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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Weekly Post, Welcome to SUZHOU, 1985 - to the present by Robert Glenn Ketchum

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present by Robert Glenn Ketchum

During the reign of Mao (1949-1976), China was a closed country. China in the 1980’s was 80% rural, with no outside visitors, particularly from the West. When China opened to travelers, the Chinese government placed severe limitations on who was allowed to enter the country. These photographs are a continuation of other ongoing blog threads of the first glimpses into China in the mid-1980’s by world-renowned Conservation Photographer 
Robert Glenn Ketchum.



Thursday, January 5, 2017

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #151
Suzhou #151:  As this image ends this blog, I post it because I have photographed and written about a 35-year period of extraordinary change in Suzhou of which I have been lucky enough to witness. Yet, for all the changes, as I have tried to humorously point out, many things remain the same, or at least similar. When I look out across the city from my hotel room , I see that it IS very different, but there is also NO DOUBT that it is very Chinese. This nation did not have international style imposed upon it, but rather it took international style and reconfigured it in a Chinese way. Watching this transpire, and growing to understand it was a great gift to me as a person and an artist. The exchange with an embroidery guild that brought me to Suzhou not only created an unusual Chinese-American collaboration that redefined Suzhou-style embroidery, but it enriched my life in ways I never anticipated. For me, this exchange transcended the art we created and reformed the life I was creating and my view of the world. I hope my Chinese colleagues feel the same after putting up with me for all this time. I would also like to thank the city and citizens of Suzhou for making me feel welcome and comfortable, even though I clearly looked strange to them, AND I stuck my camera in their face. I will miss these travels. I am SO grateful to have done them. I will now sign off from this blog with another billboard quotation:  “Joyance Prevails, Dreams Are Approaching."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #150
Suzhou #150:  Another aspect of life in the New Suzhou that has NOT changed, is the fact that everything is always changing. China has NO fear about building something on a large scale, and then a short time later, arriving at a better design or idea and tearing it all down to start again. In Suzhou, not only did I see old historic neighborhoods disappear in the time between 1985 and 2000, but then after 2000 I began to see some of the newly “remodeled” neighborhoods that replaced the historic ones being torn down and reconstructed again. (There is an analogy here between living in this way as the Chinese do, and what we all put up with when we update software - there is always a new upgrade coming, so deal with it.) For all the chaos this may create, it does mean living conditions have gotten better and it is hard for me to believe when I look at what surrounds me now, that I made those pictures in the late 80’s in exactly the same city. A few hundred feet past the construction, however, I encountered an English sign in a window that was definitely part of the NEW China: “Office Only Please Not Coming."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #149
Suzhou #149:  If you have a lot of bicycles, you need a lot of repairmen to provide service. So, another of those “things” that may have changed a bit but certainly did not go away is the ubiquitous neighborhood bike repair “shop.” As you will note in these two images, a bike repair shop is more than just bike repair. They usually have many chairs, and almost always have visitors seated around talking when NO bikes are even in the shop. In a kind of traditional Chinese way, these repairmen and their sidewalk shops are a bot like a Starbucks in the US. It is a place to meet people or friends and have a conversation. These repair “families” were consistently the most engaging of all the people on the street that I photographed. Many spoke a little English so they always asked what I was doing and where I was from, but even those that only spoke Chinese would engage me and want to know about the pictures I was making. Most were surprisingly friendly, and some even offered me a seat and some tea.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #148
Suzhou #148:  While there is no doubt there are more cars and traffic in the “New” Suzhou, one of the other items that did NOT go away is the bicycle. In the first years of growth as cars began to appear on the streets and eventually flood in, bicycles began to disappear. Most went to scooters, both gas and all-electric, but there was a period where even those numbers lost ground against the advance of car owners. City planners, nonetheless, recognized the need for balanced use, especially as the more cars that came, the worse the traffic grew, so as the new city transit/road systems were designed, designated bike lanes were included everywhere. What then happened was traffic grew intolerable, and more people went back to bikes. Above you see some random street views today - on the left we have a parking area for workers and customers of nearby small businesses (such as: “China Typical Sewing Machine Group” and “Army Duplication Workshop” (what do they do there?) - these are actual signs written in English!). On the right is parking for a middle school whose children are about to be released. Note that to the right of the parking there is a line of bicyclists ON their bikes, and all facing the camera. This is a jam-packed bike lane on a busy commercial street. When the kids get out it becomes bedlam! A ”favorite” moment from having spent a good bit of time watching scenes like this was when a VERY stylish mom arrived on her electric scooter, weaving through this chaos with one hand while nonchalantly talking on her cellphone with the other. Her scooter was a masterpiece of decoration and SHE was wearing white furry boots with tassels, a pink and white sort-of-furry skirt, a jacket with an embroidered animal face on the back, and a tiara that featured be-jeweled cat ears! Yes!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #147
Suzhou #147:  For all of the new improvements in the world of Suzhou, signs of the “old school” style of doing things provide a kind of visual continuity for me, having visited so often over so many years. People now have indoor plumbing allowing things like washing machines. Many also have dryers, but given any warm sunny day, pretty much everyone stills does this to “air-out” the clothing and the bedding. As this has gone on FOREVER, look back over this blog and compare clothing styles of things hanging out to dry. You will see a very clear path from design conformity to colorful diversity at the very least. Among the many style changes, one of the subtle, but notable for me, was the rise of decorated t-shirt. It was strange enough to see some Chinese 20-something wearing a Sex Pistol’s t-shirt, but that is a very recognized band. The “homemade” t-shirts that you will probably never see elsewhere were the most curious, however. Perhaps expressing her Christian values, I passed a teenager wearing a shirt that featured the bloody head of Christ crowned by thorns, underscored by the words “Real Face Value.” It is also entirely possible she had NO IDEA who the face belonged to and just thought the t-shirt looked “cool.” That spelling “thing” pops up all the time as well - a Chinese girl wearing a very “California” look, including Ugg boots, sported a t-shirt that declared her a “Sufer Girl."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #146
Suzhou #146:  If you look at the earliest pictures in this blog, you will see this one is a kind of conclusion to the arc of this story. Suzhou is place VERY different than the one to which I first came, and yet, some things remain familiar. It is clearly more vibrant - younger, flashier, more style conscious, more tech-savy, often multi-linguistic, and in many cases, VERY flippant and funny. If you look carefully you will see the product this crew is selling, but they could easily be a new group of Marvel characters. On the street, in the middle of the day, I passed an attractive 20+year old Chinese girl whose t-shirt read in English, “Shut Up And Just Do Me.” Then there was a huge billboard looming over a busy area of shops that offered no picture or color, just the black letters - www.richfinance.cx - on a white background. I think I laughed the hardest, however, watching the English news one night in my room. A VERY young, stylish Chinese female was doing stock analysis the night following the conviction of Martha Stewart in a stock trading case, and her colleague queried, “what should one do if you hold Martha Stewart stock certificates?” To which the young analyst replied, “Well, if you turn them over they make lovely place mats!"
