-1 can now tape in North American and European formats. The camera housing is compact, lightweight and good to a depth of 200 meter Its surface tether cord comes in lengths up to 333 meters. It shoots in Black & White and is designed for serious wreck and treasure hunting. http://www.jwfishers.com



First Day Cover puts stamp on Christmas. In October there was an underwater launch held in the Monterey Aquarium for a new series of US postage stamps. Ten new stamps, based on a painting by John D. Dawson showcases 27 animals and fish from the kelp forest ecosystem. The new stamps will be of interest to philatelic divers. The Kelp Forest First Day Cover can be purchased ($6.90) from the US Post office at http://www.usps.com and at many full service Canada Post outlets.

Force the Fin into a stocking (it’s worth the effort).
Yes the shape of the Tan Delta Force Fin may turn heads but it is their performance underwater that turns gawkers into buyers. Built with special polyurethane, the fin is formulated to have the highest rebound or snap. The snap of the blade channels water through its split-V shape fast, to maximize propulsion. The toes-free pocket reduces cramping. $315 US. www.forcefin.com

TUSA UN-MASKS Santa with comfort. TUSA’s new M-28 low-volume mask is both comfortable and affordable. The mask’s unique 2-window design offers exceptional visibility and low-volume comfort. It has a comfy easy-to-adjust head strap (they call it a 3-D Strap) and a ”Round Edge skirt” that reduces pressure on the nose. Can be fitted with prescription lenses. www.tusa.com

TO BE CONTINUED
... excerpts right up until Christmas Eve, at www.stephenweir.com

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Mystical Gods of the North Carvings by Abraham Anghik Ruben

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From Thor to Sedna – The Mystical Gods of the North
Carvings by Abraham Anghik Ruben
November 6th through December 5th.
Organized by the Kipling Gallery


For Inuit carver Abraham Anghik Ruben, the myths stories and legends of Thor, and Odin, are as much a part of the North, as the Goddess Sedna and the Creator-God Anguta. And so on November 5th when the Kipling Gallery opens the doors on a startling new exhibition of Ruben’s stone and bone carvings, images of gods and goddesses, giants, monsters and demons of the north will fill the gallery in Woodbridge.
Reuben’s work will be accompanied by a photo series, “Canadian Inuit, 1946”. National Film Board veteran Canadian photographer George Hunter took the photographs depicting the disappearing nomadic life of the Inuit.
“As an artist I have spent the last 30 years developing my craft and having as the focus of my work the arts and cultural traditions of my Inuit background,” said Abraham Anghik Ruben. “There was extensive contact between my Inuit ancestors who came to Baffin Island and Greenland at the time of the Viking-Norse settlements and expeditions into Canada’s arctic and sub-arctic regions. I have drawn my material (for this show) from both Inuit and Norse myths and legends, historical contact, and to a large part from my own imagination of what may have happened between these two arctic peoples.”
Abraham Anghik Ruben was born in 1951 near Paulatuk in Canada's western arctic. He was one of 15 children born to Billy and Bertha Ruben, who followed a traditional lifestyle revolving around hunting and trapping. In 1971 Abraham enrolled at the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) where he studied contemporary art forms at the Native Arts Centre.
Abraham's work is largely shamanistic in theme, with transformation as a focus. His imagery is mainly based on stories told by his grandparents and extended family. Abraham was named after his paternal grandfather, Ruben Anghik, and his maternal great-grandfather, Apakark, a shaman from Alaska near the Bering Sea.
Abraham's achievements are many. He has work in many important permanent collections over North America, and has had exhibitions in museums and galleries including: The Art Gallery of Ontario, The Museum of Civilization (Hull), The Winnipeg Art Gallery, The Prince of Wales Museum (Yellowknife), The Royal Ontario Museum, The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, The Bayard Gallery (New York) and Appleton Galleries (Vancouver).
The artist lives and works on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. He will be in Woodbridge to attend the show’s official launch on Thursday, November 19th from 5:30 to 10:00 pm. 88-year old George Hunter will also be at the opening.
Kipling Gallery proudly devotes itself to the promotion and sale of original fine art. The wide and varied inventory includes highly collectible historical Canadiana, important Inuit sculptures of first rank, and choice works from the studios of over 45 contemporary artists living locally and worldwide. The gallery, located at 7938 Kipling Avenue, in downtown Woodbridge is open Mondays to Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. www.kiplinggallery.com

Cutlines: Left - Odin's Story_76.5x45.0x55.0cm_Brazilian Soapstone. Abraham Anghik Ruben. Right - Pork, Hattie and grandson Ikkat. 1946. George Hunter.

