Midwest show discussion question

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Tim Priest on Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:49 pm

DC,
In your original post you said the tree was in poor health which it is NOT! and as I said the stand the tree was displayed on was the same depth and height and only 1.5 inches longer and very similar style to the one Ryan Neil displayed it on in Rochester. and as I also said, I know the accent plant was not of the correct type to be displayed with the tree but all I had available at the time. With all these faults you speak of, the tree and the care I had given, it was still strong enough to win. I have never said I was a professional and that is why I don't enter my trees in that category. Would you rather me of entered it into the open division and got backlash for that??? Speaking with many people they said I did the correct thing. And also after speaking with other artists 10 times more advanced then you and I both put together, said the tree was in perfect health. On another note.... I don't know where you got that the tree was for display only at the National show...... It was not.... I am the one who entered it into that show as well as the needle juniper. I would highly suggest that you get your facts straight before posting comments.
And on a third note.... When Ryan sold the tree to my client, he knew he was not capable of caring for the trees and only sold them to him under the condition I was taking care of them. I have no idea who you are or of your credentials as a bonsai artist.... So I put more into Ryan's faith in me caring for his favorite tree over anything you think of me and my abilities...

ChandlerBonsai wrote:Please re-read my post. It was objective and open for discussion. This was an interesting tree and a very unique situation based upon my past experience with observing and enjoying this show. The resultant discussion is a great reason why I seldom partcipate in anything on line.

The best tree did win, which is a reflection on the professional artist Ryan Neil. However, the composition was lacking thought and like it or not this is a reflection of the person's ability composing the display and their ability.

I fully support better trees, and I am glad they are available for viewing. We can all learn much by spending the time to view and discuss them. So be it if people purchase and exhibit. In the end I suppose it matters little.

Bonsai is an art form that is at its if a high degree of professionalism, decorum and humility are observed by all. Name calling, accusitory references and "Man up" directives etc have no place.

Mr. Preist,
Now that a lack of humility & decorum has been established. We will all look forward to your delivering upon the assertion to bring something better in the future. You did mention you placed in the "top 10 for 10 years" at this show, as I recall in a non professional class. I would like to challeng you to put your professional "hat" on as it were and deliver a composition worthy of the tree. It is usually unproductive to armchair QB, as I have no access to this caliber of material and I do not know the owner BUT, I certainly would have slected a caretaker with more demonstrated ability and reviewed resumes with a bit better credentials before turning over a tree like this one.

Best regards, Sorry to learn of the owners poor health.
DC



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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Ryan B on Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:54 pm

Tim.
The last thing we want to bring up is the Rigida. For the sake of all involved. Let sleeping dogs lie on that one. It's an awesome tree....super great.
Ryan
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Ryan B on Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:00 pm

Perhaps we should also mention how much your client paid for the tree, with the pot, then entered it into a regional exhibition? If we all had that kind of cash to toss around, the level of quality at shows would certainly be better!!! That's another reason there's an amatuer class, people who do not have the money to buy great trees like this and show them, and must grow and design their own, deserve a place for recognition.
Ryan
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Tim Priest on Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:00 pm

Ryan B wrote:Tim.
The last thing we want to bring up is the Rigida. For the sake of all involved. Let sleeping dogs lie on that one. It's an awesome tree....super great.
Ryan
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/


Thank You Ryan....... That thing is a pain to work on...... It bites very hard....

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Orion on Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:12 pm

It's encouraging to see that so much passion on various points of bonsai in America has taken root, no pun intended, and I certainly don't mean this in a sarcastic tone. I was getting worried that America would forever remain a provincial backwater of the bonsai world.

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  cbobgo on Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:30 pm

I don't want to get into the debate about this particular tree, but I do want to defend the Midwest show and how it is set up.

12 years ago, when I first got into bonsai, I was warmly welcomed into the Midwest club. I was consistently the youngest guy attending meetings, and within a year I was on the board. They are a great group of people, and put on a great show.

I entered a tree in the novice category that year, and was honored to receive a ribbon, which bumped me up to the open category the next year, where I won a ribbon again for a different tree. 2 years later I put together a mame display with several trees and got a "rosette" - only 10 are given out each year to the 10 best trees/displays in the show. Being able to show my little amateur trees early on in the same show with really nice trees from experienced hobbyists and professionals was an honor, and it helped to push my skills to rise up to those levels.