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #145
Suzhou #145:  While many of the smaller streets sport lively markets, open air stores, and sidewalk repair shops, much like the “neighborhood” stores in old Suzhou, out on the major boulevards the New Suzhou has a very different look. I see an amusing mix of international styles, designs, and the use of words. For some reason Suzhou, in particular, saw many new small businesses open bearing American names/slogans written in English. Paul Simon is a women’s lingerie store. Then there is Old Blue Eyes Bar and Badabing’s Bar. For personal maintenance you might go to Hari Salon, the Man Health Hairdressing Club, or my favorite, Unite Hair & Make Face Beautiful Salon. Sometimes things are less clear - I have no idea what goes on in Red Ants Decoration or Bob Dog, but I DO agree with a small sign in the corner of a shop window: “No Drugs, No Nuclear Weapons Inside."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #144
Suzhou #144:  To me, one of the most notable changes on the street was the astounding changes and growth in the year-round array of food products available in the markets. In 1985, in preparation for my first visit to Suzhou, I was told the Chinese ate a vast palette of food much of which would seem exotic to me, but I should always accept their hospitality and dine. I did that, but in those days, especially winter, the menu and the markets were anything but vast and offered very limited options. Many times during winter visits, breakfast seldom varied from rice-gruel and buns, and at dinner, bamboo shoot and sometime peas, were often the only vegetables. At one point I had “paddy rat” for meat. As the New China emerged from the years of Mao, and the gates of trade opened, every fruit, vegetable, or ANYTHING else you could possibly imagine eating flowed into this country from their “neighbors” - which at this point is every other country in the world. At least 1/2 of the items in this market I can NOT identify, and many things I have never even SEEN before. It is always a curious conversation trying to learn more about things unfamiliar, especially food, when you do not speak the same language.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #143
Suzhou #143:  Another aspect of the “new” Suzhou was the opening of numerous “high-end” restaurants. Suzhou always had good food in many establishments, but with the growth of wealth in the larger public, more VERY FANCY restaurants appeared as did China’s very first Kentucky Fried Chicken location. (My Chinese friends say it does not taste like chicken to them and they refer to it as Kentucky Fried Cat, LOL). These trendy new restaurants often had unusual strange signage, unusual dishes, and ridiculous prices. For example: on a window facing a busy boulevard intersection, "Hong Kong Canton Cuisine Abalone King Vigor.” Or, how about a bowl of tiger penis soup for $320? What did NOT change, and in fact got better, were traditional Suzhou dishes, pastries, and buns that were made daily by street vendors. The vendors developed much tidier, cleaner habits to make their small shops more attractive and although all is quiet here at the moment, we are about 20min from noon lunch and this place will be bustling. (The steamed buns are fantastic!)
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #142
Suzhou #142:  After all the “improved" streets got lights and the adjacent homes and businesses received electricity, the “new” Suzhou, slowly crept back to some of the historically “old” ways - in this case, merchants “appropriating” the sidewalk. I love walking these streets bustling with commerce and a myriad of shops. It always amazes me to see what items a merchant feels he can sell and what is stocked. During these years of visiting the modernizing Suzhou, I was invited to a remarkable press conference and banquet. Organized by Dr. Tsung-Dao Lee, these events were intended to honor Zhang and the work of her embroidery group. Lee was born in Suzhou, and having won the Nobel Prize in Physics, he was publicly treated like a rock star in China. The embroidery group had rendered an image for him of a quark particle and he found the finished piece spectacular. He also thought the work they were doing with me was really groundbreaking, so he hosted a "city-wide” event that was on national television, and we had a panel discussion as well as individual interviews. AFTER the all-morning Q&A, about 40 of us retreated to a restaurant with an opulent private room. The attendants took our jackets, hung them on our chairs, and draped them with plastic covers - the EATING was about to begin! I am not making this up - 50 courses, over 4hrs. - ALL delicious, incredibly balanced, and NOT filling. Now as to the drinking and toasting, well, it IS China, and we did. Later, a sign I noticed outside the restaurant summed it up as only translated Chinese can: “Your Coming Makes Us Joyful and Appreciative."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #141
Suzhou #141:  If you have followed this blog from the beginning, this may look familiar. Check post #36. The difference is 30yrs. As I have repeated many times, it is amazing how the more things change, the more they stay the same. The house is bigger and perhaps the yard is as well, but the personal pleasure of being in the garden to work or to ponder clearly lives on regardless of change and modernization. Outside the quietude of the garden and canal, the streets are bustling, and the "change" is very apparent. For this post I am left contemplating a billboard that offers no brand, no advertisement, and no specific product I can identify but it DOES FEATURE three Caucasian girls in cowboy hats with their pants down around their ankles, and they are all wearing brightly colored, flowered underwear, and flirting with the camera. What????
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #140
Suzhou #140:  Another of the changes it was good to see over my 30yrs of visiting Suzhou involves the caring-for of gardens and plantings. In the early posts of this blog, #42-#43 & #52, I showed you a garden and potted bonsai trees behind my hotel at the time, where things were mostly abandoned, and eventually the bonsai's were unpotted and sold off. The good news is that they were sold to hotels and companies that repotted them and they are now receiving a new, and much better, level of care. In fact, hotel and corporate gardens are spruced up daily, and as you see here, the concept of "bonsai" has grown to a much larger scale. This is the front of a hotel on a major boulevard. Look how nicely kept the plantings are. I suppose it is therefore inevitable that I saw this printed on the wheel cover of a Range Rover SUV: "Prada: Beautiful Nature Is Our Precious Property." A Range Rover SUV? Prada? Suzhou? What?????