For further information, to organize and interview or to receive high-resolution photographs, contact:

Media contacts:
Stephen Weir 416-489-5868 / c. 416-801-3101 / Stephen@stephenweir.com
Linda Crane 905-257-6033 / c. 416-727-0112 / cranepr@cogeco.ca

Gallery Contact:

Rocco Pannese – owner
(905) 265-2192
info@kiplinggallery.com

Monday, 26 October 2009

Robet Bateman Wows Them In Stroud - Earthlinks

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ROBERT BATEMAN TALKS ECO-AWARENESS IN STROUD, ONTARIO.

What would make the planet healthier and a better place to live? According to artist and eco-activist Robert Bateman, it is as simple as making sure that our children go for a nature walk ever day.
"Leave the Play Station, Internet and TV behind and enjoy the outdoors," the artist told a Standing-Room-Only crowd at the Georgina Arts Centre & Gallery in Sutton, Ontario on Saturday October 21st. "Through an understanding of our great outdoors and the balance of nature, our children will get a better understanding of the ecological challenges we all face."
Saturday was the International Day of Action on Climate Change and the British Columbia based artist was in Stroud to talk about children and the environment and to show and sell more than 100 pieces of his work. About fifty people attended his one-hour lecture in a basement hall and then jammed the upstairs gallery to talk to the artist while he signed books, paintings and art prints.
Robert Bateman has been a man with a mission in October. Prior to flying out to Toronto the 79-year old artist was in St. Petersburg, Russia to open a four-city tour of a retrospective exhibition of his work.
Four galleries in Russia will be showing his work over the next six months. On October 8th the State Russian Museum in the Mikhailovsky Palace, St. Petersburg was the first art gallery to show the exhibition ROBERT BATEMAN IN RUSSIA. This is the first time a Canadian wildlife artist has been invited to show his works in Russia.
"When I arrived in St. Petersburg I was dismayed that the English language entertainment paper wasn't listing my show," he told me on Saturday. "The museum staff laughed and told me not to worry, that my exhibition wasn't for tourists, it was for the Russian people. They were right! The local press were excited about the show and the people came out (and continue to do so)."







CUTLINE: Top Left - Sign out front of the Stroud gallery. Top Right - Robert Bateman (left) signs the frame of one of his wildlife art prints for a Stroud, Ontario fan. Bottom Left - The Georgina Arts Centre and Gallery was filled with people waiting in to talk to artist Robert Bateman. Bottom Right - Robert Bateman talks about his art to a standing-room-only crowd at the Georgina Arts Centre and Gallery in Stroud, Ontario.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Diver Death Near One of The Upper Key's Oldest Dive Sites

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BULLETIN: BELOW IS A STORY POSTED OCTOBER 21st. ON NOVEMBER 15th NEWS REPORTS OUT OF CDNN NEWS SAY THAT JOHNSIE HUDSPETH 59, A REALTOR IN ELKIN, FLORIDA DIED AFTER SHE ENCOUNTERED PROBLEMS WHILE DIVING OFF THE AMORAY DIVE BOAT ( THE SAME OUTFIT THAT LARRY REEVES WAS DIVING WITH WHEN HE DOVE ON THE BENWOOD) AT MOLASSES REEF. (MOLASSES REEF IS ADJACENT TO THE BENWOOD).


