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.

SIDEBAR - All dive photographs taken with Olympus cameras

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SIDEBAR 3

All of the photographs used in Diver Magazine's feature on diving in south Florida were taken with Olympus cameras -- most using a new Tough 8000. The camera is shock proof, waterproof to 33 feet and is relatively goof proof (perfect for a writer who has been taking bad underwater pictures for more than 30 years).
The use of the shockproof camera had me thinking about Tough jokes. Here is a sample.

Tough underwater camera humour


Police call to the wife of a diver. We have good news and bad news. The bad news? Your husband is dead; he was run over twice by a van. The good news? His Tough 8000 waterproof camera still works!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Best dive spots in the Florida Keys, Miami and Fort Lauderdale

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Original version of story which appears in this month's Diver Magazine (http://www.divermag.com/v2/index.php)


Florida Redux
Battered, Shaken and Baked, But Still Going Strong
By Stephen Weir


Bleeding ankle – rusty spur lurking inside a sunken tanker. Sliced shin – rogue wave hits while seal-hopping onto bobbing stern platform. A divine blessing – but no miracle cures – from a reef bound Jesus. From Key West to Pompano Beach, field-testing an underwater camera is a full contact sport.
There is a scuba highway that stretches from the tip of the Florida Keys to the hyper-busy Greater Fort Lauderdale Airport. More than 650,000 snorkelers and divers travel this route every year, making it the most popular dive destination in the world.
Accessible. A rich variety of dive sites. Government regulated boats. North America’s biggest scuba stores. Relatively cheap places. No wonder the southern tip of Florida is the place to dive, dive, dive. And, if you are testing a camera, the place to dive shoot, dive shoot, dive shoot.
Nothing much is permanent in the Florida Keys. Hurricanes, fetid mangrove swamps, sand blasting prevailing winds and punishing waves are big reasons why people don’t build to last. Everything is so temporary … except underwater.
The 221-mile coastal reef is the third largest reef system in the world. It is also the only living coral reef in the continental US.
This ribbon of coral is far from pristine. Battered and bruised from pollution, habitat fragmentation, warming waters, construction, boaters, fishing, snorkelers and clumsy diving photographers, the Florida Reef limps along.
What has kept the reef just barely off life support has been a strong government driven conservation movement. It started in 1963 off Key Largo, with the making of the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This was the first undersea park created in the United States. A decade later the Feds moved in to create the 2,800-acre Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary, and the Fort Jefferson and Dry Tortugas National Park. Two years ago the US Congress designated the remaining 2,800 sq nautical miles surrounding the Keys as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. All of these areas permit and encourage controlled diving, and snorkeling.
For the past two decades one of the keys (pun sort of intended) to limiting diver damage to the reef has been to develop new sites to visit and photograph. In Miami and Fort Lauderdale, ships, army tanks, and even oilrigs have been sunk to create the world’s biggest collection of diveable junk! The Florida Keys has artificial reefs and hopes to soon add a famous warship to its underwater inventory.
Early in 09 Diver Magazine made a number of trips to southern Florida to dive and test a new Tough 8000 Olympus underwater camera. The sheer number of different dive sites and the variety of diving available make south Florida the best place to try out equipment and take pictures of really neat underwater things!
The Tough 8000 is a new generation of camera, which doesn’t need a housing to 33 feet. You can drive a van over it. In a lecture to students I have slammed one onto the concrete and then took a picture (I am not crazy, it was a loaner). Put inside a housing for deeper diving, the camera is safe even if there is flooding – something that I have done to cameras more than once.
South Florida is divided into three distinct areas. Key West and Fort Jefferson are at the bottom of the chain, followed by the upper Keys and, Miami /Fort Lauderdale.


