American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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Post  Walter Pall on Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:11 pm

JimLewis wrote:
a quote from the post:
"To whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt from David’s comment: “To be fair and honest I don’t believe in “extremely” naturalistic views from artists like Walter Pall, Dan Robinson and a thousand European artists who “sell” this naturalistic approach to Bonsai. In the end they just look like they love the art but they can’t be real bored of wiring again and again and styling their trees for 20 years in a row searching for true perfection like TRUE Japanese Artists have done for more then a 1000 years.” "


Now this I call a great quote. It seems to have become acceptable for some journalists to just invent facts to support their statements. I wonder whether it is already acceptable to do so in a civilized argument.

Here to the 'facts`:

- A thousand European artists don't do naturalistic style. To my knowledge I am the only big name who does it. If my omnipresence lead you to believe that a thousand Europeans do it I thank you for the compliment. European big names all do Modern Bonsai Style which now is gradually becoming popular in America. Modern Bonsai Style is mainly a Japanese style.

- Naturalistic artists do not 'sell' their direction, they just do it. They often have to defend themselves for uncalled attacks by fundamentalists, which you then mistake for 'selling'.

- Naturalistic styling requires endless wiring again and again until the hand of man totally disappears. Someone who does not like wiring should not do this style. Well he probably should do Ikebana anyway.  Very Happy

- Japanese artists were not 'allowed' to wire until before the big war, which is  only 80 years ago. They started to groom their trees more and more in the sixties. So this 'true perfection ' started only fifty years ago.

There seems to be some dislike of Europeans in general. Well, we have many lunatics who dislike Americans in general. So it is OK to pay them back. Very Happy
The only thing in the quote that is fully acceptable is the total dislike of naturalistic style in bonsai. This is fine. Bonsai is an art form and art is about taste. Arthur wrote, however, how his taste has changed considerably. So be aware!
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Post  Sam Ogranaja on Mon Aug 31, 2015 3:44 pm

Walter Pall wrote:
JimLewis wrote:
a quote from the post:
"To whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt from David’s comment: “To be fair and honest I don’t believe in “extremely” naturalistic views from artists like Walter Pall, Dan Robinson and a thousand European artists who “sell” this naturalistic approach to Bonsai. In the end they just look like they love the art but they can’t be real bored of wiring again and again and styling their trees for 20 years in a row searching for true perfection like TRUE Japanese Artists have done for more then a 1000 years.” "


Now this I call a great quote. It seems to have become acceptable for some journalists to just invent facts to support their statements. I wonder whether it is already acceptable to do so in a civilized argument.

Here to the 'facts`:

- A thousand European artists don't do naturalistic style. To my knowledge I am the only big name who does it. If my omnipresence lead you to believe that a thousand Europeans do it I thank you for the compliment. European big names all do Modern Bonsai Style which now is gradually becoming popular in America. Modern Bonsai Style is mainly a Japanese style.

- Naturalistic artists do not 'sell' their direction, they just do it. They often have to defend themselves for uncalled attacks by fundamentalists, which you then mistake for 'selling'.

- Naturalistic styling requires endless wiring again and again until the hand of man totally disappears. Someone who does not like wiring should not do this style. Well he probably should do Ikebana anyway.  Very Happy

- Japanese artists were not 'allowed' to wire until before the big war, which is  only 80 years ago. They started to groom their trees more and more in the sixties. So this 'true perfection ' started only fifty years ago.

There seems to be some dislike of Europeans in general. Well, we have many lunatics who dislike Americans in general. So it is OK to pay them back.  Very Happy
The only thing in the quote that is fully acceptable is the total dislike of naturalistic style in bonsai. This is fine. Bonsai is an art form and art is about taste. Arthur wrote, however, how his taste has changed considerably. So be aware!

Now this is what I call a response. Great job Walter!

I've been following this thread since it's inception. My only 2 cents is that the dislike that Walter mentions towards Americans or Europeans, I fear is the human condition which without a massive global shift will never change. I'm Albanian and I think David's immature thought process must have gone something like this: "I prefer the Japanese style. The naturalistic style proponents are wrong. I'm right". The reason it's immature is because I'm trying to do a Naturalistic African style Acacia in a Brazilian Raintree. I was told to leave it alone and simply clip it to shape. The end result is that it looked like an immature flying saucer. I came to the conclusion that the only way to go towards a truly believable African form is with a LOT of wiring and even more time. I can have a flying saucer on my BRT in about 1 year because it grows so fast. I now think it'll take me at least 5 years to simply put down the framework on which to build the ramifications.