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #139
Suzhou #139:  I have said many times in both this blog and my other on Shanghai, that many things change, and yet remain the same, OR at least, similar. In these next few pictures you can really have fun with this blog because I am going to post contemporary shots that reference ones previously posted from the 1980's. What you see here is the new, sparkling white Suzhou with a re-engineered canal that now serves as a median divider for a major street. Go back to the beginning of this blog and scroll through the MANY pictures of the streets and canals then - THE CONTRAST IS AMAZING! Many boats still ply the new canals, but now they are not industrial barges, they carry tourists and as you see here, canal "cleaners." The water in the new canals is MUCH cleaner, and people like these in the picture, actually patrol the waterways and use the net to scoop up trash and litter. Again, in reference to the early pictures posted and this recent view of the city, last weeks I offered some sizable figures about infrastructure growth and the resources they have used, so here is a bit more. To get to this (above) at one point in any given year, China consumed 40% of the world's steel, 30% of the world's coal, and 20% of the copper and aluminum. In a matter of a few weeks, raw material thieves stole 4,740 manhole covers in Shanghai. So, today I leave you with 3 quotes I see strangely connected to this stunning transformation. The first from a billboard seen in many places: "Grant us an honor and China will reward the world with new Splendor." However, to do so a street banner reminded all passing by to: "Optimize the Opportunity for Tax Payment." Leaving us finally with the blunt truth: "Live Now, Life is Short, Time is Luck."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #138
Suzhou #138:  As this blog nears an end, I am going to show you some random pictures, make some random comments, and offer you a collection of facts, phrases, and public postings that I have stumbled on over the years. This first set of figures is actually dated and the numbers are probably larger than when I acquired this information, but it still speaks to the fact that ALL of this happened in the relatively short space of time since I started visiting in 1985. Dated or not, this is amazing: When I first arrived in Suzhou, there were an estimated 6-MILLION bicycles and less than 500 cars. At this same time, in the ENTIRE country there was only about 170 miles of expressway. They now have more than 50,000 miles of expressway, a greater amount than the US. To do that, at one point China was using 55% of all the concrete produced in the world in a given year. I am not sure now they would still embrace this slogan today, given the traffic congestion of most cities and the astounding air pollution, especially Beijing and Shanghai, but in the mid-90's, a billboard in Xian read, "Traffic Creates Fine Environment - Everyone Creates Wealth." Be careful what you wish for!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #137
Suzhou #137:  Of course, a humble administrator might likely be accompanied by a wife, and as you can see, she was equally humble - a very discreet pair at any party I am sure! Much of this garment is, or has embroidery. The hat is trippy to say the least. And there is nothing like that Chinese "red" to set off all the other flashy colors. What I realize now is that I should have asked about the beads strung together to hold the tassels - are they PEARLS?????? What???? They did not have plastic, and the beads seem irregular in shape and size. If they were glass, I would expect more consistency, and NOT such a lustrous color. If they are pearls, holy cow, this is some serious friggin' riggin' to show wealth and power.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #136
Suzhou #136:  This embroidered robe is pretty much off-the-chart. Dressed like this, I am sure this "humble administrator" would have been a quite a sartorial hit at Burning Man. The dragon and many details are actual gold thread (not to be ostentatious), and that hat is just a frenzy of little pointy shapes and more dragons. I am quite certain when this gentleman went out, everyone noticed. I suppose it is of some relief that although his decorations represent many dragons, they are all "happy" dragons as opposed to angry ones. You would be a happy humble administrator to if you could afford to dress like this.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #135
Suzhou #135:  The 3 cases housed complete wardrobes of various figures within the culture, including a warrior, and a man and woman of wealth and position. ALL the clothing was richly detailed, much of it with embroidery. Above, there is embroidery in the fabric parts of this warriors body armor, BUT ALSO NOTE the equally stunning detail in the protective metal plates. The many small plates cleverly stitched together gave protection but allowed for flexibility as well. I would bet this weighed quite a lot, but probably no where near as much as the chain-mail and and iron plate of the European knights.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #134
Suzhou #134:  Of the many walk-arounds I did with Shen in Suzhou, on one hot and steamy day, he told me he wanted to introduce me to someone, and he brought me here. At the time, this was the Suzhou Museum of Embroidery, and although I did not know it, they knew of me and the work I was doing with Zhang Meifang. The director met us at the moon gate, and was most complimentary about the success of my collaboration and how it had brought new attention AND change to Suzhou embroidery. He then ushered us inside. Very "old school," the museum was dark and cool, but the various objects were beautifully displayed. As you might expect, there were numerous 1-sided embroideries hanging on the walls, and some screens both on the floor, and smaller ones on tables, but for me it was a special set of standing display cases that stole the show. In those cases were the wardrobes of wealthy Chinese who had their clothes heavily decorated with embroidery - some of the first embroidery that brought fame to Suzhou.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #133
Suzhou #133:  As he developed his own style and subject matter, Shen continued to look at the changing China around him and to take pictures on the street during the travel for his projects. While I like many of the embroideries he has made based on his projects, it is the occasional street picture he captures that mean the most to me, and this is one of my favorites for many reasons. It is a great embroidery that embraces the textures within the subject, and the subject is one that only Shen might have approached because he could have a casual conversation. This image is also symbolic for me because embroidery was always the embellishment of the wealthy classes in China, and if not decorating clothing, it was as used for portraits of important people. No embroidery ever before spent such an exorbitant amount of time, effort, and skill on this kind of subject matter. For Shen, this is also symbolic, because it is part of China that is disappearing before his eyes.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #132
Suzhou #132:  Here Shen stands with one of the embroiderers in his workshop who did the piece you see behind them. And yes, that is Shen in the embroidery and the photograph was taken by Sunny. When I first met Shen, he had already begun his studio and had done numerous embroideries of his photographs of New York. They had not sold well and I felt he should consider other subject matter anyway. AS he indicated he was going to stay in China for sometime, I suggested he take his camera into the street. As he was Chinese, he would see things unique to modernizing China, AND he would be able to connect and communicate about them in a way I never could. He took that advice very much to heart and began a series of ambitious projects involving famous sites/events such as this raging flood shown here, the Great Wall from locations little known and seldom visited, and retracing the steps of the Long March. The detailing of the water in this embroidery is especially dramatic and effective, and having been a professional at marketing in the US, he knew a shot like this of himself would serve as both a powerful embroidery and a great promotional piece.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #131
Suzhou #131:  If you have followed this blog, you know by now that the images are a result of wandering the streets of Suzhou in between working sessions with the embroidery workshop with whom I have been collaborating since 1985. While considerably ignored here in the US, in China these embroideries have made me quite visible, especially because of television coverage. I am so "visible" on the street in Suzhou occasionally people will say hello (Hello, Mr. Robert!) or engage me in conversation because they have seen me and my work in a broadcast. One day I was approached by this man, who identified himself as Shen Young. Not only did he know who I was, he knew a great deal about my embroidery work. At the time, Shen was an American living in New York and he represented an athletic sports shoe company that sponsored international stars, especially tennis players. Shen was born in China, but escaped during the Mao era, worked his way to the states and became a very successful citizen here. I did not know it at the time of our meeting, but I would learn that Shen was also at great changing point in his life, and he had returned to Suzhou to live for awhile in the New China. More amazingly, he was leaving his established business, and inspired by what he had seen me doing with the embroidery group with whom I worked, HE HAD BEGUN HIS OWN STUDIO and was producing embroideries based on his photography. (Standing next to Shen in this picture is Chen "Sunny" Zhuqing, his current wife and mother of his most recent child - these are two very fun people.)
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #130
Suzhou #130:  As I am drawing close to the end of this blog, I am going to leave Panmen park and go back out on the street for a few last "observations." If you have followed my ramblings here, you know I LOVE the funny way english words and signage translate. Over many posts I have offered numerous examples from gardens to construction sites - "beware of safety" - but strange word choices are NOT just limited to signage. Menus certainly get weird, and then THERE IS THIS. I am not sure how Toyota thought it was branding itself with this particular model name, but it certainly reads humorously. Do you suppose it has a frig and bar instead of a glove compartment?
