Dec. 23, 2003 – Steve Simonsen's eagerly awaited coffee-table book of St. John photography is due to arrive on island this week.
Titled "Living Art," the 200-page book celebrates the natural beauty of St. John in 182 images shot by Simonsen, an award-winning photographer who has resided on the island for the last 16 years.
"The Friends of V.I. National Park is proud to be associated with this spectacular photographic essay of St. John," a release from Joe Kessler, Friends president, states.
A portion of the proceeds from sales of the book, which is priced at $60, "will be used to help protect and preserve the natural and cultural resources of the Virgin Islands National Park — the same natural beauty celebrated by this book," according to the release.
The book initially had been scheduled for November delivery. Its arrival now is a little too late for Santa to tuck under the Christmas tree, but in plenty of time to attract the interest of post-holiday shoppers.
To commemorate its arrival, the Friends organization and the Westin Resort are hosting a book launching party from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the resort ballroom. The public is invited. Simonsen will present a slide show of images from the book and will autograph copies for purchasers.
Simonsen and his wife, Janet, were first attracted to St. John by the V.I. National Park and the island's vibrant art community. His photographic quests often have taken him beneath the surface of the sea; he has logged 12,000 dives and the equivalent of 13 months of bottom time in pursuit of underwater imagery. He also has traversed the island's rocky ridges and has been known to hang out of a helicopter to get the stunning aerial views that make "Living Art" a work of reference as well as of art.
His work has appeared in publications of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society and the Audubon Society and in the periodicals Lonely Planet, Sail Islands and Caribbean Travel and Life.
"Living Art" will be available shortly at hotel gift shops, bookstores and other selected retail outlets on St. John and elsewhere in the Virgin Islands. However, when copies are purchased directly from the not-for-profit Friends organization, "a portion of the purchase price may be considered a tax-deductible contribution," a staff member said.
Signed copies also may be ordered online from Simonsen's Web site. For these purchases, too, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Friends organization.

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