Look, there are many super fine bonsai in the world. They were all made with the deliberate hand of man. Grow some respect for these growers regardless of whether you agree with their end result.

Have a great week!
Sam
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Post  Guest on Mon Aug 31, 2015 4:41 pm

beer city snake wrote:mikey - it should go without saying that the "sieg heil" was simply aimed at those who think their way is the only way and that everyone else should line up and drink the kool-aid....

So, your usage excuses you? Still seems to be in bad taste. There's a time and place for histrionic buffoonery. I'm suggesting
this ain't it.

Walter Pall wrote:Now this I call a great quote. It seems to have become acceptable for some journalists to just invent facts to support their statements. I wonder whether it is already acceptable to do so in a civilized argument.

It is a great post to deconstruct I agree. It's full of flaws. I'd just like to point out it was deliberately chosen by the publisher to sell books. Create a false dichotomy / chose the most provocative 'anti' post / sell pulp. It's an old devise. The problem is it's from someone that's not here. Not in this thread.

As stated: I'm not really interested in debating from either side of this manufactured duality. I'm not waiting for a clear and concise definition of naturalistic bonsai so I can pick it apart. I'd just really like to read something like that because I may just learn something.

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Post  AlainK on Mon Aug 31, 2015 5:41 pm

Sam Ogranaja wrote:
Look, there are many super fine bonsai in the world. They were all made with the deliberate hand of man. Grow some respect for these growers regardless of whether you agree with their end result.

Wise words...
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Post  Guest on Mon Aug 31, 2015 5:55 pm

Mr. Pall,
Since you are here, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind commenting on one of your trees. You are listed as the “initial creator” but I’m wondering how much it has changed since it left your care. Is it close to your original vision or do you think it’s drifted a bit towards overly refined?

American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum - Page 21 Juniper

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Post  Walter Pall on Mon Aug 31, 2015 6:11 pm

This RMJ is very close to my original vision. If this were in my garden, it could very well took much like it does. This is definitively not over-refined in my eyes. This is still transparent in the crown and has not this enormous leaf-mass that very old junipers get if nobody takes all that superfluous stuff off.

I do not think the customary cloud like foliage pads would look good on this tree. They often remind me of cabbage or even broccoli. Fortunately RMJ has no tendency to create these as Chinese  junipers have. We will see how this tree develops.

In the beginning we are very happy if foliage increases. There comes the point where there is too much of it. Since this takes so long one gets used to it and does not see that it is too heavy.

I only write this here because you have asked my personal opinion. I in no way want to criticize or comment on Ryan Neil's work. This is his tree and artists usually shut up about each others work.

This is not naturalistic styling, btw, this I call Modern Bonsai Style.


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Post  Guest on Mon Aug 31, 2015 6:22 pm

Thank you very much. It is glorious. You make a great point regarding foliage when it becomes "too much". Myself, working with collected tress, I developed an obsession with back budding. Must bud back, must bud back, became the mantra. Only recently have I come to realize this can be taken too far. Sometimes it's enough already.

Again, thank you very much. It's appreciated!

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Post  AlainK on Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:27 pm

So what?

As long as people respect the tree, that is don't want to grow Premna in Groeland because they admire Robert Steven, or artificially make trees that have angular shapes into a bunch of round-twisted spaghetti, where's the problem?

What I really don't like is that Arthur's thread ("American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum") is being used to express what we call here in France "philosophie de comptoir" (Bar-counter philosophy, or sthg). This is not critiquing what Arthur does, it's become a way of bashing people you don't agree with: me bad-tempered guy can do that, but in another place, or thread.

I like what Arthur does, and when I don't, I'll say it, the rest is just dust blown in the wind.
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Post  MichaelS on Tue Sep 01, 2015 4:31 am

That's a tad harsh, and and a bit of a My-Way-Or-The-Highway approach to bonsai.  Methinks.