Key West / Fort Jefferson

The Dry Tortugas are a group of seven islands that lie 70 miles west of Key Largo in the Gulf of Mexico. Construction on Fort Jefferson began in 1846, and although never finished, the massive brick structure has always remained an important part of Florida life.
Now a National Park and an underwater ecological reserve, the area is known for its colourful healthy reefs, clear visibility, abundant fish life (250+ species) including the photographer’s dream, the large Goliath Grouper. The islands have campsites, empty sand beaches and good snorkeling close to shore.
There are half a dozen Key West dive boats that offer daylong trips to island. There are also live-aboards, including the newly repositioned Spree (a popular Texas live-aboard) that have 2-4 night trips to waters around Fort Jefferson.
The lively reefs start close to the surface and roll down to a depth of 140 ft. Most of the dives are in the 30 to 80 ft range and, because of current many of the dives are drifts.
The Fort Jefferson charter is a dawn to dusk commitment. However, there are other Key West options. The waters around the city are shallow. The reefs roll across the bottom, with sand canyons and swim throughs puncturing the underwater landscape. There is a harbour full of dive boats ranging in size from six packs to large group charters ready to take divers to oft-visited sites.
Most dive shops take divers to one of two shipwrecks near the port. Photographers ask for Joe’s Tug, a wreck that sits at 75ft. What makes her so photogenic is a hurricane that almost turned the coral encrusted tug inside out.
Joe’s Tug and the deep wreck of the 180 ft. Cayman Salvager are about to lose their luster. After 8-years of trying (funding problems, partner bankruptcy, and ecological concerns) a mammoth 520 ft. long steel hulled warship named the US Vandenberg, will be scuttled to create North America’s second largest artificial reef. (The 911ft aircraft carrier Oriskany lies on the bottom near Pensacola, Florida).





Looe Key to Biscayne Park


Diving is just one small part of what makes Key West tick. It is a party-town, a military base, and a cruise ship port and home to the best restaurants south of Miami. Experienced travelers looking for more dive-centric accommodations tend to stay farther north, beginning with the Looe Key district.
Looe Key is a reef, not, a town – land is five miles away and the closest civilization is a number of hotels and dive shops on Big Pine Key and the Bahia Honda State campgrounds.
British divers chuckle at the name, but the “Looe” moniker comes from an 18th century shipwreck named the Looe. It now refers to a large U-shaped groove and spur reef (Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary). Photographers looking for unblemished staghorn and elkhorn corals, growing close to the surface make a trip to the Looe.
Eleven years ago, the 210ft long freighter, the Adolphus Busch was sunk to create an artificial reef nearby. A 250 lb grouper now lives in the ship’s wheelhouse and will usually hold still for photographers. The deck starts at 80ft, the keel of the ship is below 100ft.
One of the strangest annual events takes place at Looe Key Reef. Held in July, boaters, divers and snorkelers head out to the reef to take in a six-hour underwater musical concert. Giant underwater speakers are hung beneath boats and divers in strange costumes (from Elvis to the Little Mermaid) mime to the music. Its purpose? To promote marine preservation and let people dive in drag!
The Thunderbolt is another popular wreck for photographers. Usually current free, She sits perfectly upright in 115 feet of water. After 23-years on the bottom her superstructure is coated with colorful sponge, coral, and hydroid.
The 188ft wreck is close to the small city of Marathon and the Seven Mile Bridge (it is that long long bridge that Hollywood moviemakers like to drive cars off of). The city of 10,000 straddles 14 small islands, has a hospital for sailors and a veterinary clinic for rescued Sea Turtles. Continental services Marathon’s airport.
If the Keys are the world’s most popular dive destination, then the city of Key Largo is the epicenter of all things underwater. In fact most of Diver Magazine’s camera testing took place in the waters around Key Largo. Deep-water wrecks, croc-infested mangroves, an underwater hotel and the world’s most photographed underwater statue are just a few of the reasons why the scuba industry is so embedded on the northernmost island of the Keys.
Diver Magazine spent hours underwater in Key Largo’s protected John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. We dove and took pictures on shallow reefs 6 mi off the east coast of the Keys. High seas and cold water (70 – 72 degrees in the winter months)) kept us off the deepwater wreck of the Spiegel Grove, a 510 ft Navy ship intentionally scuttled in 2002. We were able to dive the 72-year wreck of the Benwood at a depth of 40ft.
Now that isn’t very deep. Most snorkelers can free dive close enough to take a snapshot of the disintegrating iron hulled Victory Ship. But, even at depth many of the colours of the spectrum can’t be seen. On the Benwood the only way to capture the blood red sponges that are affixed to the deck, is by illuminating the animals with a strobe.
The sandy bottom around the stern of the wreck is a zone of quiet from waves and current. However, seeing divers setting up a photo shoot with a shipwreck is of never-ending fascination to the dozen divers in the water that day.
It’s hard to take fish and wreck pictures with spectators swimming into the frame and waving at the photographer (me!). But, it got better, possibly thanks to some help from the Creator? On a freakishly cold, grey February day we were able to miraculously have the world’s most popular dive site to ourselves!
Most divers and snorkelers make at least one underwater pilgrimage to the planet’s most famous works of art - the Christ of the Deep statue. Created by Italian sculptor Guido Galletti, the statue stands on a 20-ton concrete base in 24 ft of water. 9 ft tall, the bronze statue has become the most photographed subsurface site in the world and is a to-drown-for spot for underwater weddings.
The Saviour stands amongst the living coral with His hands raised towards Heaven. When the sun is high overhead a natural halo of light appears around His head. Visited daily by snorkel and dive boats, it is not unusual for people to describe their swim to the statue as inspirational and uplifting.
Christ’s shoulders are covered in fire coral. The ship’s captain from the Quiescence Dive Shop says that it is divine intervention against drunken boaters who regularly swim down and straddle the head of Jesus. Life is tough for the sculpture -- a second casting of Christ of the Deep was sunk in Italian waters – scuba vandals cut off His arms early in ‘09.
Where else in America but the Keys will you see more dive flags at the side of the highway than golden arches? Despite the traffic there are a couple of secrets that divers can still discover.
Secret #1 Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo. The name says it all, to enter the 2-unit hotel you must scuba dive 21 feet down to the structure’s “Moon Door” in the floor. Jules -- short for Jules Verne -- is the world’s only completely submerged hotel, and, not surprisingly offers unlimited diving in the surrounding waters of the mangrove lagoon in which Jules' is located. Tropical angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, and snappers peek in the windows of the habitat, while anemones, sponges, oysters and feather duster worms seem to cover every inch of this underwater world. One night’s stay is about $400 US - tanks and weight belts provided.
Secret #2 - Best place to hide a world-class dive site within sight of downtown Miami. The Biscayne National Park is located north of Key Largo a few miles south of Miami on Biscayne Bay. But, because of a dearth of roads it is a long haul from both the city and Key Largo. Divers have to drive through the community of Homestead near the Everglades to get into the park. It is worth the trek, the reefs in the Park are as pristine as one is going to find in South Florida.
There are virtually no roads within the park – it is meant to be explored by boat. A dive service operates in the Park and offers the only wall dives in the Keys. Their "Shipwreck Trail" includes six wrecks spanning a century of history.