Dive boats operating within the John Pennekamp State Park Underwater Preserve have been taking divers to the wreck of the Benwood for 50 years. Picturesque. Shallow (50ft max,) close to shore, the Benwood is considered a safe dive and is suitable for novice scuba divers. However on Tuesday August 20th, the body of a diver was pulled from the Florida Keys waters close to the Benwood.
According a U.S. Coast Guard press release, a 67-year-old Blount County man died Tuesday in a scuba accident in the Florida Keys. Larry Reeves of Maryville, TN was diving on or near the Benwood wreck dive site, four miles east of Rodriguez Key, according to the Coast Guard.
Crew members from the Coast Guard Station in Islamorada responded about 2:30 p.m. to a call from the Coral Princess I (a glass bottom snorkeling boat that was being used for an Army Ranger training charter) of an unconscious diver on the Key Largo flat-top pontoon dive boat The Amoray. Reeves was brought on board the Coral Princess 1 and off-duty Army and Navy medical personnel who were on the glass bottom boat began administering CPR. After 20-minutes CPR efforts were reportedly ended.
A Coast Guard crew escorted the two boats to the Port Largo Marina where marine casualty investigators and deputies from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office were waiting to begin investigations into the incident.
UPDATE: Two days after the death of Mr. Reeves, a TN TV station is quoting his wife as saying that she was in the water as his scuba-diving partner when the accident happened -- she said that he became unconscious shortly after entering the water Tuesday afternoon to explore the Benwood.
The Benwood, a WW2 Victory ship was sunk in 1942 after colliding with another ship - The Tuttle - both were travelling without lights to avoid German submarines. Because she was close to shore much of the ship was stripped before being declared a protected wreck in 1959.
I used the Benwood for a photo shoot earlier this year. The picture above was taken beside the coral encrusted bow. The bow is the most intact part of the ship. One Florida dive website describes why the ship is popular with divers: "the primary deck has been punctured in many places forming a network of "nooks and crannies." These provide important fish habitat but are not large enough to allow diver entry."
Much of the is scattered around the bottom, making for an interesting, photo friendly dive. So safe is the dive that can be a waiting line of charter boats to moor up to the Benwood's marker buoys.
Obituary for the late Larry Reeves: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/knoxnews/obituary.aspx?n=larry-herman-reeves&pid=134831111
CUTLINE - Knoxnews TV posted a map showing the location of the Benwood Wreck and where the body of a Maryville TN diver was found.
Stephen Weir photographing the hull of the Benwood - February 2009.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

McMichael Canadian Art Collection curator, Anna Stanisz beside "Lone Figure", from the new Nunannguaq: In the Likeness of the Earth exhibition


McMichael Canadian Art Collection curator, Anna Stanisz beside the "Lone Figure", a carving from the new Nunannguaq: In the Likeness of the Earth exhibition
Anna Stanisz is the curator of the new exhibition Nunannguaq: In the Likeness of the Earth now showing at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. This exhibition marks the fiftieth anniversary of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative and celebrates the remarkable achievement of the internationally acclaimed artistic community of Cape Dorset (Kinngait). The show features a large selection of prints, drawings, and sculptures spanning three generations of Cape Dorset artists. Ms. Stanisz stands beside a stone sculpture(The Lone Figure, 2006) carved by Jutai Toonoo.
The new exhibition Nunannguaq: In the Likeness of the Earth will be on display at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario until January 17, 2010. The gallery is open 7-days a week from 10am until 4pm.
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is located at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, Ontario. For directions visit www.mcmichael.com. For more information and pictures from the show please contact Stephen Weir, 416-489-5868, stephen@stephenweir.com.
photo by Stephen Weir

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

COMING TO NEW HAMPSHIRE IN OCTOBER? DON’T FORGET YOUR FLAMING PUMPKIN

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COMING TO NEW HAMPSHIRE IN OCTOBER? DON’T FORGET YOUR FLAMING PUMPKIN

Flaming pumpkins, Skeletons, and Scarecrows have taken over New Hampshire and are dyin’ to put a friendly scare on visitors. Canadian travelers consider yourself warned!
Pumpkin festivals, haunted houses and other delightfully ghoulish attractions are spooking up the Granite State this October. Looking for a screaming good vacation? Attractions and Howl-aween events range from an actual haunted ghost town to the world-renowned children friendly Pumpkin Festival in Keene.
No need to ask your Ouija Board about what to do in New Hampshire this Halloween season. Here are just a few things that are sure to rattle your chains and scare up some great travel ideas!
Ghost Town At Six Gun City. Take part in a Sooktacular Halloween Adventure every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October. The White Mountains’ amusement park (near Jefferson), has unlimited free rides and shows. Young ghouls and goblins get in touch with their "inner compass" as they weave their way through a corn maze, while adults and teens will enjoy scary attractions such as the Haunted Boot Hill, and the Undertaker's House.www.ghosttownatsixguncity.com/
Canaboie Lake Park. This 106-year old amusement park advertises that its month-long Screemfest festival is where “Fear Meets Fun”. The park, located near the city of Salem, has evening Monster Parades, a Monster Rock & Roll Bash and a wild and weird magic and variety show called Circus of the Strange. Group visitors can arrange for a visit from the Screemfest hearse. Even their website is scary, see it if you dare: www.canobiehaunts.com.
The Haunted Goullog. The Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway, New Hampshire, has created the only Mountaintop haunted Halloween happening in New England! Visitors take a nighttime chairlift ride to the top of Cranmore Mountain where haunted happenings are sure to frighten and surprise the hardiest souls. www.cranmore.com/ghoullog.
Haunted Acres. The town of Epping’s Haunted Acres is set in an 1860's Western ghost town. This is where you will find the Skeleton Saloon & Hotel, the Dark Maze, the 3D Nuclear Accident House, and the Quarter Mile Nightmare Walk (a walk through the woods that is not for the faint of heart). Visitors can also play Zombie Shoot-Out Live! – fire paint ball funs at actors dressed as monster set in a haunted Western town. http://hauntedacresnh.com .
Keene Pumpkin Festival. This year the 19th annual all-day festival will be held on Saturday, October 17, 2009. In the evening there is a pumpkin light (a tower of flaming pumpkins) followed by fireworks. During the day the entire family can take part in a costume parade, a seed spitting and pie eating contests, live music on three stages, and lots of chances to eat homemade pumpkin pie. http://www.pumpkinfestival.org.
Return of the Pumpkin People. The pumpkin people have already arrived in Jackson and they are expected to hang around the downtown area until Friday October 23, 2009. For the past 20 years the residents of Jackson and the downtown businesses, have decorated their properties with people and animals that have real pumpkin heads. www.jacksonnh.com.
To find out more about New Hampshire or to receive a free visitor’s guide, call 1-800-FUN-IN-NH (386-4664) or visit www.visitnh.gov. Canadian travel trade and media may call 1-888-423-3995, or email visitnh@travelmarketingexperts.com.
WRITER'S NOTE- The actual press release sent out to Canadian travel writers was an edited down version of this release.
CUTLINE: the two flaming pumpkins is a photo taken from Flickr at: www.squidoo.com/AutumninNewEngland

Thursday, 1 October 2009

New Hampshire Tourist Industry Newsletter article

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FROM THE FALL ISSUE OF MAPLE GAZETTE
By STEPHEN WEIR


The Most Beautiful Time of The Year - Fall Colours

Mother Nature's annual rite of fall is spectacular in New Hampshire with an explosion of rich and vibrant colours blanketing the Granite state. With a 6,288-foot elevation change within the state, leap peepers around the world can follow the spectacular fall foliage from the lower altitude valleys to the highest peaks in New England.
Since the date for peak colour changes, depending on where you are in the state, what elevation you are at and varying weather patterns, New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development has launched its popular and interactive foliage tracker map at http://foliage.visitnh.gov. Leaf peepers can also sign-up for foliage text alerts and updates on Twitter (www.twitter.com/VisitNH) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/VisitNH).
Fall is an ideal time for Canadians to visit New Hampshire with the spectacular fall colours and many properties throughout the state offer excellent value fall packages, (http://www.visitnh.gov/where-to-stay/packages.aspx).

Why come to the Granite State to see the blazing colours of Autumn?

With the dollar close to par and no sales tax in New Hampshire it is also a great time to get a head start on holiday shopping. One of the most enjoyable and relaxing ways to experience New Hampshire's fall foliage is by train.
There are a number of departures this fall for various fall foliage train excursions from one hour in duration to full day trips including meals and refreshments. The price is as low as $13 US per person. For complete details on dates, prices, times please visit www.foliagetrains.com.
Fall is of course harvest time and there are many opportunities throughout the state where visitors can visit farmer's markets, agricultural fairs and festivals, and pick your own farms. Check out http://www.visitnh.gov/best-time-to-visit/harvest/ for complete details on dates of festivals, scenic drives, harvest itneraries and farmers' markets.
To find out more about New Hampshire or to receive a free visitor's guide, consumers can call 1-800-FUN-IN-NH (386-4664) or visit www.visitnh.gov. Canadian travel trade and media may call 1-888-423-3995, or email visitnh@travelmarketingexperts.com.
Photo from Kportimages' photostream on FLICKR

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Robert Bateman set to head to Russia for his first major European show

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Linda Crane and myself have been hired as publicists to promote Robert Bateman's first Russian traveling show. CP received our press release and decided to do a story. After 14 hours over 24 newsources used the story and/or picture

Robert Bateman set to head to Russia for his first major European show
By Victoria Ahearn (CP) – 23 hours ago
TORONTO — Famed wildlife artist Robert Bateman is preparing for his first major European exhibition, a four-gallery tour in Russia that will highlight his passion for protecting nature.
"I presume it's a feather in my cap," Bateman, 79, said Friday in a telephone interview from his home in Salt Spring Island, B.C.
"Although I have been in a few art museums in Canada, often art museums in Canada turn up their nose at wildlife art so it's nice to be hanging under the same roof for example as Kandinsky."
"Robert Bateman in Russia" will open at the Russian Museum's main building, Mikhailovsky Palace, in St. Petersburg on Oct. 8 and run there until Nov. 30.
It will then move on to the Tula Museum of Art, the Ivanovo Regional Art Museum and then Tsarytsyno Park, Bread House in Moscow, ending in August 2010.
Featured are 50 canvasses gleaned from private owners, institutions and Bateman's personal collection.
All of his major environmental pieces are in the show, including one he considers to be his most "hard-hitting": An underwater scene of a dead Pacific White-sided Dolphin and albatross caught in a driftnet.
"My message is that we seem to think that nature is a free lunch and there is no free lunch," he said of that particular painting, which has a real driftnet mounted on its front.
Also in the show are paintings depicting polar bears, bald eagles, an oil spill and one "that's giving a kick in the teeth to big logging, which of course is not sustainable the way we've been going," he said.
Bateman has also created a few new works as an homage to Russia's outdoor life, including one depicting a brown bear, that country's national symbol.
"I've got a very large, I think mine is a Kodiak Alaskan, brown bear emerging from the foot of a waterfall, where he's obviously been fishing for salmon," said Bateman.
"He's sort of coming out of the mist and about to walk past you and then at the last minute he turns and gives you a dirty look."
Overall, the show is "mostly about the wonder and beauty of nature," he said.
"That's what my whole life has been dedicated to showing how wonderful and varied nature is."
The show was made possible by Michael Yanney, former chairman of the board for the Joslyn Fine Art Museum in Omaha, Neb., where Bateman has had a major show.
Bateman plans to fly to Russia on Oct. 4 and stay for a few days with his wife, Birgit. Canada's ambassador to Russia, Ralph Lysyshyn, plans to attend the opening, as will Yanney.
Bateman won't be giving a lecture at the opening but said there will be a colour catalogue accompanying it.
"I hope the paintings will kind of speak for themselves and the Russians will get the message," said Bateman, who toured wetlands in Tokyo in the 1990s when he had a major exhibition at the Canadian Embassy there.
"Most of the messages I say are just about how spectacular and glorious nature is and how lucky we are to be alive at this time when there still is a bunch of nature out there to look at."

