Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Murray Unruh is an Artist and My Brother

Murray is one of my two younger brothers. Murray was born in St. Catharines in 1947 five years my junior and when we were young I was the one who expressed himself artistically. He was almost an adolescent before he received corrective lenses to improve his sight. He considers that to be his emergence into a new appreciation of a world of light, colour and definition. He began to pay attention to the beauty around him. I could not have imagined that in Murray’s adult years not only would he develop an interest in painting but he would become a fine and versatile artist with a keen appreciation for what makes a good picture. He lives in a beautiful agricultural area, the fruit and wine country of the Niagara district of Ontario. He has watched this growing vineyard industry and recorded with his brushes and paint. He has practiced his craft like many of us as a hobbyist for twenty five years. Scenery, still life and now lately, a venture into some abstract expressionism of spiritual themes. On his website he mentions a current series entitled “Metaphors for Life” which he envisions as seven distinct pieces and as they are being developed he will describe the process and themes.

He is a man of faith, Christian faith. Like me he too was a pastor for many years. Recently he has identified with a group of people seeking to launch an attractive Christian witness in downtown St. Catharines. It will be an open community with some appeal to friends in the art community. He is a facilitator now rather than a primary leader and he has been asked to establish an art gallery as an essential aspect of this gathering place. That interests me. I will look forward to hearing how the arts and Christian ministry cooperate.

During this new season of artistic ambition he is making his art available to others for viewing and purchase. I am proud of my brother. He is a friend to many people and a helper. In the last image that I display for you today Murray has recorded our father and Murray’s two sons when they were boys and the three of them visited the roaring water of the Niagara Gorge. Dad is gone now so this an evocative memory for our family.

His VINTAGE IMPRESSIONS Art by Murray Unruh website can show you his other work.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cari (Unruh) Locken – Scrapbooking Artist

It’s not every artistic father who has the privilege of writing about his daughter, an artist in her own medium and a good one. It’s not every day that a dad gets to brag a little about his adult daughter. Cari is a married woman with three children, ages 9, 7 and almost 5. She is an accomplished pianist, having graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music with her ARCT in piano and from the University of Western Washington with a Master’s in Piano Performance. For some years she taught private lessons and has played worship music in her church. Presently her musical skills are for her own enjoyment only as she excels at preserving memories with the highly popular art form called Scrapbooking.

It’s an art form requiring proficiency with colours and textures and materials and design. Cari is recognized among the tens of thousands of scrapbookers in North America for her inventive, inspiring and attractive layouts and is frequently featured in Canadian magazines. As important as the design is the choice of words that often accompany the layout. One has to be a lyricist.

She began the creative outlet of scrapbooking in 1997 because it permitted her to tell the stories of her life and family using amazing visuals, textural products and extraordinary colors while also encouraging her photography skills. She has been widely published in BH&G (Scrapbooks etc.), Memory Makers, Creating Keepsakes, CARDS, Paper Crafts, Simple Scrapbooks, and Scrapbook Trends.

She is a member of the design team for several magazines including Canadian Scrapbooker Magazine, Scrapshotz, Black River Designs, The Inspired Scrapper and Cor'dinations ColorCore Cardstock. You can find her work in all these mags and usually with descriptions of the materials used and the application process. She is an instructor for assorted classes at her local scrapbook store and at various retreats and conventions.

In the Inspired Scrapper the June 12,2009 issue you will find June 12 2009 Challenge #24 - Teacher's Gift Card set by Cari Locken, a sample of her work for others to try. Here is a a gallery of some of her work for Cor'dinations ColorCore.

She has a personal blog called ‘Me and My Thoughts’ in which she displays and comments on her scrapbooking.

In the layout with Jayden, his daddy Tim and me, Cari has written, "While we were walking around the Blueberry Festival in downtown Cloverdale, Jayden asked me if I would take a picture of him with Daddy and Grandpa. I was thrilled to do that and excited with how the shot turned out. Love your smiles boys!”

In the last layout, Cari has written 10 Things she and Tim love about Ryan, her 7 year old son, the middle child. On can only hope these children will have opportunity later to reflect upon these memories and to know how well they have been understood and cared for.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I know the world is changing and will change more quickly than I know. My grandchildren at 2, 3, and 4 years of age open the laptop and go online to network games, mouse around and use the keyboard. In time they will be youth and teens. Holy Smoke, then what! Look at the teens now.