Not at all. Not meant to come across that way. I'm simply stating that words are all well and good but words are also very cheap. My approach has always been - talk all you want, write a book, do a lecture series but allow me to judge (in my own mind) by looking at your trees. I will tell you what I think if you're interested. If you're not, no problem. People should definitly NOT be afraid of criticism. ''Shuting up'' about other artists' work - as Walter says, is stifling, counter-productive, and does nothing to further the art. By the way, I don't think Walter actually does that and neither should he. We don't have to agree but getting someone else point of view only helps. I don't want people to tell me what is right about my trees, I want them to tell me what THEY THINK is wrong. That is the real value.


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Post  geo on Tue Sep 01, 2015 5:06 am

I have read the entire thread. Obviously time consuming and unsettling at times. Howerver, after all the back and forth, I have to state unequivocally that I love that Acer by Bill Valavanis. Anyone who cannot see the tremendous skill required to partner with that tree to bring it to its current masterly state: well....
Just had to say it. After this 34 page wall of text, my little post won't even be noticed. Don't care. Some people deserve a hell of a lot more respect than they are getting!
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Post  MichaelS on Tue Sep 01, 2015 6:05 am

[quote="beer city snake"]
michael - regression vs progression = another skewed statement.

By skewed I assume you mean biased? Sure I'll admit that (remember these are MY thoughts, not an act of parliament)

why is "rough enough is good enough" in quotation marks ?
are you quoting a proponent of the naturalistic style ???
probably not...

It is a phrase we often use in Oz. Eg: If someone builds something in the workshop and doesn't worry too much about keeping in square, he might say rough enough is good enough. This is how I see many of the ''naturalistic'' trees. The reason may be intentional but in my experience it is usually laziness or incompetence. Don't get me wrong!! It is fine if someone wants to be lazy or is not interested. But please don't then expect me see their view pont as having much gravity. The world is so full of bullshit artists and there's more and more every day. Of course I'm probably one of them Laughing

and the picasso comparison seems... perhaps invalid... ?
did jackson pollock first master traditional fine painting ???
probably not (though i could be wrong)
is he considered a genius ?
by many yes (though i am not so arrogant that i can not admit that i dont 'get it')

Picasso, with a few brush strokes could capture the face of a hysterically crying woman.
Jackson Pollock swung a can of paint from a stick over the canvas.. You be the judge.


as a novice it is my understanding, and has been proven true, that bonsai is an on-going, even life-time commitment of constant learning...  and so developing one epic tree can take many many many years...

Very true! And who knows (I suspect but that remains to be seen) many of the trees now claimed to be the naturalistic style will over those many many years come to look more like the refined Japanese trees we all? admire as they are refined and the visually intrusive aspects are removed from them.

why should someone spend all those precious years developing a tree in a style that does not appeal to them on a personal level ?

They should not

BUT, should they learn about what came before from, first the chinese, and then the japanese masters ?
absolutely... everything 'new' is built upon what came before.

Also very true. But you cannot build on someone elses work without understanding it first. And to understand it, you have to do it not just look at it.
Let me put it another way, how do I know that someone who produces the kind of work that we are talking about does it because that is all he is capable of? You know, it's really really difficult to create a fine bonsai such as the one below. (or at least it cannot be rushed)

American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum - Page 21 Image
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Years of dedication and planing right from the start. Many people (in fact ALL the ones I know) are either too lazy, lack vision, or just don't know where to start to ever dream of creating such a work - or even starting it!
I might say to them ''you need to cut off this branch and start again'' and they will look at me as if I just told them to cut off their arm  Shocked . In other words, rough enough is good enough..... Ok then fine...If that makes you happy. It does not make me happy.
Someone else will say to me ''I don't have the patience to grow from the start, I would rather dig up something and have a thick trunk today'' When I look at the tree though, I see the branches are really just an after thought.
The biggest mistake I see people make (in my eyes that is,...and I'm talking about deciduous trees only - conifers are completely different) is that they think if they have a branch that is say 10 or 15cm long, well they just have put some wire on it and that's done!....next..
No!!! bonsai braches like in the tree above are built 2 to 3cm at a time. MAX! The rest is cut off. That is the only way to achieve the beautiful subtle movenent and the visual feast. The naturalists just don't do that. I'm NOT talking about the ramification - that always comes. I'm talking about the foundation.
Get my point?
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Post  Kevin S - Wisco Bonsai on Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:52 pm

mike - you were MUCH clearer about stating that these are simply YOUR views than you were in your post that i replied to...

