The Box Visits America Series Box Set © The Don Peterson Trust

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Today, I had the pleasure of speaking with an old friend. Calling to say "Hello!", pick up where we left off, and spark the mythical iridescence of our great-lost compatriot, Donald Budd Peterson/American photographer. What is the shelf life of a memory? Some embers burning white hot seem to outlast the ash. Like the light that continues to travel across the universe trumpeting a star that burnt out light years before. Phosphorescent apparitions that remain a beacon in death as surely as they had been an inspiration in life.

In my lifetime I have met all types, from jazz icons to salt of the earth prawns, mega success stories and homeless shadows in between. Artists for real and artists in name only. Artists who truly embodied our zeitgeist could be counted on the fingers of one hand, and still leave some digits free to manipulate a bottle opener. Don was such a soul. Dead now for a quarter of a century, he is still a force of nature. You can feel it in the devoted reference of those who knew him. We were all young once upon a time. Full of spit and determined to leave a mark. Such is the illusion of impetuous youth. You can call it idealism if you like. If you dare. But then there is the elevated level of consciousness worked by exceptionally gifted cats. The "True Artists", as one curator called them, inhabit their facility so casually that they can devote their energies to the grander questions of expression, perception, and magic, and still be on time for dinner.

Every tree in the forest is equal, it's just that the redwood stands apart, taller; that's not elitism, that's proper respect. Art schools teach the craft to all comers willing to invest the price and the time to learn what they can't impart is the genetic twinkle that attracts the muse. The Pretenders sought him out hoping to discover his secret, hoping that some of the magic might just rub off on them. While other creative travelers seek the comfort of the quixotic tendencies, the visionary carves a new path for those who dare to follow. As a friend, Don was no less magnificent. For he was in truth a big man with a big heart, able and willing to embrace his big appetites. Peterson was blessed with the gift!

Martin Gunsaullus 2005

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