I think having multiple levels is something that should be more widely put in place. I have belonged to other clubs where you could only have your tree shown if it was approved by the "sensei" which left a lot of people out in the cold. Other clubs let everyone in, but all in one category, so the beginners had no real chance of getting any awards. My current club has no awards, its just an exhibition, not a contest.

Competing with others of similar ability is a great way to push yourself to improvement. Getting a ribbon or other prize at a low level really means a lot, and I would encourage all clubs to reward their members who are brave enough to display their trees and are working hard to improve their skills.

- bob




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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Tim Priest on Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:31 pm

Ryan B wrote:Perhaps we should also mention how much your client paid for the tree, with the pot, then entered it into a regional exhibition? If we all had that kind of cash to toss around, the level of quality at shows would certainly be better!!! That's another reason there's an amatuer class, people who do not have the money to buy great trees like this and show them, and must grow and design their own, deserve a place for recognition.
Ryan
http://japanesebonsaipots.net/

Ryan...... You must have talked to me at the show to have known of the value of the tree. But as I said before....... Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition is the show of the most prestige in the world and only for amateurs (non professionals) with trees worth hundreds of thousands...... Did you go to the National show? All one category....... No amateur, no open, no professional.. everyone was on the same playing field. Lots of trees that probably cost way more then this one. And I was very honored to have one of mine accepted in.

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Tim Priest on Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:35 pm

Very Well said Bob....... I Love the Chicago Group and their show.
I work all year getting my trees ready for that show


cbobgo wrote:I don't want to get into the debate about this particular tree, but I do want to defend the Midwest show and how it is set up.

12 years ago, when I first got into bonsai, I was warmly welcomed into the Midwest club. I was consistently the youngest guy attending meetings, and within a year I was on the board. They are a great group of people, and put on a great show.

I entered a tree in the novice category that year, and was honored to receive a ribbon, which bumped me up to the open category the next year, where I won a ribbon again for a different tree. 2 years later I put together a mame display with several trees and got a "rosette" - only 10 are given out each year to the 10 best trees/displays in the show. Being able to show my little amateur trees early on in the same show with really nice trees from experienced hobbyists and professionals was an honor, and it helped to push my skills to rise up to those levels.

I think having multiple levels is something that should be more widely put in place. I have belonged to other clubs where you could only have your tree shown if it was approved by the "sensei" which left a lot of people out in the cold. Other clubs let everyone in, but all in one category, so the beginners had no real chance of getting any awards. My current club has no awards, its just an exhibition, not a contest.

Competing with others of similar ability is a great way to push yourself to improvement. Getting a ribbon or other prize at a low level really means a lot, and I would encourage all clubs to reward their members who are brave enough to display their trees and are working hard to improve their skills.

- bob







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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  DreadyKGB on Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:40 pm

I will say that the ugliness that has reared its head in this thread makes me wish I hadn't gotten involved.

It was a great show with great people who all had valid opinions. Not everyone will see things the same so maybe having critique and criticism doesn't mean that something has been done wrong but more that you have done something right to have someone put the time into the critique.

Todd


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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Poink88 on Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:48 pm

Bob,

For sure there is an advantage to the current set up but you have to weigh both pros and cons. That model, IMHO is great for local club shows but if you are in a regional, national, or international scene, entry requirements should be more stringent. I for one do not want to go to the Olympics to watch every aspiring athletes "play". Would you? Similarly (IMHO) if we want bonsai in USA to progress further...we need to step it up in these higher caliber shows.

Again, JMHO.

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  cbobgo on Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:21 pm

Poink88 wrote:Bob,

For sure there is an advantage to the current set up but you have to weigh both pros and cons. That model, IMHO is great for local club shows but if you are in a regional, national, or international scene, entry requirements should be more stringent. I for one do not want to go to the Olympics to watch every aspiring athletes "play". Would you? Similarly (IMHO) if we want bonsai in USA to progress further...we need to step it up in these higher caliber shows.

Again, JMHO.

The midwest show is not the olympics and has never been presented as such. It is a simple club show, that because of the way it has been designed, has attracted people from a wide range of areas and a wide range of talents. The National show and Ryan's show in Portland can be the Olympics, if that's what they want. I am simply advocating for a way to promote competition and improve member's skills at the club/local level.

I don't see any "con" to the way they have set it up, given that it is a local show.

- bob

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Poink88 on Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:24 pm

Bob,

As I said, I think the model is great for local club shows.

I was on the impression that this is a regional show and it seems others too. Thanks for clarifying that it is not.