couple minor points...

judging picasso vs pollock ?
none of us should be the judge for anyone other than ourselves
(but still you knock pollock's 'technique' to prop up picasso... and i am most definitely NOT saying i dig what pollock does)

and you agreed that someone should not spend the precious years it takes to create a tree in a style that does not appeal to them, but in the next paragraph you say: "But you cannot build on someone elses work without understanding it first. And to understand it, you have to do it not just look at it." ... well, in something like bonsai, there goes those precious years creating something that doesn't appeal to you...

re: "rough enough is good enough", i have been lucky enough to live in OZ for 3 months back in the late 80's and that does sound like something that would be said...  Wink  as an aside, i loved the OZ-isms i picked up down there... garbos, posties, icy poles, etc with my favorites being:
TINNIES, STUBBIES & SLABS !!!  Razz  drunken  FAIR DINKUM ! (i know, i know - "enough already you silly yank"  geek )

i dont want to sound like a broken record playing the simpleton song, but we can agree to disagree without being like all the politicos and pundits who feel the need to knock down the other side in order to prop up our side... we can talk about what does not appeal to us in ways that do not condemn what does not appeal to us...

after all, like you said:
"how do I know that someone who produces the kind of work that we are talking about does it because that is all he is capable of?"
it sounds like you don't, so unless we do know one way or the other, we shouldn't assume...

unless of course you are looking at something like my work so far... then it will be fairly easy to say:
"he is a novice, but it looks like he is really trying and in doing so, he is doing the best that he can at this stage..."

sorry if all that sounds too reasonable (which i admit is not always my strong suit Wink  )

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Post  augustine on Tue Sep 01, 2015 3:24 pm

Attacks, insults and unreasonableness tend to drive away the experts and good folks that post on the forums. Darn shame.

I'll only say that I greatly appreciate Arthur's interest, thoughts, anecdotes, knowledge and writing style and hope that he continues this thread. I also thank folks like Bill Valavanis, Walter Pall and other knowledgable folks for their input.

Arthur, please bring it on. I for one am interested in all bonsai styles and approaches.

IMO Dan Robinson's is intrigued by "ancientness" and the struggle of nature. This is my assessment only and this is art. I am the viewer and the art evokes a response in me, it's the same in music, painting, sculpture, etc. Dan's trees stop me in my tracks.

Walter Pall makes an important point that the naturalistic style is not a lazy person's approach. You can find more by Walter on this topic by searching this and other forums as well as his website. Always good reading.

Kimura sometimes creates beautiful foliage masses on wicked old trunks full of deadwood. I am not distracted by the fact that a healthy and full foliage mass may not be found on a tortured juniper in the mountains. I am in awe of the beauty of his results and level of skill.

Others may disagree - it's OK it's just an opinion, but as good as anyone else's.

Arthur - thanks very much for freely sharing your thoughts and knowledge.


Regards,

Augustine

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Post  Auballagh on Wed Sep 02, 2015 1:34 am

Ahhh well...  Once again, another dive into this Mosh Pit?  Shocked
I guess there is another point I can make, regarding naturalistic bonsai.

Jerry Meislik wrote:The best example of this are the wonderful wild trees that I have collected over the years. They have a special character provided by the years exposed to elements which shaped their design in unpredictable ways. After some years, I noticed, that many of my collected tress were less exciting than when they were collected. Each year I would remove or refine some "problem" area. After a few years I had ruined the tree but made it more perfectly adherent to the bonsai rules. There is a fine line between perfection and cutting the soul or spirit out of a tree. I failed in keeping the spirit and character of the tree alive.

Wow, maybe the experience is speaking here from Mr. Meislik in ways that are stronger than my own humble abilities can describe?