They are instant messaging each other when they wake, walk, eat and drive, yikes! A major shift is occurring along demographic fault lines in the use of technology. It is a shift in how younger people are interacting with one another. Of course those who are thirty years and older are using IM and Facebook and other networking venues to stay connected with colleagues and friends and their own children. However, teens and twenties today are using technology as no other generation before them has done and for that reason they will change the way work is done. They process tasks at incredible speeds. They write essays while tweeting. They hang out at MySpace not Starbucks. Their use of digital technology is changing society, organizations and the way business is done. It cannot be held back. And this young generation is entering the workforce.

Richard Leyland of Unwired in an article entitled, "Prepare for the Next Generation – Today’s Teens will Change the Way We Work," asks four questions in order to describe what we can expect from the IM Generation.
1. How do they use technology? IM is foundational to their lives communications rather than additional as with older generations. They have developed the skill of absorbing relevant snippets while surfing connections.
2. What skills will they bring? They will multitask, make complex immediate connections, quickly create, access and swap information and collaborate with one or many people.
3. What won’t work? Traditional authority structures, formal communication style, daily office presence and reporting, dull and repetitive jobs will not work. The IM generation wants to contribute and influence outcomes, operating informally and immediately, work nomadically from home, café or beach being utterly dependent on technology and information accessibility.
4. Should this worry us? Yes and No. Yes, because it requires every organization to adjust to these realities and take advantage of them. No, because their skills are suited to this emerging knowledge economy.

GPS Application:
Can the church close the gap between its Message and the IM generation?
If the bottom line is that the Church must embrace new technologies, then what kind of personnel will the church need to employ?
In the ever-changing technology landscape, churches wanting to maintain their relevance, have to consider new options to be the connected family of God.

Friday, September 25, 2009


You will need to refer to the previous post to understand the setting for this one.

When Pat is not working he occasionally pops into the Benefit Shop to look around. During one visit he noticed the manager preparing this painting for an auction. Given permission to look more closely at the canvas Pat found that the eyes and the smile of the Russian Woman reminded him of his own grandmother. Upon reading the tale on the back of the painting about the trade for a VW plus $1.00 and that the painting was to be left to my eldest child, he considered asking the local St. Catharines Standard newspaper to publish a feature story. He wanted to send me a diecast Volkswagon with one dollar and his contact information but could not locate the diecast VW. Time passed and at last he chose to contact me by email.

Pat's grandparents farmed in Thorold and owned Properties around the Niagara Region. His grandmother prepared daily family meals, managed 200 head of beef cattle and still found time at day's end for a cup of tea and a relaxing TV show, only to wake up in the morning to do it all over again. Pat greatly respected his grandmother and the painting reminds him of her.

Pat told me that he too would write on the back of my painting explaining where he had purchased it, would attach the receipt and for the time being the Old Russian Woman will rest, and perhaps one day travel again. He gave me permission to use his real name. And he asked me to enjoy my day. I am.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

She Lives On - The Old Russian Woman

I have written about her before. This is the rest of the story. I left her behind. I couldn't take care of her. I didn't have room for her in my life. I hoped that someone else might take an interest in her and give her a home. But it was a faint hope, and frankly apart from looking at her picture in my computer files occasionally, I had forgotten her. I concluded that she was gone.

Before you castigate me for unfeeling cruelty to humanity and this woman in particular, permit me to hastily tell you that I am speaking about a 20X24 inch painting of an old Russian woman - a painting I painted forty years ago. I was twenty-two years of age and I needed a ride - wheels - transportation. My Uncle Les graciously swapped a 57 VW Beetle for this painting. The car took me to college, carried my new girlfriend on dates, and trips to my family to show her off - the girlfriend that is. Eventually I sold the car for $150 and accepted that both the car and the painting were history.

I graduated and began a career as a clergyman, pastoring four churches and CEO-ing one church denomination. Twenty years ago Christine and I made the move to British Columbia, leaving our extended families in Ontario and Quebec. In 1996 during one of my routine trips east, Uncle Les returned the painting to me, inscribing on its back that it should be passed on to my eldest son. Since I have only one son, Jeff was going to be the recipient. Considering that I had to fly back home and assuming that my son would have little interest in this large art piece, I left it with another Ontario family member who desired something that I had painted.