Monday, 21 September 2009

Police call of search for missing diver - Grand Cayman Island



FINAL UPDATE - Following the announcement that the search for Charles Lynn Titus has ended, his family issued a statement to the media.
“On behalf of the entire family of Charles Lynn Titus, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for all the unconditional support and kindness from the community of Grand Cayman in the search and ongoing recovery of our beloved family member,” the statement said.
“The amount of time, resources and dedication to this tragic situation from the staff of Divers Down, the Grand Cayman police department, the staff at the Marriott Grand Cayman Resort and from all the volunteer boaters and divers has been unequivocal. Our family will be forever grateful for the immediate and relentless attention to this catastrophic event.”
THURSDAY UPDATE - The Cayman Police announced today (Thursday 24th) that the search for a missing American Diver has been called off. The 60 year old missing diver has been identified as Charles Lynn Titus.
A Las Vegas television station describe Mr. Titus as a commercial litigation attorney with the Nevada law firm Santoro, Driggs, Walch, Kearney, Holley & Thompson.
He was also an author, having recently published his first novel, "Vegas Diaries: A Dish Served Cold."
On Wednesday (today), the Canadian owned dive shop - Divetech - conducted a deepwater search for the missing diver. As of 11pm EST this evening, the diver continues to be listed as missing.
Tuesday morning the Cayman Government announced that the search for the missing diver continues. "Combined Marine Unit," said the government. "Department of Environment and private craft searches for a missing diver resumed along Grand Cayman’s North Wall Tuesday morning."
MONDAY'S POST: Cayman Lime Radio reported this evening that the search continues for a 60-year old Las Vegas tourist who went missing during a morning dive.
The Cayman Compass is reporting that the Treasure Island Resort at 9.40am called emergency officials to say that a diver had gone missing on a boat dive at Eagle Ray Path, North Wall, just outside the Main Channel.
A search operation commenced involving private dive boats, Department of Environment boats, Marine Unit craft Tornado and Defender as well as the Cayman Islands Helicopters aircraft. The Marine Unit dive team has also carried out a search of the area.
Police said the man was last seen at around 9.20am when the group was ascending at the end of a dive. He has not been seen since.
The man is described as wearing a short black wet suit with grey trim and a tank with a yellow top.
Cutline: Eagle Ray Path is the last site on the right side of the middle fold on the map shown left.
LINK - to see a photo of the dive site, Eagle Ray Path visit AKASharkman's Flickr account http://www.flickr.com/photos/akasharkman/297491586/ (note that he has mistakenly labeled the dive site as Eagle Ray Pass and not Eagle Ray Path .

SIDEBAR - where to take you camera underwater in Southern Florida

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Sidebar #3
Five Great Places To Dive and Take
Underwater Photographs in the Florida Keys

Sidebars for Stephen Weir article in Diver Magazine October 2009
1. Biscayne National Park - 95% of this park is underwater. Outstanding reefs covered in picturesque elk horn coral. Shipwrecks abound. Northern tip of the Florida Keys.
2. Wreck of the USN Spiegel Grove. 510ft retired warship scuttled to create artificial reef, 6 mi offshore of Key Largo. Ship originally lay on its side but after Hurricane Dennis (‘05), the ship is now upright 130 ft down. Experienced divers only.
3. Jules’ Undersea Lodge. La Chalupa Underwater Research Lab has been converted to world’s only underwater hotel. Its 2 rooms have glass picture windows onto the reef, air-conditioning, hot showers, a stocked galley, and unlimited diving! Key Largo
4. Ten-Fathom Ledge - Unusual coral caves and dramatic overhangs provide refuge for both lobster and grouper, while pelagic life frequently cruises by. Key West
5. Tortugas Bank, 70 miles west of Key West (near Fort Jefferson) is the largest an ecological reserve in North America. The ultimate south Florida dive. The reef has large coral overhangs, caverns and large swim-throughs. The water depths range from 45' to 80' with an average visibility of 50' to 120'.

Sidebar #4
Five Great Places To Snorkel and Take
Underwater Photographs in the Florida Keys

Sidebars for Stephen Weir article in Diver Magazine October 2009
1. Statue of Christ of the Abyss - The bronze statue rises so close to the water's surface that snorkelers can easily view it. The statue is nestled between the coral formations of the Dry Rocks Reef in just 25 ft of water.
2. Coffin's Patch - This is not a single reef but a conglomerate of six patch reefs, each with a different predominant coral species. Snorkelers head for the elkhorn forests found in less than 21 ft of water. Marathon.
3. Bahia Honda State Park – Snorkel boats leave the park daily for the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary approximately 5 mi offshore. The sanctuary marked by majestic slopes, ledges and 7000 years of coral growth. Swim down to a cave in 12 ft of water. Coral reef nursery inhabited by young coral recruits, juvenile fish and green conch.
4. Sand Key – Key West’s most popular snorkel reef destinations. This islet, (look for a large iron lighthouse) has an abundance and variety of coral and marine life over a 10-mi stretch of shallow coral reefs.
5. Dry Tortugas National Park boasts some of the best snorkeling in North America. Colorful tropical fish live amongst the pristine living coral. Directly accessible from the white sand beach are the shallow Fort Jefferson snorkeling areas make this area perfect for beginners and experts. 70 mi west of Key West.