This is quoted from a wonderful article Jerry Meislik penned titled, 'TEN GREATEST BONSAI FALLACIES'

Located here,  http://www.bonsaihunk.us/Fallacies.html

How else can you possibly state the potentially deleterious effects of slavishly applying rigid development rules and guidelines to trees you obtained originally as pre-bonsai material?  Those trees you collected or possibly bought, mostly because they had those interesting (natural?) qualities that interested you in getting them in the first place?
Perfectly refined and developed bonsai do not possess these character traits.  We are taught those kinds of things are more properly called 'flaws' for that type of impeccably styled and refined bonsai.  

Could Naturalistic Styling possibly be, knowing when to emphasize - EMPHASIZE - character traits in tree material for development into bonsai, and accepting (embracing?) the fact that those very same character traits in that tree may be considered horrific flaws in other, so-called 'perfect' bonsai?  And better yet, making it look like in the end that, YOU NEVER TOUCHED THE TREE?
Oh, that's very hard to do.  To do well?
An almost impossible feat for most of us.

But, give us time and be patient.  
We're learning here. Smile
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Post  drbuzzbee on Wed Sep 02, 2015 2:20 am

I was able to visit another man's bonsai trees today. I was asked by one of my companions what I thought of the man's trees. The trees were styled differently from the way mine are. They looked different from my trees. I thought of this thread I have been following with interest. So my response to the question was tempered by what I have been reading. I thought to myself- this man enjoys his trees as well as I enjoy mine, so my response to the question was "I think they are great-I enjoyed getting to see someone's garden."

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Post  MichaelS on Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:07 am

[quote="beer city snake"]


none of us should be the judge for anyone other than ourselves

Kevin,  I must disagree on this point. One of the definitions of judge is ''give an opinion about''
So by your law, all the art critics in the world, all the bonsai instructors and everyone on this forum is wrong. Simply saying you like a tree is a judgement. Or saying that this part needs should be cut out is a judgement.
Or are you saying that all comments should be positive? If so how is a beginner to ever learn anything?

and you agreed that someone should not spend the precious years it takes to create a tree in a style that does not appeal to them, but in the next paragraph you say: "But you cannot build on someone elses work without understanding it first. And to understand it, you have to do it not just look at it." ... well, in something like bonsai, there goes those precious years creating something that doesn't appeal to you...


I think you missed my point. You can do or think whatever you want but you cannot say that it's better than another way unless you have proved that you have the capacity to do it and made a decision to turn your back on it. So by all means go whatever way you want. Spend the rest of your life doing it, and reject all other ways. I PERSONALLY believe that the so called ''naturalistic style'' is easier and quicker to achieve than the traditional slow way and the end result leaves me unsatisfied for the following reasons: (and this is very general because every tree is different)  1. Ironically the branches often appear unnatural. 2. The branches often have severe and bizzar movements which capture the eye and distract from the whole. 3. There is often no elegance in the tree. (usually because of straight lines, bowed branches, reverse taper, and or lack of balance. Lack of elegance may be a GOOD thing for some. It's a BAD thing for me. 3. They often have the appearence that the creator has a particular idea in his head but has failed to convey that idea so he draws attention to himself rather than the tree. 4. The trees often do not appear as large or ''aboreal'' (as mikeyeye mantioned) when compared to the better Japanese examples.
These are the things I seek to avoid. I'm sure that there are some examples I would truly love to look at and own.

The ''naturalistic'' idea is not new..
Let me quote from a beginners book printed decades ago, translated from Japanese:
''Since all bonsai growers value nature, the best plants to choose are those that will betray a minimum of artificiailty. It may therefore be preferable to enhance some of the trees' natural 'imperfections' than to force it into a more 'symmetrical' yet unnatural shape''.

Nothing new here! It seems that even some of the Japanese have forgotten about that important point! The problem as I see it is that many naturalistic proponents have taken this idea to the extreme and are creating works which are substandard IMO. Leaving too many ''imperfections'' for whatever reason....

re: "rough enough is good enough", i have been lucky enough to live in OZ for 3 months back in the late 80's and that does sound like something that would be said...  Wink  as an aside, i loved the OZ-isms i picked up down there... garbos, posties, icy poles, etc with my favorites being:
TINNIES, STUBBIES & SLABS !!!  Razz  drunken  FAIR DINKUM ! (i know, i know - "enough already you silly yank"  geek )

I'm glad you enjoyed Oz. Let me guess, you were to Queensland?