In 2007 the painting came into my hands once again, showing its age and some soiling. I didn't want to take her on my flight west and I was too nostalgic to give her up entirely so I tucked the painting behind my father's couch in his apartment - with his permission of course. When Dad died in May 2008 my brothers Murray and Neale, and I cleaned out the apartment. There was the Old Russian Woman. I made the difficult decision that I didn't want her. You might say I put her down - that is, I took her to the downstairs refuse room, propped her on the top of a garbage can and invited anyone who wanted her, to take her. If someone did, I hoped to receive a note letting me know, so I left my name, address, email, website and phone number. I heard nothing. She was gone.

Then this week, seventeen months after I turned the lights out behind me in the refuse room, I received an e-message from someone named Patrick in St. Catharines saying, "Hello, Mr. Unruh, Just wanted to let you know your painting, which you traded for a V.W. Beetle is at my home, won at the Christian Benefit Shop here in St. Catharines. Any possibility you may write some history regarding your painting for me? Have a Great Day, Pat."

So, someone saw her. Perhaps her happy, dancing eyes captured attention. Someone took her to a shop where she found a new caregiver. Imagine! I love this serendipity. It's the rest of the story. The Old Russian Woman lives on.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


When I first saw his work, what impressed me was his understanding of light on any subject and his ability to express it on canvas and paper. I enjoyed his art so a few years ago I took a weekend workshop with him. Alan Wylie lives nearby in the quaint village of Fort Langley. Alan is an honoured artist, a graduate from the Glasgow School of Art in 1960 and beneficiary of a fine tradition of Scottish Realism. He immigrated to Canada in 1967, settling first in Nova Scotia and in 1973 moving to British Columbia. He is married to another renowned Canadian artist, Janice Robertson.

He is a remarkably versatile artist using various mediums and painting varied subjects, landscapes, figures, still life. If you watch his minute strokes on an 8X10 inch canvas you might not imagine his capacity for murals that measure 100 feet by 20 feet. Yet he is celebrated for his grand murals in public and private institutions around North America and Europe. A link on his website recites some of the many murals he has painted through his career. He has exhibited across Canada and the United States and he is represented in the collections of the Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Arts, the Lt. Governor of Nova Scotia, Prudential Assurance Company, Hiram Walker & Sons, Shell Oil Resources, the Lt. Governor of British Columbia and many other collections.

He is a Senior Signature Member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, the Canadian Institute of Portrait Artists, the Northwest Watercolor Society, the California Watercolor Association, the Louisiana Watercolor Society, and the first Canadian to be awarded the distinction of being a Dolphin Fellow of the American Watercolor Society.

Like her husband, Janice Robertson works in watercolor, acrylics and oil. Janice was born on Vancouver Island, into a family with a long history of female artists. Her professional artistic career has flourished rapidly since it began in 1989. She became a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists in 1987 and in 1993 she was awarded the FCA’s highest status- Senior Signature member [SFCA]. In 1999 she was elected as President of the Federation. In 1999, she was awarded signature status in the Northwest Watercolor Society. She has acquired many awards among which is the Bronze Medal in the Federation of Canadian Artists 2000 Signature Members show, the Margaret and William Foley Award at the 2001 Adirondacks National Exhibition of Watercolors in New York and the Foreign Award at the Houston Watercolor Society's exhibition in Texas in 2004.

Janice too cherishes the importance of light and is quoted here. "Quality of light is important to me", says Janice. "It gives me energy and inspiration and I hope something of that quality is what I give to people in my paintings."

Alan Wylie Personal website
*Birthplace of BC Gallery, Wylie Page
Janice Robertson Personal website
*Birthplace of BC Gallery, Robertson Page

Wylie Mural above "World in Motion" located in Chemainus on Vancouver Island.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Growing Older, Remembering More Keenly, Waiting for Eternity.

One week ago I injured myself and I am recovering with my leg up. Immobility makes me vulnerable to reflection. Then last night in the company of friends we discussed someone who was eighty years old. Christine unapologetically reminded me that in 13 years I would also be 80. Sweet! Furthermore some close friends have lost loved ones recently and the frivolous nature of so much of life becomes pale. Mortality dominates.

Among my considerations during this reflective disposition are the remembered joys of my boyhood days sixty years ago. It’s a long way back in time now that I am 67 years old. I am an old guy yet my spirit still owns some youthful ambitions among which is my art. Great art speaks to some superior life lessons.

Winslow Homer is a celebrated American painter and was a glorious watercolourist and master of oils who himself captured for us winsome moments in life, sometimes of childhood. In his ‘Boys in a Pasture’ painted when he was an older man, the artist nostalgically records an innocence of youth, a tranquility and pleasure of a time when a child’s day without farm duties could stretch to the horizon beyond the picture’s frame. From our viewpoint close to the ground we study with interest the gaze of the boys into the limitless distance. My boyhood enjoyed such buoyancy.

Rembrandt painted many self portraits over his lifetime and this featured portrait which I saw in the Musee Louvre this year depicts his frailty when as art historian Jeff Dugan informs me, Rembrandt had “suffered the loss of his fortune, his reputation, his family and his health. It is remarkable that Rembrandt had the psychological strength to create such a brutally and uncomplimentary self-portrait.” Dugan continues, “But in this portrait, there’s a hint of something that I think can be seen in most old men and women. In the eyes of this old man burns the same flame of genius, of optimism, and of freedom that we see in his self portraits as a young man. Inside the frail shell is a soul that in many respects is still as young and alive and energetic as it has ever been. Time has imprisoned this soul in responsibilities and infirmities, and Rembrandt has the courage to show us this without flinching. But if we look into his eyes, we can also see the man that he feels himself to be, despite all the external decay.”

GPS Application:
Rather than terminating, life is a continuum. Just as you might disagree with Dugan’s interpretation of Rembrandt’s self portrait you may dispute my opinion that God acquits us by virtue of our faith in Jesus Christ and that he has prepared a life and home for us beyond the death of these bodies. I find irresistible the enduring promise from Revelation …”and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)

Jeff Dugan's website is titled Art to Heart

Homer's painting 'Boys in a Pasture" is housed at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Rembrandt's 'Portrait of the Artist at the Easel' is displayed at the Louvre.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Distant Greeting from a Former Resident

(I have sent the following letter to the local Record News newspaper in Smiths Falls Ontario, the first town in which I pastored)

"Forty years ago in the month of September I came to Smiths Falls to pastor Calvary Bible Church on Beech Street. Christine and I lived happily in town during a five year span from 1969-1974. Coming to town fresh from my pastoral training, I was certain about most theological subjects and was not timid about sharing these evangelical sureties. Maturity has not diminished my confidence but has tuned my discretion factor. At the time The Record News carried a weekly religious article stating opinions with which I often took issue. Christine and I were not in town long before I walked into the office of the Record News editor and told him that the regular religion article did not reflect the mind of many of the newspaper’s readers. He asked what I was prepared to do about it and I offered a column called ‘To the Point.’ For five years the column enjoyed an appreciative audience as well as drawing the ire of some who disagreed with me.

One of my memory highlights was organizing eight days of nightly meetings in 1972 with a young evangelist named Ravi Zacharias, who went on to become a prominent Christian apologist, spokesperson and best selling author with an international ministry. These meetings drew support from area churches and numerous local musical groups.

I myself went on to pastor three other churches in Peterborough, Toronto, and Cloverdale, B.C., where I continue to live. I concluded my career in July 2008 after serving six years as President of the denomination known as the Evangelical Free Church of Canada. Christine and I look back with fondness upon our time in Smiths Falls where our second child was born, where we made many friends and where I received my enriching ministry start. Thank you to the Record News for its early encouragement to me to write. In retirement I have picked up my palette and paint brushes and am painting pictures of God’s creation, landscapes and people."

With appreciation,
Dr. Ron Unruh

Photo credit: Smiths Falls Lock Panorama photo by: Ken Watson, 2003
See Ken's site on Digital Photos
Ravi Zacharias Video Statements on YouTube:
Why believe the Bible?
How do you know there is a God?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

These Intersex Fish Are Further Reason for All of Creation to Want Humanity to Be Redeemed

U.S. Geological Survey results of intersex fish in America were disclosed this week indicating that one out of five male black bass in American river basins have egg cells growing inside their sexual organs. It is a confirmation of widespread fish feminization that has been reported in recent years. The finding is linked to women's birth control pills and other hormone treatments that seep into rivers.

Before I offer further details I will shine an incomparable light on this news story. I need your momentary indulgence. The Bible provides the wattage with a fascinating statement.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:18-27 (New International Version)

Humanity is frequently arrogant or inconsiderate with respect to treatment of creation. The 6% of 1500 male freshwater fish that have become feminized is just the latest evidence of our carelessness in creation. Endocrine-disrupting hormones such as estrogen from medicines are he current link to intersex fish which is a general warning about what some experts see as a wider problem of endocrine disruptors in the environment.

Aboriginal spirituality often demonstrates greater reverence for what God has made than do Christian faiths. The redemption spoken of earlier assumes that character and attitudes and actions change when God recreates a person through faith. Creation is frustrated by the blunders and faults of humanity, and the greatest expectation is that this redemption will one day be completed and then creation too will be liberated.

The apostle Paul writing to the Christians in first century Rome reminded them that their lives were not all about survival here. In fact their lives were future oriented and in order to posses that prospect each of them would experience the fulfillment of the spiritual transition that had already begun inside them by their faith. The word used for this process is ‘redemption.’ This redemption upon completion will include believers’ physical bodies and that event will be an indescribable liberation. That human emancipation will affect the welfare of all creatures and toward that hope all of creation yearns.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

HST or VAT - Harmonized Sales Tax

People who hate the HST honk their car horns in Vancouver. HST requires some clarification.

The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is more commonly known globally as a “value-added tax” (VAT) and Canada is one of the last countries in the world to comprehensively adopt a VAT system.

Over 130 countries already have shifted to a VAT system including 29 of 30 OECD countries. Countries that have not embraced a VAT tax system have been shown to have higher prices (before VAT) at the domestic consumer level and higher prices at the export level. Okay, right there is where the HST must deliver for the consumer. If we have to pay it, we should see product prices drop.

The rest of this article with the exception of the GPS Application is our BC Government line. The premise is that with a value-added tax system (VAT) goods become less expensive to produce, and those savings are passed on to consumers. It appears already to have been verified by the experience of Canada’s three Atlantic Provinces which since adopting an HST, have witnessed consumer prices falling, according to a 2007 study by University of Toronto professor Michael Smart. In May the province of Ontario adopted HST and that was the necessary inducement to seriously consider this application in BC.

Economists, politicians and business people supportive of HST claim that in B.C. where the economy is driven by exports, we would create jobs and improve competitive pricing by adopting the same VAT system owned by other countries. Our government has needed to answer the question. Does British Columbia want to compete to attract investment and job-creation through lower costs and higher productivity? If YES is the response, then implementation of the HST is argued as the most direct and most effective way to do that.

That seems prudent. But I am a BC consumer and now I am a retired consumer on a fixed income and on behalf of all consumers I want to know whether I am going to carry the burden of this economy stimulus strategy. Will this initiative mean that I pay more taxes? The answer is an unequivocal YES. HST will apply to some goods and services where previously PST did not. The countering argument is that the long term benefit of lower prices will offset the tax increase. Moreover, for those working, higher wages are part of the promise outcomes. Initial thought is being given to a government approved BC HST credit of $230 to individuals with incomes up to $20,000 and to family members with incomes up to $25,000 as an offset to the impact of HST.

If true to its word, the BC Government will implement a point-of-sale rebate on numerous products including: gasoline or diesel; marine diesel or aviation fuel including biofuels; components used in a motor vehicle, boat or aircraft; books; children’s-sized clothing and footwear; children’s car seats and car booster seats; diapers and feminine hygiene products; all existing GST exemptions will continue to apply (i.e.; basic groceries). Further the promise has been made to offset the incremental cost of the HST on new homes by providing an HST rebate for new homes to a maximum rebate of $20,000. That means taxes remain essentially unchanged for new homes valued up to $400,000. HST only applies to new homes, not to previously-owned homes being re-sold.

GPS Application:
Christ’s opponents frequently sought to trap him in his words. If he would contradict the ruling Roman authority, they might condemn him. Matthew recounted how the Pharisees asked him a question about taxation. Was it right to pay taxes to Caesar was the question to which Jesus replied. Holding the Roman currency on which Caesar’s likeness was stamped and by which the tax would be paid he advised that they give to Caesar what belonged to him and give to god what belongs to him. In Matthew 22:15-22.

PS - (OECD stands for Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and is comprised of 30 countries that accept the principles of representative democracy and free-market economy. Most OECD members are high-income economies with a high HDI {Human Development Index}and are regarded as developed countries.)

Noted BC Economist, Jock Finlayson and his colleague, Ken Peacock, wrote one of the best explanations of the benefits of HST recently.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Return on Investment that is out of this world

Milowe Allen Brost, 55, of Chestermere AB has been arrested while his alleged white collar crime partner and now RCMP fugitive Gary Allen Sorenson, 66, of Calgary, is believed to be comfortably resident in Honduras which does not have an extradition treaty with Canada. In fact Merendon Mining Corporation Ltd., of which Sorenson is CEO has its headquarters in Honduras. From his company website Sorenson disclaims any connection to companies in the USA bearing the Merendon name.

Both men are charged with fraud over $5,000 (Section 380(1)(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada) and theft over $5,000 (Section 334(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada). In fact unsuspecting (gullible) investors in Canada and the USA may have been defrauded of well over one million dollars by the Ponzi scheme designed by this pair. A Ponzi scheme is an investment swindle in which high profits are promised & early investors are paid off from funds raised from later ones. It was named after Italian speculator Charles Ponzi, who organized such a scheme in 1919-1920.

You can read more about this investigation at CBC news.
Return on investment is something we seldom consider outside the monetary arena yet it is relevant. My parents worked at common laborious vocations in order to provide for their family of three sons. Each of us sons received post high school education, and since faith in God was central to our lives each of us also independent from one another chose to work in an area of Christian service. My parents never ceased to derive deep satisfaction from what they considered a priceless return on their investment.

GPS Application
When I think of the squandered years and the distress that each of these men will face in the years ahead, I conclude that their alleged investment in deceit will be valueless and destructive. Spiritual principles direct us to invest in an economy with the highest rate of return rather than running the risk of losing everything of real value. In fact we do not have the faculties now to fully appreciate what God is preparing to deliver to those of us who love him exclusively now. That’s the way I see it.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… You cannot serve both God and Money” Matthew 6:19- 21, 24
"None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:8-9
"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." Ecclesiastes 5:10

Registered Office: 35 New Road, Belize City, Belize, C.A.
Head Office: xAldea Las Casitas, Carretera al Batallon, Kilometro 9,
Tegucigalpa, Honduras, C.A. Tel: & Fax: (504)234-7055

Top Photo: Gary Sorenson
Second Photo: Charles Ponzi

Monday, September 14, 2009


I am briefly set aside. A dumb move yesterday that has resulted in a gross ankle sprain or a break - waiting to find out. And on my birthday too. I will write something intelligent soon.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Rant and Rave about Facebook

I have a beef – Grade A. Not to mention the security concerns of Facebook and occasional tech glitches and for the moment addressing merely the surface level of interaction on Facebook, I cannot believe the mundane trivialities with which subscribers assault us. And we call one another friends. After all, I go to the trouble of going online, hit the Facebook button and begin to scroll down the morning’s comments, and every day it’s the same kind of stuff – you could call it crap. (That's Mark Zuckerman, creator of Facebook --->)

It is this type of “friends” information about which I am speaking:
“… Wondering when will my sore finger heal.”
“… Is back from go-carting.”
“… enjoying the day.”
“… washing the dog.”
“… Langley is pleasant today.”
“… Wish I could stop.”
“ …is going roller blading…” and a little later, “just back from roller blading.”

Come on, really? It feels like an intellectual insult. All of us subscribers do it without thinking, but at a more cerebrally reflective moment such as this present one, what is wrong with my head to be engaged in something quite as inane as this?

And then there is the avalanche of e-game results with graphics that fill the screen as each friend who plays an e-game automatically informs us of the cows he’s bought, or the foes she’s vanquished, or the goals scored. I know I can choose to hide the graphics and I do!