SIDEBAR - Who's riding onboard the dive boat

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SIDEBAR# 1 FOR DIVER MAGAZINE ARTICLE (printed in next item below this)

South Florida Diving Headquarters’ Manifest:
A slice of Americana (with a Canuck thrown in)


The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker is so one hour ago. Try three legless vets, three holidaying tattooed DEA divers, a spear totting husband and wife and a self-confessed air points whore.
One morning late in April, the following signed up for a morning of diving.
• Three members of SUDS (Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba). One man lost both legs in Afghanistan. The other two each lost a leg in Iran. They are accompanied by a wife and Captain John W. Thompson, president of SUDS.
The group tries to dive in Pompano once every 3-months. The men don’t talk much, but, the Afghanistan vet, walking in full gear on two stumps cut above the knees, says that underwater he “isn’t disabled”. The trip is sponsored in part by Body Glove.
• Seth Miller is a freelance computer expert and an avid collector of air miles. For almost two years Miller has been buying the cheapest airline tickets he can find that give him the most air mile points possible. The farther he can travel with the most number of stops, the happier he is. And if he gets bumped? Nirvana.
Why does he do this? He is collecting air miles to take his wife first class to Singapore. Unique? He says not. In his travels he meets other people just like him and they swap information about the best deals out there. Check out his website at: www.wanderingaramean.com.
• Spear totting mama. The 40-something couple is playing hooky from work to go diving to catch dinner. They are dropped off a distance from the rest of the divers. They catch nothing let a big lobster live (out-of-season). I overhear them mutter “Hamburger Helper Tonight” as I walked to the head.
• Three Drug Enforcement Agents, one of who is on the DEA dive team. He has a massive tattoo of a hard hat on his chest and smaller one on his arm. They are taking a day-off work, “No Pictures Please”.
• 60-year old Florida retiree wears a Montreal Expo jersey and keeps to himself near the bow of the pontoon boat. At the end of the 2-tank charter he apologizes for being unsocialable … “ I’m seasick prone.”

CUTLINES:
Top left. One of South Florida Diving Headquarters’ four dive boats. Pontoon boat has a head, two engines, easy to mount ladders, Coast Guard approved life jackets, snacks, drinks and water. Pompano Beach boat usually goes out twice a day and makes the occassional night dive as well.
Middle. Members of SUDS left their legs in the car when they went diving.
Right. The South Florida Diving Headquarters’ dive shop dog has acquired a taste for compressed air. Waits patiently beside the tanks for someone to give him a shot.
All photos by Stephen Weir. Larger versions of these pictures can be seen on my photography page http://www.stephenweir.com/gallery1/main.php?g2_page=3

SIDEBAR - Contacts for Diver story about Florida diving

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SIDEBAR #2 - STAYING IN TOUCH

Florida Keys & Key West Visitors Bureau,
Key West FL
800-FLA-KEYS.
www.fla-keys.com.
Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
Fort Lauderdale, FL
800-356-1662
www.sunny.org
Olympus Imaging America Inc.
Center Valley, PA
www.getolympus.com
underwater@olympus.com
Pro Dive International
429 Seabreeze Blvd.
www.prodiveusa.com
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
(954) 776-3483
Quiescence Diving Services, Inc
Key Largo, FL 33037
305.451.2440 phone
www.keylargodiving.com
South Florida Diving Headquarters
101 N. Riverside Dive
Pompano Beach, Florida
www.southfloridadiving.com
MV Spree
Live Aboard Charter Boat
Key West, Florida
http://www.spreeexpeditions.com/dry_tortugas.asp
Martin Štěpánek
Performance Free Diving
Pompano Beach, Florida
martin.stepanek@performancefreediving.com
Underwater Music Festival
Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
Phone:(305)872-2411
www.lowerkeyschamber.com/underwatermusicfest.htm
Visit Florida
Toronto, Ontario office
1-800-268-3791
www.VISITFLORIDA.com
Stephen Weir
2482 Yonge St. # 45032
Toronto, ON.
www.stephenweir.com
Stephen@stephenweir.com

cutline: Pompano Beach artist shows her latest creation - a dive map printed on a long sleeve shirt.