Miami to Pompano Beach


You shouldn’t pick a dive site by its airport but ... it is faster and easier to fly in and out of Greater Fort Lauderdale (GFL) than it is to the mammoth Miami International. In April it took 30 minutes to get from the GFL luggage carousel to a Pompano Beach dive boat. And since one of the shops, the South Florida Diving Headquarters, operates 2-tank dives in the morning and afternoon and a 1-tank night dive, you can fly in almost anytime and dive the jetlag away in the waters off the coast of Florida’s two biggest population centers.
Even though there are about 7-million people living in the two cities – the region is the 4th largest urban area in the US – the waters abound with sea-life. A steady northbound current of clean warm water hugs the coastline feeding and nurturing a healthy band of coral reefs, which in turn spawns a healthy community of both reef and oversized pelagics.
South Florida's Greater Fort Lauderdale area is acclaimed for its underwater attributes. Its spectacular three-tiered natural reef system, offering, in many locations, quick access from the city's numerous beaches, is difficult to match.
Here diving is a huge part of the tourism industry. Divers of every level are catered to. Spear fishing. Lobster hunting. Sport divers. Tech, rebreathers all get a seat on the more than two dozen charter boats operating in GFL.
There are a variety of swimming and diving festivals in the region. As well there is an annual lobster hunt. The 2-day July lobster hunt is a frenzy of activity as hundreds of divers jump into the warm coastal water looking for lobsters. An almost equal number of divers exit the water too (dive fatalities are not unusual during the mini-season frenzy) … most carrying a bag of bugs!
In Fort Lauderdale a newly relaunched Pro-Dive teaches divers from around the world how to become commercial and professional divers. And, in Pompano Beach, the centre of the city’s dive industry, Martin Stepanek, who has set a world’s free diving record (since broken), has a school you have to hold your breath to get in.
In addition to the reef dives there are now more than 80 artificial reefs created in Fort Lauderdale and a further 12 permanent sites off Miami. These reefs have been created to enhance the growth of marine animal and plant life in the region and to foster their growing dive industry.
In recent years the two cities combined have sunk everything from a margarita bar, a 435-ft freighter to a 94-ft DC-4 airplane.
As the self -proclaimed "Wreck Capital of the United States”, Greater Fort Lauderdale enhances the in-water experience, with a number of annual special events such as the Ocean Fest Dive & Adventure Sports Expo and Pompano Beach’s April three day Seafood Festival held right on the sand.
Highlights at this year’s Pompano Seafood Festival? Aside from the beach-bound food stands, and dive shop booths was a demonstration by free-diver Martin Štěpánek in a traveling DEMA demonstration tank.
The Austrian free-diver held his breath for over 7 minutes to a small crowd of divers and Diver Magazine’s cameras. Lesson learned? Holding your breath for more than 40-seconds hurts. Taking pictures of breath holders isn’t tough … even when you are using a Tough.