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #129
Suzhou #129:  This is the Ruiguang Pagoda, the oldest in Suzhou and a remarkable 175ft tall, built with 8-sides and rising 7-stories. The pagoda, the various halls, and the Weng Gate, all shown in previous posts are part of the Panmen Scenic Area. Certainly worth a visit because of the excellent gardens and notable historical structures, another aspect I love about Panmen is the way it is described on both park signs and in the official Chinese travel guide (see above link). Park signs refer to Ruiguang as Auspicious Lustre Pagoda. Then there is Reconstructed Hall of Four Auspicious Merits, Beautiful Scenery Storied Building Billows - Hiding Green Forests Pavilion, and last but not least, Freeing Captive Fish Pool. A compliment to these wonders, the travel guide assures us that this is a "National AAAAA Tourist Area" and "after admiring the scenic spots, you will be satisfied with traditional Chinese activities like bell tolling and acrobatics."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #128
Suzhou #128:  I am not exactly sure how they get the cherry trees to bloom this way, but it makes for a nice framing of some magnificent architecture. This pavilion has been meticulously restored and is a spectacular example of multi-story engineering as an art form. I love the grace of the up-curving corners of the roofline, and the extensive wood moldings and carved details. In the steaming heat of the summer, it is also cooler in the central hall - probably a great place to lounge and listen to local female singers renowned for their unique voices and styles, whose singing was said to "relax and refresh."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #127
Suzhou #127:  After studying the architecture of the Weng Gate, I was glad I was never part of an army attempting to invade Suzhou. The light rain had stopped falling and the warm humidity of spring filled the air, so I returned to the garden and began to follow the labyrinth of paths and bridges that lead me to various views and architectural embellishments. Here a moon bridge connects two pavilions placed to provide pleasing views of the garden for those that might sit in them. As you can see, the garden is just beginning to bloom and that will become quite striking as I approach the central building, the plaza, and the historic pagoda because there are many cherry trees surrounding them and today they are going off.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #126
Suzhou #126:  2,500 years ago the administrator, Wu Zixu planned and constructed the city of Suzhou and surrounded it with a massive defensive wall. The wall had 8 city gates that all faced in VERY specific directions of proper alignment. Some of the gates were land gates, some were water gates on the canals, but ALL of them were cleverly designed to trap any invaders in an inner courtyard enclosed by steep walls from which they could be mercilessly attacked from a protected position above. Most of the wall and many of the gates have since been lost to redevelopment and modernization, but in this park, historic preservation has saved a remarkable collection of ancient Chinese construction and it is MOST impressive.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #125
Suzhou #125:  A beautiful garden in a light rain is often very enjoyable, and this one certainly was. Look at the attentive design details EVERYWHERE. For me, however, it is the combination of garden and architecture that makes this park so interesting. You are now beginning to see some of it, including the historic pagoda I mentioned previously. We will eventually go up into this complex to view the pagoda more closely, but for the moment we are headed to the Weng Gate, a defensive area built into the ancient city walls (constructed around 514BC).
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #124
Suzhou #124:  The park on the other side of my hotel's garden gate was noticeably more expansive than the hotel gardens, but it had the same laborious attentive detail that all the more popular gardens were showing. Waterways, paths, bridges, and color planting groups set of the historic architectural structures and provided "appropriate" views to enjoy the surroundings. On this particular morning it had rained earlier, but now it was warm and humid and many people were wandering through the gardens. Some were even practicing tai-chi as a large group in one of the plazas. It was early spring and the garden was just waking up but it made for some iconic pictures as you will see. Of course, blossoming trees and exotic Chinese architecture are involved!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #123
Suzhou #123:   I was in a relatively new hotel, but it had been built by Chinese investors, not an international group, and so there were many features to the hotel grounds that not only echoed the culture but the historic gardens around Suzhou. This is a small section of the hotel garden between rooms, replete with a designed stone path, various Taihu rocks, a small moon bridge, and lush vegetation. As the back wall of the hotel lies adjacent an historic park and garden, one of these paths through the hotel grounds leads to an unannounced gate from which guests may access that park. The gardens within the historic park are quite nice as well, but the main attraction to me are the numerous, well-renovated structures that date back centuries. One of those is an original canal gate through the a remaining portion of the fortified wall built around the heart of the old city. The other is a VERY tall ancient pagoda tower. Amazing! Next week, come take a walk in the park with me. 
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #122
Suzhou #122:  After a long, and very productive day over a stunning amount of coffee, tea, food, and beer, I was returned to my hotel to waddle off to bed. Of course there was a light show going on there as well. As we are drawing nearer to the end of this blog, I am going to offer up a few of my random pictures, all contemporary. These images in some cases will be things I have been given access to because of my long friendship with members of this community. Some images will also revel in the playful weirdness of "the street," and a few will offer up GREAT historical restorations done on ancient structures. The first of these pictures I will introduce next week because they were made adjacent this hotel, and guests not only "borrow-the-view," but they have private access through a gate in OUR garden, to the historic garden and park next door. Come for a walk in the garden!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #121
Suzhou #121:   From some sort of community central command, the sudden darkening of the night sky was shattered as simultaneously lights came on EVERYWHERE! Not just street lamps, but building lights as well, and numerous unique display lights that involved colors, or changing colors. You saw this bridge previously in post #119 and now it has become one of the changing light displays - different colors rotate through a cycle that is also synched with color changes on other bridges nearby - very dramatic and theatrical. I also love the illuminated windows in the distant building that look like floating crucifixes. The amazing part of all of this, of course, is that there are so few of us here to enjoy the show. Consider HOW MUCH is being illuminated for virtually no reason, AND what the cost of that must be (to all of us.)
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #120
Suzhou #120:   The dinner was lovely and our restaurant remained busy but the longer I pondered my surroundings the stranger things seemed. It was a gorgeous, warm Suzhou spring evening and there was scant evidence of human habitation on this planet. That may be the New World Home across the canal but whose home? And the restaurant next door isn't open. No one is out walking. No one is boating. VERY strange. This is not one of China's "ghost cities" that literally have been built out completely and virtually no one lives in them, but this is clearly a part of Suzhou to which the buzzing street nightlife of downtown has not yet extended. I am not complaining. It is very restive and tranquil and for once sidewalk crowds, endless construction, and the sounds of traffic are NOT part of the experience.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #119
Suzhou #119:   In the course of my photographic career, I have often been accused of making a lot of pictures WITHOUT people in them. Once I began to shoot on the street in #China, however, I doubted I would be able to make a picture that did NOT HAVE people in it because they were everywhere. Thus as my colleagues and I enjoyed a most excellent meal, it did seem increasingly strange that the surrounding "new city" was SO quiet. There ARE actually two people on the bridge in this image, but I must have a hundred moon-gate bridge shots around the city, and those images are swarming with people and the bridge traffic is bustling. Regardless of it being a bit odd, it was a lovely, warm evening with friends - and when the sun goes down, the lights will come on!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #118
Suzhou #118:  As our walk continued, the last light of early evening was upon us when we entered a very different part of the lakeshore development. This area was a kind of grand plaza of buildings on either side of a canal that came off of the lake. Again I was struck by how few people there were, but Zhang and Dr. He assured me, "build it and they will come." In this mixed complex were retail spaces, restaurants, institutional buildings, and apartments, and we were headed for a VERY modern "new #Suzhou style" restaurant. Occasionally we would see a few others, but it was very quiet until we neared the restaurant, and then we clearly found more people in one place than we had seen all day. The restaurant WAS a popular destination, AND we would have yet another meal!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #117
Suzhou #117:  After the viewing pavilion, we continued our walk towards our dinner destination. At one point we came to a very interesting part of the lakeshore that hosted a small community of "house boats." These were NOT the small canal boats with thatched roofs that people lived on when I first arrived in the 1980's. These were house boats not dissimilar to houseboats in #Sausalito or elsewhere in the US. They were quite opulent, and as you can see in the details here, also nicely decorated. Little did I know as I drank in my surroundings in the soft light of the setting sun that we were about to experience this new community in a VERY different way. Once it got dark, the lighting would come on.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #116
Suzhou #116:  Our walk brought us to a lake-viewing pavilion. There was a gentle, warm breeze blowing at the end of a VERY nice #Suzhou day. We had been discussing our collaborative work throughout much of the day and I think we were talked out business-wise, so we all fell silent as we enjoyed the view and the caress of the wind. In the quietude I pondered what an amazing experience this 25+ year exchange and collaboration had been, and how lucky I was to have not only succeeded in making some very different works of art, but also in being a witness to much of #China's transformation, some of the results of which lay before me. Apartment and business towers sprouted around the shoreline of the lake like mushrooms after a rain. The rice paddies and hot houses were definitely GONE, but hey, you ought to see the new international soccer stadium!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #115
Suzhou #115:   I spent most of this day discussing business with my colleagues, #ZhangMeifang, her son #ZhangFan, and Dr. #HeShanan and in the course of that time we had an opulent lunch, a long tea, and now in the late afternoon we were walking to where we would have dinner. This peninsula onto a lake has numerous cafes, restaurants, and banquet halls, all connected by nicely groomed paths. Here in the warm light at the end of the day we are strolling toward a "floating" viewing pavilion to take in the view of the new metropolis of #Suzhou and the surrounding recently developed areas.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #114
Suzhou #114:   In another even larger establishment along our late afternoon walk through this "new" district in #Suzhou, there were dining rooms for business groups where most sat at one or two VERY large tables to eat, and then there were speeches and presentations from a podium or formal area as you see here. Again the moongate motif is a nice bit of "framing" architecture, and the inlay on the wall behind is spectacular. Although I did not know it at the time, I would attend a banquet such as this. Work being done by the embroiderers with whom I was collaborating was featured on national #Chinese television, and the workshop received formal recognition from the government. A great feast was hosted following an all morning press conference and myself, several other prominent Chinese painters, a Nobel awardee, and lots of politicians sat down for a 50-COURSE meal that lasted four hours. I am NOT making that up! (It was FANTASTIC!)