What I value is the networking feature that graces my daily life with contacts with ‘friends’ from the past and in different geographical locations whom I otherwise would not even think about or with whom I had lost contact. That is the chief fascination and benefit. And perhaps that is what this is all about. It's like being neighbours and talking over the fence or out on the street about nothing much - just life. I know that Facebook can have large business and marketing value as well. Photo and event sharing is a great feature. Facebook Developer Platform provides for an infinite number of marketing and data collection possibilities. With the new Facebook Ads platform, you can reach a niche audience with relevant and highly-targeted ads and optimize your site with onsite analytics. The fastest growing demographic for users is those 25 years old and older.

From a technical standpoint, the technologies, networking tools, and web applications built into it are incredibly intuitive and advanced. Facebook’s photo sharing application is the most widely used one on the Web. Probably the coolest thing about Facebook is that it is a platform on which others can build applications.

So the social networking ingredient that underlies this communication venue I appreciate and thus endeth my rant and rave for today.

You can see Zuckerman talk about this at a developers conference. But it's dated, it speak about 24 million users when today it's 57 million. 10% of Canada's population is signed up.

Oh yes, “Ron Unruh is still sitting in my short PJs”.
Later - "Ron Unruh is going to take a shower."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

MICHEL SEMENTZEFF, an extraordinary painter

I have to admit my pleasure in knowing that my simple blog acquires enough hits that are steered to appropriate websites that in some cases it produces some beneficial outcomes. In this case, the noted artist Michel Sementzeff contacted me with appreciation. I am deeply grateful. I repeat this post because it has been a sought after sight and it steers the reader to Michel's website.

Michel Sementzeff is considered one of the greatest contemporary figurative artists. I could not believe my good fortune when I stayed in his son Didier’s guest home. Throughout the home were these exquisitely executed paintings. He paints landscapes and portraits that are colourful, playful, dreamlike, romantic and he does it using a knife to paint heavy oil passages that accent the creativity of his themes and style. While this genre is not my customary choice I couldn’t resist appreciating this good, good art. Didier presented me with a book of his father’s paintings which I realize is an advertising piece but I treasure it. That’s as close as I will get to owning one of Sementzeff’s expensive originals.

Of Russian origin, Michel Sementzeff was born in Boulogne-sur-Seine. He entered the École Supérieure des Arts Modernes at the age of 15, and has subsequently forged a highly successful career as an artist, exhibiting in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, United States and Canada. With his well chosen palette of colours, his light strokes as well as his heavy impasto touches he emits light and happiness and nostalgia. He has chosen to paint faces that always reflect a childish innocence and surprise and anticipation.

His son Didier, the retired professional photographer that I mentioned yesterday, captures his father’s images so clearly to make every book of art a masterpiece collector’s cache.
I am enamoured by Michel's success and jealous of his signature. Michel's work makes the viewer happy.

here is Michel's website. The best site for viewing the quality and luminosity and brush strokes is Galerie Internationale

Friday, September 11, 2009


Stephanie Cadieux was elected to the BC Legislature to represent the people of Surrey-Panorama on May 12, 2009.

Ms. Cadieux was voted one of Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 under 40, in 2007. Prior to her election as a Liberal MLA Stephanie worked as director of marketing and development of BC Paraplegic Association. She is an active community volunteer having served as president of Realwheels Society, Ambassador for the Rick Hansen Man in Motion Foundation as well as a member of the advisory panel and as a researcher with International Collaboration On Repair Discoveries (ICORD). This is a focused dedication because she has herself lived with a spinal injury since the age of 18. She and her husband have resided in Surrey for seven years and when not working she enjoys travel, art and sailing. She has traveled extensively in Europe, Central America, Africa and North America, often as a delegate for International Development work with people with disabilities. I wish her every success as she seeks to represent her constituency effectively.

The Surrey Arts Council contacted me last week with a request from Ms. Cadieux for me to hang a couple of my paintings in her constituency office. I installed four paintings reflective of the agricultural setting of south Surrey. I met Stephanie and enjoyed brief conversation with her before her busy afternoon of receiving guests began. Yesterday, September 10th was the grand opening of her new constituency office.

My paintings will hang in this office for three months. My art has also been on display in the Surrey office of MP Sukh Dahliwal. I am involved as one of many artists in the Community Art Displays whereby we exhibit our work in the offices of Surrey MLAs and MPs, the Surrey Board of Trade, Surrey Tourism Association, the Arts Council of Surrey Office and other Surrey businesses.