Cutlines: Top: fund raising licence plate seen in a Key Largo dive shop parking lot. Top right: Dive shop dog loves to breath in compressed air. Waits in this Pompano Beach dive shop for the owner to crack a tank. Top Middle: Key West Harbour - stock picture supplied by tourist board. Two Middle: Underwater near Key Largo testing Olympus cameras. Above: Key Largo ray. Left: Martin Stepanek holds his breath of 8-minutes in a demonstration at Key Largo's Oceanfest beach food and diving expo.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

West Coast totem pole stands tall In Ontario gallery - Don Yeomans delivers his commissioned art

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Photo provided to Toronto Weekly Newspaper
First West Coast totem pole raised at an Ontario public institution in decades


Haida artist and carver Don Yeomans came to Toronto yesterday (September 1, 2009) to oversee the installation of a totem pole he carved for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The 1,000 lb red cedar carving was trucked to the public gallery in Kleinburg and installed in the building's lobby.
Don Yeomans is one of the most highly respected artists on the Northwest Coast of British Columbia. The gallery, with funding provided by the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation, commissioned the full-scale totem pole by this artist to create a new, unique piece for the Collection that will remain on permanent view in the gallery’s Grand Hall.
On the totem pole, Yeomans uses traditional iconography and totemic animals as a point of departure to comment on today’s different modes of technological communication. With this imagery, which includes an eagle holding a cell phone and a frog with a laptop computer, the artist challenges the tradition of representing the theme of totems as emblems of interpersonal and spiritual communications.


Photo By Stephen Weir

West Coast Totem Raised At The McMichael Canadian Art Collection




Photos provided to Toronto Daily Newspaper
First West Coast Totem Pole Raised At An Ontario Public Institution in Decades


Haida artist and carver Don Yeomans stands beside his totem pole outside the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The 1,000 lb red cedar carving was delivered today to the public gallery in Kleinburg and installed in the building's lobby.
Don Yeomans is one of the most highly respected artists on the Northwest Coast of British Columbia.
Also pictured above is the20ft totem being raised inside the gallery. A gantry lifts Don Yeomans totem pole upright inside the McMichael Canadian Art Collection lobby in Kleinburg, Ontario. The west coast artist and carver oversaw the installation.
The gallery, with funding provided by the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation, commissioned the full-scale totem pole by this artist to create a new, unique piece for the Collection that will remain on permanent view in the gallery’s Grand Hall.
On the totem pole, Yeomans uses traditional iconography and totemic animals as a point of departure to comment on today’s different modes of technological communication. With this imagery, which includes an eagle holding a cell phone and a frog with a laptop computer, the artist challenges the tradition of representing the theme of totems as emblems of interpersonal and spiritual communications.
Photos By Stephen Weir, George Socka and Linda Morita