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #113
Suzhou #113:  The business discussion amongst our group continued in the lovely tea room and we seldom saw any other customers. It was VERY quiet, but also VERY nice. After some hours, we decided to take another walk around to stretch our legs, but before departing I took in a display of tea serving ceramics that I was surprised to learn was historic and of museum quality (decorating a tea house?). Our stroll took us through a cluster of restaurants built along a lakeshore, and as it was late afternoon and no one around, staff everywhere were preparing for the dinner patrons and I stuck my head in many doors to see what these stylish new places looked like. This one specializes in banquets and is set up as a series of rooms that can host different large parties in each. If you look at the early pictures in this blog, and compare it to the opulence of this, it is hard to imagine it only took 25-years for so much change. I especially love the moongate entrance to this room, the harmony of colors, and the awesome tapestry on the wall! Waiter! A round of Moutai for all!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #112
Suzhou #112:  My colleagues and I spent a good deal of time at the coffee shop discussing business, and as the afternoon wore on Zhang suggested we take a walk by the lake, and head for another location with a nice garden and tea house. It was a great day in #Suzhou, not too hot nor humid, but sunny and not a cloud in the sky. This "district" we were walking through would have been upscale in any city in the world. Everything was new, but very nicely integrated with plantings along the pedestrian walking paths. These are the outside tables of the tea house which would be our next stop and a place to continue our discussions. This was definitely NOT "historic" Suzhou!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #111
Suzhou #111:  After "brunch" we waddled out to our car and proceeded with the drive. There were few vacant lots at this point. Most had seen considerable construction and others were now parks and esplanades. The care-taking was beautiful, and workers were everywhere, gardening, raking, planting - in fact, at the moment of our drive, there were many more workers apparent than anyone else. These new areas still seemed very "quiet" as public locations. Eventually our drive brought us to a lakeshore that offered some great views that truly expanded my sense of how large the scale of #Suzhou's development was (note the tower complexes across the lake). Our intended goal this afternoon was a complex of restaurants and tea gardens in a part of this new district on a peninsula of the lake that was now considered quite hip. Our first stop, however, was a coffee house where for the first time I began to see the "new" Suzhou. #Zhang's son excluded, she, #DrHe, and I were the oldest in there for sure, and virtually EVERYONE was on their laptop or phone.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #110
Suzhou #110:   My next surprise on our return trip into the newly developed sections of #Suzhou was our stop for lunch. #Zhang and #DrHeShanan always indulged the fact that I liked #Chinese food and we regularly ate at excellent restaurants, some quite opulent. BUT THIS, this was something else! This was sparkling and sprawling. Although there were many tables, the food service area was larger than the seating and was comprised of LAVISH "stations:" sushi; 20 different pastas; dumplings of every description; endless steamers of rice and vegetable dishes; every description of meat and fish including prosciutto; over 30 different breads; a vast salad bar; AND a dessert bar featuring an ice cream cone "tree" sculpture showing off 15 different styles of cones. It was going to be a long day. This was just our first stop and they all would involve eating!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #109
Suzhou #109:   Most of the embroidery projects that brought me to #Suzhou (see my embroideries blog) had grown much larger in scale and were more time consuming, often taking several years to complete. As a consequence, my several-visits-per-year declined to once-a-year, so often there were VERY dramatic changes upon my next arrival because #China was undergoing such rapid redevelopment and modernization. In post #89, I relate being taken for a drive through the newly developing sections of the expanding city, an excursion that involved a myriad of construction lots and finished streets, but NOT many actual buildings. Some years later, on a return visit, once again Zhang wanted to take me into this "new" district. As we drove, I recognized our location, but the vacant lots were gone and new offices and apartment complexes sprouted everywhere. Everything you see above, and in the next few posts, was agricultural land when I first arrived.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #108
Suzhou #108:   Not only is crossing the bike/scooter lane harrowing as a pedestrian, driving in it is like Nascar racing, however with no protective equipment! No one wears helmets, very young children ride with their parents, people carry ridiculous packages and objects, there is EPIC dodging and weaving, and every stop light is like the start of a race. As I've said before, most of the older #Chinese have embraced all of this... sort of! Clearly this couple has stepped forward into the modern China. He is riding a VERY FLASHY bike, he has some groovy hand warmer gloves, and he is bobbing and weaving in the traffic like an NFL running back. SHE, on the other hand, hasn't quite embraced the new world in the same way. It appears old school praying still works best as far as she is concerned.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #107
Suzhou #107:   Turning my back to the "wall of opulence," I'm immediately thrust into #Suzhou reality - rush hour in a light rain. Best not to step off the curb right here unless one is VERY skilled! Passengers departing bus islands have one last gauntlet before they are actually at the sidewalk. The fact that it's raining adds to the thrill of it all. There ARE lulls in the "bike lane" BUT they can be few and far between during peak rush hour. It does make for amusing viewing, however, because everything is in play. When they see me and my camera, people wave, people yell things, people hide their face, AND people carry the craziest %#*! I have ever seen attempted on a motorcycle!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #106
Suzhou #106:   Seriously!?! In all fairness, I've never actually seen a pair of these worn out on the street, not even by humble administrators. Nonetheless, ALL the players are here in Suzhou now. This window was right next to an entire block of Cartier (©Cartier). And, as for the handbag, EVERYONE has one of those. Of course, they got theirs from a small off-alley store, and not directly from Louis himself. Things are cheaper when you don't have all the window display costs (LOL). For me, however, this moment is part of the fun I have in China, because next week I am simply going to turn around and show you what is happening behind me. Dazzling as this display is, it hardly catches anyone's attention because of what else is occurring.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #105
Suzhou #105:  Mermaids selling laptops wasn't the only over-the-top display advertising. Check out this "little" window display. Want to hazard a guess about the seller of this product? Let me give you a small clue. These are NOT the slipper/sandals I have bought many times in the street stalls and stores that used to be here. In fact, if you added up ALL the slippers/sandals I have bought over my 30-years of visiting, you would still not equal the cost of this par of shoes. It IS hard for me to imagine the Suzhou I know, ever even letting these guys out of their glass cage. LOL!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #104
Suzhou #104:  Personally I think these billboards make it pretty clear, #Suzhou, (indeed ALL of #China), was never going back to the “good old days.” When I first arrived, many embroiderers didn't have telephones; there were no personal music devices; no Internet; and few personal computers. Now everyone has a cellphone! And based on the above, mermaids are now selling air-books to the general population. Perhaps more amazing, in the face of such a massive transition, the Chinese took it ALL in stride, and went from no-phone to tweeting in the blink of an eye.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #103
Suzhou #103:  The “appropriated” sidewalks tended to occur most on smaller side streets rather than the more trafficked avenues. In some concentrated blocks the accumulation of goods made walking and window-shopping like navigating an obstacle course! Supporting that concept, as I stopped to take this picture of a rather aggressive appropriation, the elderly woman walked through alternately muttering to herself, and then speaking loudly. When I asked my associate what she was saying, I was told she was berating the store owner for blocking her path, and telling him that she expected a discount if she ever had to shop there! (LOL)
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #102
Suzhou #102:  The largess of the new #Suzhou manifested itself in many ways. The sheer amount of products that were now available was mind-boggling compared to what I experienced in the 80's. More people with more money to buy those "more" goods. Problem is, sometimes a store gets spruced-up, but not necessarily made larger even though they have more goods and more customers, so here we see a bit of "appropriating" the sidewalk. This action is not unique either, but actually rather widespread, so it always makes navigating the sidewalks more interesting. Think you could get away with this in New York?
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #101
Suzhou #101:  Out for a stroll in the neighborhood, taking in all of the changes in the appearance of the street. I knew as #China modernized, #Suzhou would have more cars, etc. however in 1986 I don’t believe I EVER imagined that the massive traffic of bicycles and street pedestrians would be replaced by high-end luxury cars vying for lane right-of-way. Check out post #99, and realize that this is all going on at the same time, and in the same place. Chinese dodgeball!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #100
Suzhou #100:  Where does all that litter come from? You forget, THIS is the NEW #Suzhou, and one of the epicenters of the Chinese economy going / growing wild. Check out all of the shiny new taxis. But more to the point, I'm sure you've noticed the young lady in front of me that has clearly been out shopping. Not only has she acquired so many things it makes balancing her scooter a bit more tricky, but she is also now so "wide" she can't navigate the bike / motorcycle lane, so she's weaving her way through the street traffic, and trying not to whack the vehicles she passes!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #99
Suzhou #99:  Once trash collection and recycling became valuable, an entire network of street people and the neighborhoods in which they would work was created. Most of these laborers were very poor, but it was a great boon for many of them to suddenly find worth in materials that were formally left discarded in alleys and rotting in the street gutters. There were also people with canal boats that formerly lived in them along the canals, and they had become "canal keepers" collecting trash and debris from the water using skim nets. This rise of the recycling class completely transformed the look of #China's cities and countryside. When Carey and I first arrived in the '80's, there was litter EVERYWHERE, even in the rainforest reserve where we first worked. Because of this new Chinese mindset, cities like #Suzhou now strike me as SHOCKINGLY clean.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #98
Suzhou #98:  When we first came into #China in 1986, Carey and I often found ourselves surrounded by three ever-present parts of Chinese street culture at that time:  1) there was a GREAT deal of smoking, especially by men; 2) there was a great deal of spitting, especially by men; 3) and their was a great deal of litter, both sexes participating equally in this one. Once driving through a rural area, a girl in my car threw out dead batteries from her Walkman, and I said to the translator that is was a bad habit because batteries, in particular, were such toxic litter. The translator told me the girl did it to show she could afford to throw them away, as she had replacements. In the new #Suzhou -- and generally in the new China -- smoking, spitting, and litter were targeted as publicly incorrect, and there was a considerable transformation of public attitude. What was formerly litter, was now aggressively collected and recycled, as you can see here. A new kind of "worker" appeared in both the streets AND in the canals, dedicated exclusively to trash collection / removal / recycling.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #97
Suzhou #97:  Outside my hotel, the neighborhoods were still under the remodeling siege, yet the NEW #Suzhou was looking VERY stylish (and young.) Here the mom is riding a designer electric scooter, and has matching tennis shoes! It's a cool spring, so her gloves are a very nice touch. I am SO American, however, because I'm still amazed when I see people riding without helmets, and in serious traffic no less! Well, not to mention doing so with your child riding behind you....
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #96
Suzhou #96:  In the new #Suzhou, traffic got exponentially worse, and very much like living in #LosAngeles, you must plan any car travel around avoiding peak congestion. Many new hotels also arose, and #Zhang moved me from one to another as they were built, partially to see if I preferred one over the other, and partially to make the commute to the institute as simple as possible. Then Sheraton (@SheratonHotels) partnered with a Chinese investor and built this, now Pan Pacific Suzhou. Adjacent an historic park that featured a remarkable pagoda and a section of the old wall and canal gate, the hotel was designed to harmonize with the historical structures in the park. It also had extensive gardens that echoed the larger ones next door. As a perk to hotel guests, we were allowed our own entrance gate to the park, so once again I was witness to the architectural trick of "borrowing the view." Conveniently, the hotel was also close to the institute. Interestingly, it had a very large dining room that served both western and Chinese food buffet-style, and Zhang and Dr. #He liked the western food so much they frequently chose to meet with me at the hotel for our meals.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #95
Suzhou #95:   I warned you! The "new" #Suzhou is a bit flashier, even on the grey-est, rainy-est days. With a love of color, design, and visual electronic gadgetry, contemporary-style advertising was a perfect intersection for the #Chinese consciousness. No roll out could ever be too big, or too over-the-top. In this case, I believe a new car was being given away, however the person that really made out on this display was the flag salesman. In the brisk breeze there was also a notable roar of flapping every time a gust came by, and many people simply stopped to watch the flags "dance." Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #94
Suzhou #94:   This picture was taken in 1986 when Carey and I left our hotel for our FIRST walk on the streets of #Suzhou. By mid-2000 the street would look VERY different, as you can see from my last post. This will also be my last image of "historic" Suzhou, and from here forth my pictures will revel in the glitter of the new city. As bustling as these streets are, they will appear VERY "quiet" in juxtaposition with what is about to follow. I think you will find the visual journey fun, but definitely NOT the same. As one of my more contemporary Chinese friends explained to me, "Suzhou is like a great flower, blossoming."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #93
Suzhou #93:   In a way, this blog has been as much for these children as it has been for my regular readers. As you can see from the environment surrounding them in this shot, they never saw old Suzhou as I did, and for whatever reasons the government was not necessarily excited about them revisiting that past, so it censored a small museum exhibit of these images of mine in #China. Now I believe the government is less concerned about such issues, and I hope that some of these children find this blog and ENJOY the amazing “ancient” Suzhou I experienced for several years before it was transformed.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #92
Suzhou #92:   I repeat myself, yet it's hard to resist as she walks by: for all of the epic change, the more things do change, the more some things stay the same. Yes, she does have a new, very cool, 3-wheel bicycle BUT no stinkin’ car or scooter. For some, the “new” was worth an upgrade, but not a lifestyle alteration. They preferred the older, slower ways and the new city embraced them although the streets were considerably more hectic.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #91
Suzhou #91:  Another place color appeared was in the advertising and night lighting. The #Chinese LOVE neon and don’t just use it for signage. Often they will decorate elements of the architecture with neon ‘highlights.” This kind of lighting also took the dark streets of old #Suzhou and turned them into lively night places that people came out and enjoyed. As a non-Chinese voyeur to these scenes, I always loved the huge illuminated Chinese characters. Since I do not read Chinese, I have no idea what the characters mean, and so for me they are just interesting abstract objects injected into the landscape and onto the architecture.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #90
Suzhou #90:  Among the many things that changed notably in the “new” #Suzhou was the presence of color. If you look back through this blog, you will find the early images rendering a world that was often absent much striking color except for the Mao blue. It was traditionally said that among Chinese women, those from Suzhou were considered some of the most beautiful. Color allowed both the city and its residents to “blossom.” Color began to be employed significantly in architectural projects, making the city more visually “lively”, even on the most dreary day. Similarly the “quietly” beautiful women of the previous generation, transitioned into the fashionably beautiful women of the new city, embracing not only elegant and colorful couture, but discarding forever the uniform and unisexual style of the Mao era.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #89
Suzhou #89:  There were mega-construction projects in the “city” of #Suzhou, many new hotels, office towers, and retail gallerias, but the truly large scale construction was actually at the edge of the old city, spreading out vastly into what were formerly agricultural lands. Because I was working on some very large embroideries at the time, all of which took many years to complete, there was a multi-year gap in my visits to Suzhou. Upon my return, Zhang and her son were eager to take me on a drive into this newly developing area. At the time, it was a bit strange because it was only in an early phase of construction, so huge unfinished buildings sat blocks away from each other with undeveloped land in between, and beautifully signed and lit streets wound through endless vacant lots and big construction projects.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #88
Suzhou #88:  This was an amazing construction site to watch because they were actually replacing a street and creating a “new” canal. There was some VERY clever hydrology engineering needed to accomplish the task. There was also another “classic” construction site thing going on here:  the “advisors.” In this case, they are the two “business” men on the wall to the right, squat sitting. These guys were probably on their lunch break and they came here to “watch” the activity. If you will look back through this blog and my other blog about Shanghai, you will probably find “advisors” standing around in EVERY construction site picture.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #87
Suzhou #87:  I am sure this guy thinks it is PREYING Mantis Construction Decoration! Just getting home with the groceries looks as treacherous here as any wilderness hike I have ever been on. I love the little plank walk over the last section of “the pit.” It's unfortunate that at this point in the community of #Suzhou youth there were as yet no #BMX off-rode bicyclists; they would have gone nuts at some of these construction sites. Oh well! Out with old, embrace the new, and BEWARE THE SAFETY!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #86
Suzhou #86:  Previously in my #China blogs I have taken note of Chinese signage that is sometimes very humorous in English translation. The Chinese also use words in surprising ways. One day in my wanderings around the transitional #Suzhou, I found this. It is a HUGE billboard designed to “conceal” a neighborhood being “transformed.” The guy on the ladder I find quite Rene Magritte. Does the image suggest he is peering over the fence at the “new” world? Mantis also seems like an odd choice for the name of a destruction / construction crew because those that previously lived here surely thought the developers were “preying” not "golden." The final touch, of course, is calling it all “construction decoration.” WOW! That is really good. From now on carmaggedon on the #405 freeway will be referred to as construction decoration.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #85
Suzhou #85:  When I first came to #Suzhou in 1986, I rode a bike quite a lot. But, by 1998 I had pretty much stopped riding as it become so congested as to be dangerous and VERY fume-y. This picture says it all. There are still bicycles present, however there are clearly an ever-growing number of motorcycles and scooters. One-stroke gas engines are terrible polluters, however when they were replaced by electric, sometimes the scooters were so quiet as to come up from behind as a “surprise.” Between increasing congestion and “crazies” occasionally entering the bike lane, I decided my relationship with the neighborhoods of Suzhou was now a walking one. Zhang, who always feared I lacked the skills to ride "Chinese-style," was greatly relieved.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #84
Suzhou #84:  So here is the dilemma – who should be where? We have walkers, bikers, and scooters in the bike lane. We also have a motorcycle in the traffic lane, yet I saw plenty of motors in the bike lane as well. Then add a huge expansion of the university system, massive farming acreage given over to corporate parks, and a migration of former agricultural workers into city housing and jobs,..you can see how ALL of these lanes are going to become seriously congested and very quickly.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #83
Suzhou #83:  Initially bike lanes were created using simple railings. And considering the ever-increasing car traffic, they were a much safer and more organized place to ride. A lot of very different users came into the protection of the bike lanes, though, including scooters, and in this case a colorful vendor. Eventually, more permanent bike lanes were created on redesigned streets, however this was an interesting step that would be tested by as much volume as the car traffic; just a different group of crazies!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #82
Suzhou #82:  Within the remodel design of the new #Suzhou, the increase in car traffic caused the need for some streets to be widened. As of 1998, however, bicycles hadn't gone away. When I arrived in Suzhou in 1986, I was told Suzhou had 650,000 bicycles, and less than 1,000 cars. With that ratio changing rapidly, many of the principal streets began to engineer-in bike lanes for safety. Another sign of the new wealth has crept quietly into this image. You can see a lot of bikes parked about here, YET in the center of the foreground are brand new scooters, many of which are now electric. These are the brave forerunners of the “next wave” that would make the streets even more “interesting” than they already were.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #81
Suzhou #81:  In the heart of #Suzhou, the first wave of retail transformation was relatively small in scale, and generally cosmetic. On rainy winter days it got a little messy. Initially new pipes went in with new paving, as the shops remodeled facades and up-scaled, however the traffic volume grew with the surge of car ownership. Then streets had to be widened, and some of the most tree-lined lanes were lost. Trees provide significant shade in the heat of summer though, so the city has been very conscientiously replacing what was lost.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #80
Suzhou #80:  As the new world rises, the old world clings to the edges. Clearly I have a certain nostalgia for the look of the “ancient” city of #Suzhou, however under NO circumstances should people live like this, so the changes have been important. This man is washing dishes in an “old” canal. You don't even want to know about the blobs in the water.... When we first arrived, we were given our own personal chopsticks to keep... and keep clean!!! My hosts wanted us responsible for our own eating utensils so this wouldn't happen to us. To assure their personal health, many people carried dish-sets and chopsticks with them to work on their bicycles. Fortunately these issues are virtually non-existent today.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #79
Suzhou #79:  For me, this image is a visual metaphor for the “tsunami” wave of change that would sweep Old #Suzhou away. “On-the-beach,” in the immediate foreground is an historic canal and home. The canal recedes towards an old bridge and some equally old apartments. The first “wave” lies directly behind the graying plaster of the older structures, where the gleaming white of the new housing and a steel frame bridge appear. The second, much bigger “wave” looms in the distance as office buildings, tourist hotels, hi-rise apartments, and radio towers begin to crowd the skyline.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #78