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  coh on Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:40 pm

The impression I get from what I have read - never having attended - is that the show is trying to be all things to all people, which I think increases the likelihood that egos will be bruised, feelings hurt, etc.

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Poink88 on Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:44 pm

coh wrote:The impression I get from what I have read - never having attended - is that the show is trying to be all things to all people, which I think increases the likelihood that egos will be bruised, feelings hurt, etc.
After I re-read the thread...I think it is taunted as a local show but being "open" muddied the water.

It looks like a duck, smells like a duck, quacks like a duck, tastes like a duck...but it is chicken. Wink (or one of those things) Razz

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Neil-Dellinger on Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:57 pm

Geez guys! So, I’ll chime in now too as an “interested party” and fellow exhibitor.

Great tree. I took many pictures of the deadwood and some of the technique used to create the design. The tree is so great, that even in an unrefined state it surpassed the rest of the professional division.

Regarding buying/showing & this tree.
I’ve exhibited trees for only the past 13 months of the 7 years I have invested in this artform. So when it comes to the competitive “vested” interest stuff & politics of competition I am new. I’m stoked by the opportunity to compete with the field at this show.

I am thankful to have won best in show in 2011, then 3rd in the professional division this year behind Ryan’s work and Bill Valavanis! It could not have gone better from my “rookie” viewpoint! Now, I grew every branch on my tree and drastically changed the design of the others over the course of 3+ years prior to exhibiting. To me, this is a priceless satisfaction….call me a romantic. I would wish that experience for others, but will not expect it as a requirement.

I have to admit I was shocked to see this thing rolling into the exhibit hall. Especially after it was set down next to my very decent itoigawa. So, of course I moved my tree, lest it be mistaken for the accessory planting to this monster. I will openly admit, that I had an issue with this being entered competitively and voiced my opinion openly to the organizer. That was more akin to “What the hell are US pro basketball players doing in the damn Olympics”. Glad they’re here, fun to see them play from a sheer talent standpoint, but not that much fun to watch them run drills on the rest of the world. Shoot me, but I said something, if you disagree, I don’t care. It didn’t go anywhere so ces las vie, oh well. You know my thoughts, I and I respect yours. We do need to understand & acknowledge that there’s a mindset out there and it will take time in adjusting/educating in order to make the leap. We all need to be open to changing our notions…..me included.


I agree with the idea of limiting awards. I believe last year’s judge (Ryan Neil) said “If a trees not ready don’t bring it”. He did not hand out all the awards, and that ruffled some feathers. But I think its necessary.

Observations and feedback:
-The event is well run/organized & a well attended success, judging was fair.
- In the end its 100% about expanding peoples sense of what good/great really looks like & hoping they strive to raise their own bars.
-Its worthwhile to discuss the question of buying & quickly displaying vs. the flipside. - -We should come to grips with that, especially if we expect to get past “S” curved moyogi pom poms and want to start seeing some great trees more often.
-I do agree with all comments on the overall display and also think equal attention should be given the accents etc…
-I saw some direct feedback provided here with good logic, but no attacks. Keep it clean, the last time I checked there is nothing between any of the lines...literally, nothing.
-People are wound too tight…keep it clean & preserve your dignity by not antagonizing or calling names etc….
-Taxes are high & Illinois Government is messed up
-Labradoodles….WTF?
-Everyone take a break & bring a better tree next year.

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  cbobgo on Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:26 pm

Poink88 wrote:Bob,

As I said, I think the model is great for local club shows.

I was on the impression that this is a regional show and it seems others too. Thanks for clarifying that it is not.

It's not set up as a regional show, but because of the way it is set up, it has attracted people from a wide region. The distinction is small, but important. They are not advertising to the region, saying bring your best trees here, for a regional show. They are just putting on a club show, that happens to be so good that people from a wide region want to go there.

The same thing could be repeated at every club around the country - it's an "if you build it they will come" sort of thing. Put on a high quality show, at a good venue, with decent prizes and people will come.

I don't think they are "trying to be all things to all people." But they are open to anyone who wants to exhibit, according to their rules. If people are not happy with how it is set up, they are welcome to not bring their trees. But people ARE bringing their trees, and additionally, because of the venue, it attracts a ton of the general public. I've been to shows from NY to CA, and I've never seen crowds of people like I see at the Midwest club show.