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Post  MichaelS on Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:23 am

[quote="Auballagh"]
Ahhh well...  Once again, another dive into this Mosh Pit?  Shocked
I guess there is another point I can make, regarding naturalistic bonsai.

Jerry Meislik wrote:The best example of this are the wonderful wild trees that I have collected over the years. They have a special character provided by the years exposed to elements which shaped their design in unpredictable ways. After some years, I noticed, that many of my collected tress were less exciting than when they were collected. Each year I would remove or refine some "problem" area. After a few years I had ruined the tree but made it more perfectly adherent to the bonsai rules. There is a fine line between perfection and cutting the soul or spirit out of a tree. I failed in keeping the spirit and character of the tree alive.

Wow, maybe the experience is speaking here from Mr. Meislik in ways that are stronger than my own humble abilities can describe?

This is quoted from a wonderful article Jerry Meislik penned titled, 'TEN GREATEST BONSAI FALLACIES'

Located here,  http://www.bonsaihunk.us/Fallacies.html

How else can you possibly state the potentially deleterious effects of slavishly applying rigid development rules and guidelines to trees you obtained originally as pre-bonsai material?  Those trees you collected or possibly bought, mostly because they had those interesting (natural?) qualities that interested you in getting them in the first place?
Perfectly refined and developed bonsai do not possess these character traits.  We are taught those kinds of things are more properly called 'flaws' for that type of impeccably styled and refined bonsai.  

Could Naturalistic Styling possibly be, knowing when to emphasize - EMPHASIZE - character traits in tree material for development into bonsai, and accepting (embracing?) the fact that those very same character traits in that tree may be considered horrific flaws in other, so-called 'perfect' bonsai?  And better yet, making it look like in the end that, YOU NEVER TOUCHED THE TREE?
Oh, that's very hard to do.  To do well?
An almost impossible feat for most of us.

But, give us time and be patient.  
We're learning here. :

No argument from me! But who is doing that?
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Post  Kevin S - Wisco Bonsai on Wed Sep 02, 2015 1:18 pm

michael... i believe we may be both missing each others point... but thats OK Wink

however, you said: "You can do or think whatever you want but you cannot say that it's better than another way unless you have proved that you have the capacity to do it and made a decision to turn your back on it."

i apologize, but i could not disagree more... and i will just leave it at that (per what follows below)

i do agree though that criticism can be good when it is constructive and i do not believe that there should be no conflict in opinions...
in your reply you were very clear about what appeals to you and what doesnt and why... and i for one find your opinion valid and i respect it, along with other views presented in a non-confrontational manner.

conflicting opinions are important and are useful only when respect is given to both sides of the position... otherwise folks naturally jump into defense mode because their way of thinking is being attacked and then things become counterproductive.



i started this when i was 50, coming into it with a creative background... i will never be a master, not without quitting my day job, along with all other casual pursuits... i just dont have the years left in this life... so when thinking about the way this thread has gone, i think it is pretty damn funny how some (myself included) who will never be "masters"  have no trouble expounding about what does or doesnt constitute a master... such hubris !!! (and i am pointing fingers at nobody !!!)
but the more i think about that, the funnier it really is...
Razz  geek  jocolor ...........  pale  Embarassed

and the more i realize that i have no place in this discussion beyond encouraging respect for both sides...

btw - i too have no argument with Auballagh's reply... no argument and no disclaimer.

btw btw - never made it up to q-land... landed in sydney and made our way to points south along the coast...
absolutely beautiful... and dangerous country... being young, dumb and full pee and vinegar, i ended up with your 2 deadliest creatures either in my hand (the red-back) or in my face (the blue ring octopus)...
affraid Embarassed affraid
god does protect idiots

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American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum - Page 21 Empty Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Walter Pall on Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:26 pm

Dear Arthur,

Arthur Joura wrote:It was good to see you stop by here the other day during the discussion that took place following my article about Dan Robinson. The tone of the conversation must have seemed familiar to you: false accusations, aspersions, impassioned defense of things not actually under attack, over-the-top responses to ideas apparently not actually understood.
Oh yes, I remember so well and don't feel like I am longing for it again. