Robert L. Peters

26 January 2009

Gung Hei Fat Choy! Sun Leen Fai Lok!

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Best wishes to all on this Chinese New Year’s Day—the Year of the Ox.


Stories in clay,

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Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba

Evelin Richter (a talented ceramist and my girlfriend) has been doing some interesting sculptural work of late—this is a recent piece of hers that seems particularly relevant to the stressful economic times being experienced around the globe. Warns Ev: “Be careful what you fill your head with… a fixation on numbers could crack a person up.”

Images: Prime Candidate; a figurative slab-built piece in stoneware, finished with various stains and low-fire glazes, assemblage with wire-rim glasses; 380mm x 320mm x 200mm.


25 January 2009

Robbie Burns at 250,

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Scotland and beyond…

Today is Robbie Burns day, as well as the famous Scottish bard’s 250th birthday—around the world, Scots, honorary Scots, Scots-by-marriage and wannabe Scots are celebrating with banquets and toasting with single malts in honour of Scotland’s 18th-century versifier, a poet “who has mysteriously acquired a celebrity in death that vastly outshines the public reputations of other great poets.” Burns’ lyrical voice rings true across the centuries, and he has been lauded as the “authentic representation of the romantic spirit of the common man.”

Here’s one of my favorites of Robbie’s poems, a piece penned in 1785 (with a glossary to help decipher archaic terms in the poem here—just click on the underlined words):

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To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough

Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,

O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!

Thou need na start awa sae hasty,

Wi’ bickering brattle!

I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,

Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,

Has broken nature’s social union,

An’ justifies that ill opinion,

Which makes thee startle

At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,

An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;

What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!

A daimen icker in a thrave

‘S a sma’ request;

I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,

An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!

It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!

An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,

O’ foggage green!

An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,

Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,

An’ weary winter comin fast,

An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,

Thou thought to dwell-

Till crash! the cruel coulter past

Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,

Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!

Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,

But house or hald,

To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,

An’ cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,

In proving foresight may be vain;

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men

Gang aft agley,

An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,

For promis’d joy!

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me

The present only toucheth thee:

But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.

On prospects drear!

An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,

I guess an’ fear!


Netdiver,

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Montreal, Québec

Netdiver has just released their 7th edition of Netdiver Best of the Year—“projects and individuals whose talents have made a strong and lasting impression in 2008… new sources of design inspiration.” The Hillman Curtis video clip of Milton Glaser alone is worth the visit…


24 January 2009

A sleuth of bears…..

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New Hampshire, USA

I love bears, and living in the woods on the edge of the Boreal Forest, I feel privileged to have fairly frequent encounters with them at my place and at the nearby crags where I climb (I’m talking about black bears here [Ursus americanus]). So when my girlfriend forwarded the following story to me today (which she received from her fabric-artist friend Betty Jackson in Dunnottar) I couldn’t resist passing it on. I have encountered mama bears with as many as three cubs… but never five! (This somehow also reminded me of the five baby raccoons I had the privilege of “raising” a few years back).

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Black bears typically have two cubs; rarely, one or three.

In 2007, in northern New Hampshire, a black bear sow gave birth to five healthy young. There were two or three reports of sows with as many as four cubs, but five was, and is, extraordinary. I learned of them shortly after they emerged from their den and set myself a goal of photographing all five cubs with their mom – no matter how much time and effort was involved.

I knew the trail they followed on a fairly regular basis, usually shortly before dark. After spending nearly four hours a day, seven days a week, for six weeks, I had that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and photographed them in the shadows and dull lighting of the evening. I used the equivalent of a very fast film speed on my digital camera. The print is properly focused and well exposed, with all six bears posing as if they were in a studio for a family portrait.

I stayed in touch with other people who saw the bears during the summer and into the fall hunting season. All six bears continued to thrive. As time for hibernation approached, I found still more folks who had seen them, and everything remained OK. I stayed away from the bears as I was concerned that they might become habituated to me, or to people in general, as approachable friends. This could be dangerous for both man and animal.

After Halloween I received no further reports and could only hope the bears survived until they hibernated. This spring, before the snow disappeared, all six bears came out of their den and wandered the same familiar territory they trekked in the spring of 2007.

I saw them before mid-April and dreamed nightly of taking another family portrait, an improbable second once-in-a-lifetime photograph… On April 25, 2008 I achieved my dream.

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When something as magical as this happens between man and animal, Native Americans say, “We have walked together in the shadow of a rainbow.” And so it is with humility and great pleasure that I share these photos with you…

Sincerely, Tom Sears   (photos ©2008, Tom Sears)


23 January 2009

Dada da-day,

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Yes, it’s been a Dada kind of da-day…

Images above: Typical Vertical Mess as Depiction of the Dada Baargeld, 1920, by Johannes Theodor Baargeld (Alfred Emanuel Ferdinand Greunwald), German, 1892-1927; Kleine Dada soirée Haagsche K.K. [lithographic proof], January 1923(?), by Theo van Doesburg (Christian Emil Marie Küpper), Dutch, 1883-1931; ABCD (self-portrait, photomontage from 1923-24), Raoul Hausmann, Austrian, 1886-1971.


22 January 2009

National Film Board films,

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Ottawa, Canada

The National Film Board (NFB) of Canada has launched a new project to allow Canadians (and others) to see its films through online streaming, at NFB.ca. Part of a $1.3-million project to digitize the NFB’s collection of historic films, the site starts with 700 classics and with plans to add 10 new films a month online (from the archived collection of 15,000+ NFB productions). A great use of our public funds, in my opinion—visit the site here… and enjoy!


21 January 2009

There,

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Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba

Well, I’m finally painting again. This is a quick study I did last night (acrylics on stretched canvas, 25cm x 20cm). More to come in the days and weeks ahead, hopefully…


Please say it isn,

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Winnipeg, Canada

As if the black ice and freezing fog en route to the office this morning were not disconcerting enough… it also seems I’ve been commuting with Der Führer! Anybody else need a ride (besides Adolf)?

Poster by Weimer Pursell, 1943 [Printed by the Government Printing Office for the Office of Price Administration, NARA Still Picture Branch (NWDNS-188-PP-42]. Find more World War ll propaganda posters here.


20 January 2009

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