- bob


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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  DreadyKGB on Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:43 pm

As a beginner myself and having this been only the second time I have put my trees out for anyone outside my close friends and family to see I am glad to have gotten feedback on my work from Peter Warren the guest judge. Did I think that my trees were up to a standard to compete with professional trees? Hell no. Do they still need more years of development and refinement? Hell yes. But again as a beginner I was happy to have a chance to get feedback from a professional bonsai artist. Most of the feedback was expected, some was not. But I liked the fact that I was given positive feedback and ideas to work on with my trees.

I also liked the fact that I could enter my trees in the novice category so it was clear that I had no intention of competing with professionals. This way I didn't feel silly entering a tree I have been working on and am happy with so far against masterpieces. I feel the show is set up so there is no intimidation factor against "rookies" so they are scared to show their work regardless of their level. Just my thoughts.

Todd
P.S. Neil the Bougainvillea keeps getting better and better 3rd show I have seen it in and I love it every time.


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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  marcus watts on Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:29 am

I was giving the subject matter of this thread a lot of thought yesterday....

obviously the guy who was responsible for the tree had to defend it, that is human nature and I would have done the same. But by saying 'the Japanese rich amateurs buy the trees for pros to maintain and enter the kokufu type shows so thats the way it is, end of, get used to it etc' I feel he has totally missed the point of where we can improve on japanese tradition.

In many apsects of this hobby the Japanese are still at the pinacle, they have 100's of years head start and have an undeniable knowledge base - you dont see apprentices saying "i cant wait I'm off to "Korea, China, America, England etc etc for a 5 year stay"....there is one place to go.

Within other competition scenarios shall I pay a runner to win a race and take the credit myself ?, shall I pay a proffessional to take my entry picture for a photo competition ?, the examples could go on and on..........and in every case the answer would be "no, you cant do that", but in judged bonsai competition it is alright because the Japanese do it that way !. I really believe this is a place where we as a bonsai community can improve on the Japanese way of doing things - and it needs this generation of show organisers & judges to have the balls to stand up and define a way that works in western society. It may take a few goes to get a system that works, but there is room for improvement so it is worth working at.

The hobby has proffessionals, and they should always be credited for their work on all tree entry forms, tree name cards etc, as they need advertising like any other business. Club and regional shows should not include the out and out pro trees in the awards though unless there are enough to form a seperate catagory (why would an individual want to steam roller a very good tree through all competition at regional / club level anyway??? )

Once you reach national and international level it should be an open field to all - these shows are the highlight and showcase opportunity of many pros and their business could easily depend on them - and like i said earlier there are as many amateurs with equally good skills and trees to keep them on their toes too.

once the tree has won its major prize that should be it for that show, it keeps the growers working on new material to high standards year after year. If a tree is seen to be declining for whatever reason it should be judged against its prevoius health and refinement - so previously great trees that get sold and let to slip through under skilled keepers would not be winning trees anymore.

Continuity is needed too........but thats probably expecting too much Very Happy

Marcus


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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  my nellie on Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:53 am

marcus watts wrote: ... ... In many apsects of this hobby the Japanese are still at the pinacle, they have 100's of years head start and have an undeniable knowledge base ... ...

Within other competition scenarios shall I pay a runner to win a race and take the credit myself ?, shall I pay a proffessional to take my entry picture for a photo competition ?, the examples could go on and on..........and in every case the answer would be "no, you cant do that", but in judged bonsai competition it is alright because the Japanese do it that way !. I really believe this is a place where we as a bonsai community can improve on the Japanese way of doing things - and it needs this generation of show organisers & judges to have the balls to stand up and define a way that works in western society. It may take a few goes to get a system that works, but there is room for improvement so it is worth working at... ...
Yes! Yes! Yes! I consider myself a beginner, my opinion is not worth anything, BUT I do believe Marcus' judgement is 100% corect and moral!

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  JimLewis on Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:28 pm

Marcus wrote -
Within other competition scenarios shall I pay a runner to win a race and take the credit myself ?, shall I pay a professional to take my entry picture for a photo competition ?, the examples could go on and on..........and in every case the answer would be "no, you cant do that", but in judged bonsai competition it is alright because the Japanese do it that way !.

There is at least one area where the pros compete with the amateurs -- and while there is grumbling about it, it continues. That is the horse show world. It is very common to have had a pro train the horse to a T -- to the point where it could do it with a baby on its back -- then plop the owner into the saddle and let him or her flop their way around the course or through the movements. In other cases, the pro will ride his or her horse in the competition against amateurs. In other cases, the pro will ride (or put the rider on) a horse that is qualified for a much higher level and perform at a lower level. These are all very common occurrences. Of course, the horsey world is a much shadier one than most of us live in, anyway.

Dog and cat shows may also routinely pit the amateur against the pro.

This is NOT to say that western bonsai shows should pit amateurs against pros -- at least not without clear acknowledgement.

(But then, I'm one of those who isn't partial to judged shows, anyway -- but that's a different can of worms.)

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  rockm on Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:18 pm

There is also a correllary in dog shows. Professional handlers, ranked prizes in many categories, regional shows. Unofficial "national show" -- Westminster--sponsored by a local club...etc.

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  wabashene on Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:12 pm

Jeez Mark, where you been hiding?!

Very Happy
timR

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Poink88 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:22 pm

Marcus,

I agree on your post on all counts but we are forgetting (or setting aside) the fact that most great bonsai materials are made by mother nature herself to begin with. The professionals have this advantage of being able to afford and know the right people who can supply them these wonderful yamadori materials so their advantage (on top of their skills, artistry, and knowledge) is multiplied several folds.

It is like you or me driving our daily commuting sedan going against a race driver with his well tuned Formula 1 car (and crew)!!! Bottom line, no matter what you do to your sedan (short of replacing 95% of it), it cannot be an F1...no matter how you practice (unless you have the right stuff to begin with)...you cannot be an F1 race driver.

That said, give me an F1 car and I can go faster but I still cannot beat the F1 driver...I'll probably ruin & crash it actually.

Bonsai...is (or could be) the same. While we (currently) focus more on the tree, it needs someone to get it there and I think that like the race (or a painting, or any art)...the artist is more important in getting it there (finish line/finished tree/art form) and need to be acknowledged. I think for this reason, the masses still perceive bonsai more as a hobby.

If ever, who decides if the culture need to be changed and how?...I am not sure.

We know better but until then, I am afraid bonsai will remain in limbo and not reach the higher level of (living & evolving) art acceptance it so deserves (at least from the masses).

JMHO

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Treedwarfer on Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:34 pm

The more I think about this, the more convinced I become that introducing categories in a show always leads to grumbling and contention and is open to too much abuse. Categorizing professional, amateur and novice opens the flood gates for ringers - people can enter a tree in a lesser category in order to gain an award. What happens, for example, when a bona fide amateur works his own tree under the close guidance of a professional, perhaps over many years or perhaps just in preparation for the show? There are simply too many ifs and buts for a mixed system to work, too many gray areas.

There can be awards for things like best native, best shohin, best deciduous, etc., but it's not necessary to establish entry categories since the judges can tell perfectly well which trees would qualify for which award.

The only real solution is separate shows for amateurs and the "others" (professionals, collectors, institutions, etc). Since the majority of existing shows have been developed by the amateur bonsai community for the amateur bonsai community, they should remain amateur. It is up to the "others" to develop their own circuit of exhibitions, and to do so perhaps they should be looking at cooperating with larger institutions such as museums, horticultural institutions, and so on.

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

Post  Orion on Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:48 pm

One thing that I've wrestled with in my mind and may have some bearing on all the points brought up in this thread has to do with acknowledgement. This is a thorny issue that I think was brought up some time ago, but may help clarify the problems associated with "ringers" and the like. The idea of "fairness" is relative in many cases. Yet as several of you have mentioned there needs to be an equitable way to compare apples to apples.

The idea of an established provenance of a tree would credit not only the owner, but also those who had a hand in either its care and/or creation. At least this way the participants, judges and viewing public can see who had a hand in the tree's evolution. I would go so far as credit who collected the material, if practical. Unfortunately, much of this would ride on the honor system and that can open a whole new can of worms. As Mark and Jim pointed out regarding horses and the like; I've never seen a credible show that does not mention owner, trainer and rider, so why not try to apply a similar standard?

I don't know if this applies to the world of bonsai in America, but another thing to consider is a governing body; for example the AKC for dogs. A uniform set of standards that would be applied at the professional level to all shows regardless of venue. At the amateur level you could have the same concept and possibly prevent the overlap from professional level work from being entered. To me, while many may see this as impracticable at the very least and down right grotesque at the worst, it will lend an overall credibility to the shows where judging of awards take place.

I just want to reiterate that this is an excellent discussion that you guys are having and it's this sort of passion that will elevate the art.

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Re: Midwest show discussion question

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