Suzhou #78:  Neighborhoods would disappear only to be replaced. Canals were redesigned, and re-engineered, but there would still be many canals. Streets were broadened and more were added. Some things, however, would just go away, not ever to be seen in the same way again. One of those characteristics of Old #Suzhou was the presence of the many who lived on their boats. They pretty much vanished in the New Suzhou, so this final “historic” shot reflects my nostalgia for what that time looked like. I hope this person has a heated apartment with running water by now.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #77
Suzhou #77:  These next few posts are the last of my images of historic Suzhou that I have yet to put up. I hope you have been enjoying this view of the city from 1985-1990. Soon, as you will see, many of these “old style” locations will still exist, but it will became impossible to not see them in context of a world that was changing around them, and which would soon engulf them. Families and lifestyles are now better for these changes, however I miss the distinct visual clutter of these lives that cobbled together a great array “stuff” to complete their compounds and small gardens.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #76
Suzhou #76:  All the new construction / the much improved living conditions / the growing university system / and, considerable outside investment partnerships were making Suzhou bustle as I had never witnessed before. Streets grew crowded. COLOR began to return! People went out, and dined out more often. And cars began to replace bicycles. To meet this growth, contractors and their suppliers were pushed to the brink of demand; everyone trying to get the most out of every effort. Check out this cement-sand boat, so completely overloaded that its side-railings are underwater! That was a very busy bridge in the background as well!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #75
EVERYBODY is wondering, “What’s goin’ on?” Change was afoot in the 'hood, and curious things were happening everywhere. Building / re-building grew at an increasingly frenetic pace through the '90's. Walking around was virtually a “new” experience EVERY time I visited. This rate-of-change was certainly jarring, but definitely an upgrade. AND AMAZINGLY -- over my 30-years of visiting -- I would see a good bit of the SOON-to-be-constructed, torn down, and replaced yet again!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #74
Suzhou #74:   "What? When I left for school there was a store here!" In a decade's time #Suzhou would cannibalize itself, and re-emerge transformed:  a glittering new hub of education. Although some form of reconstruction had been ongoing since my arrival in 1985, it was, as you have seen, accomplished with much hand labor, and at a relatively slow pace. By the '90’s that began to change however, as increasingly large industrial equipment began to show up at numerous sites. More equipment; more jobs. Increasing rate of transformation; New Suzhou rising. Hang on! I hope this comes with seat belts!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #73
Suzhou #73:   Needless to say, I was VERY disappointed that ALL of my work was edited out the @ApertureFdn exhibit, "CHINA: Fifty Years Inside The People's Republic," just prior to its opening at the #ShanghaiMuseum. It was probably best that I hadn't invited Zhang yet.  So I NEVER told her about this incident. I was worried that she might become concerned about what I was doing on my own time wandering in Suzhou. Furthermore, I didn't want her to feel responsible if I did something "wrong." Beyond being edited out, HOWEVER, there were no other consequences, so I doubled-down on making those kinds of pictures before the old China was all wiped away. From 1995 to 2000, the impact of the changes was really becoming apparent. To me, one of the most startling changes occurred on this spot;  an elevated view I returned to time-and-again. It had a little bit of everything “rural” about the "old" #Suzhou: ancient, additive housing compounds; small, planted fields; a canal with boat-life; and a considerable pagoda on the skyline. Behind the pagoda, you can see apartments, and commercial businesses, creeping up. Then, in less than one year’s time, everything this side of the pagoda disappeared completely, including the canal!!!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #72
Suzhou #72:   So, the exhibit, “CHINA: Fifty Years Inside The People’s Republic” closed in Hong Kong, the edits were made, and then the somewhat smaller exhibit shipped to the recently opened #Shanghai Museum for its big premier “inside” mainland China. I was excited because I was planning to attend the opening. And I was eager to invite Zhang Meifang to see another side of my photography (in a museum setting) “honoring” the very city in which she lived and worked; images I had made during the time I was collaborating with her. Michael Hoffman, CEO of @ApertureFdn, and organizer of the exhibit and publication, notified all of the edited artists as to what had been removed. So I was surprised when he actually called me. Michael was also quite surprised because he had to inform me that EVERY SINGLE PICTURE OF MINE HAD BEEN EDITED OUT OF THE SHOW! I was stunned, and asked why that would happen? His reply was a phrase I had heard before in reference to another edited artist’s work. “These pictures are of an unhappy time which no one wishes to remember.” WOW! Talk about controlling the minds of the next generation….
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #71
Suzhou #71:   More in line with iconic travel photography, this image by #HirojiKubota shows the ancient practice of fishing with birds. Communities of fishermen, such as these depicted here, are historic, and generally speaking, quite poor by the standards of the New World economy. However, this image was KEPT in the show. I suspect the Minister of Culture felt it represented a face of China known to the world, and one that was seen as "BEAUTIFUL," in spite of the reality of whatever economic conditions these people lived in.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #70
Suzhou #70:   Because I'm scanning these pictures from the actual publication, I'm doing a compositional injustice to this image by Liu Hueng Shing because part of the image is lost in the book seam. Nonetheless, I'm pretty sure most of us understand the circumstance. Liu is a contemporary photographer, and this IS Tiananmen Square shortly before the military began shooting and arresting the protesters. It would have been naïve to think the Minister of Culture would allow this image in to the Shanghai exhibit.  Yet you have to love their explanation for its exclusion. His statement read this was an "unhappy time which no one wished to remember." No s*#%! Especially those who were shot and arrested. It's amazing how much violence can be provoked by non-violence.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #69
Suzhou #69:   Another photographer to experience multiple edits was one of my favorites, #SebastiãoSalgado. Salgado, to me, is one of the best, and most prolific, black & white photographers of my generation. As importantly, much of his work is directed at social injustice, and he has had a long, and abiding, interest in the conditions of the working class. The Minister of Culture allowed some of his images into the show. For instance, one of factory workers, another of a group of people cooking and eating on the sidewalk.  HOWEVER this depiction of workers "resting" in a skyscraper they were building cast the wrong image of the New China rising (quite literally). In reality, it was true that many construction workers had come into Shanghai from the country, and had no home in Shanghai, so they actually LIVED in the structure(s) they were building. Salgado's image shown here depicts this, and it was NOT the way China wanted the world to view its new growth, so this picture (1998), and another, were removed.
ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Welcome to Suzhou, 1985 - to the present, #68
Suzhou #68:   Prior to the rise of #Mao Zedong, #Shanghai was viewed by world-travelers as a city that was “wide-open.” Prostitution was prevalent and part of the attraction. Mao banished prostitution during his government, however it re-emerged in the New China, and was visible once again in Shanghai. “Miss Lin” was photographed by Zhang Hai'er in 1989. And because the photograph was SO contemporary, it was part of the “new” Chinese image the Minister of Culture did NOT want to acknowledge. So, this print, and several others of similar women, were edited from Zhang's selection of work.
ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China #Suzhou

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