Photo credit: Ron Kubara for Stephanie Cadieux portrait and photo with Mr. Campbell
Other photos: Ron Unruh

Surrey Arts Centre, 13750-88 Ave., Surrey; 604-501-5566;

Stephanie Cadieux's Constituency Office:
120 – 5455 152nd Street
Surrey, BC
V3S 5A5

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Artists Anne-Marie Ruggeri and Philippe Janin

People from around the world have touched down on this June 2009 posting. I am repeating it because of its popularity and the recognition that these two wonderful artists have garnered. Christine and I enjoyed meeting them while we were in France this year.

Anne-Marie Ruggeri and Philippe Janin are a gifted and accomplished artistic husband and wife who own a studio/gallery in the town of Bonnieux in the foothills of Mount Luberon in Provence. During a day trip Christine and I spotted the gallery and stopped in Bonnieux. I was very impressed by the oils that Philippe paints and the pastels by Anne-Marie. Extraordinary work and priced to reflect their success. Pastel is a medium I simply cannot understand. Never tried it and am amazed at its beauty. We purchased some gorgeous cards as mementos. The first picture is by Philippe and shows Bonnieux with its church prominently in the picture. These communities always had a church central to its community and life. How things change. While the buildings remain physically central, they are tourist stops and sparsely attended by the locals. Only occasionally did we see a church alive with activity and people enthusiastic about their faiths.

You see some of the Ruggeri and Janin work by going to this linked website but I believe this is an old site. There are more of Janin’s recent works here at this other link.

I noticed that so many French artists produce postcards and posters and prints and many of them also have printed books of their art. It is clever marketing as it provides pieces at prices suitable to a range of buyers. This pair has several books.

Ruggeri has even had some of her art incorporated into fashion, and this site shows a scarf imprinted with her work. Tap the photo to enlarge it for a better view.

It was inspiring to look at their work but also to process what is required by marketing to become an established artist.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Roger Federer - Is it Important to be Better Than Anyone Else?

Is it Important to be Better Than Anyone Else?

Because of what is transpiring at the US Open Tennis Championships this week and because this July 6 blog entry (written following his Wimbledon success), has been one of my most popular posts, I am repeating it here.

The July 6 Posting:
In reflecting on Roger Federer’s monumental achievement on Sunday, I asked myself, “What must it be like to be better at something than everyone else in the world?” Accompanying questions might be, “Is it important to be better than everyone else?” or perhaps, “Am I better at something than everyone else in the world?”

I came to some conclusions. It’s more important to some people than others to be better at something than anyone else. It becomes the dominant motivator of competitive people regardless of the contest. It is enormously beneficial to careers and advancing oneself in the world.

Roger Federer was better this year at Wimbledon than all other male tennis players. Federer won the Men’s Single Trophy for the sixth time, and in the process won his fifteenth grand slam title, one more than Pete Sampras who retired in 2002. He did it by beating Andy Roddick in the thirtieth game of the fifth set, the longest title match in history. He made history at many levels. All of this success has branded Federer, which is a good thing monetarily. His father wore a ball cap with a classy signature RF logo that now extols Roger’s celebrity. He and Nike have partnered to produce a catwalk style of apparel for the man – what a racket! His monogrammed shoes are sold at the Bay.

Rafael Nadal is back after a two month injury recuperation but I think he is no match for Federer this year, and Federer will will win the US Open for a record sixth time in the open era, and his are successive years. Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras have each one five.

Some further conclusions. It is never too late to try to find that something in which you are better than anyone.

For instance, Mike Flynt is the best sixty year old college football player ever. Well he is the only grandfather to ever play college ball. He missed his fourth year of eligibility thirty-seven years ago, and at age 59 asked for a chance to make the team again. He made it in 2007 with Sul Ross State University in Texas. Flynt has given new meaning to being a college senior. Flynt is a strength coach by trade and was a conditioning coach at Nebraska, Oregon and Texas A&M. He is the inventor of the Powerbase Fitness exercise equipment. He is a grandfather and is retired. He has written a book called ‘SENIOR.’ Here is his personal and fitness website.

Ron's Opinion: I am not better at anything than everyone else, and it is no longer important for me to be better than anyone else but I will strive to do what only I can do and to do it so well that it makes a positive impression or contribution within my influence circle.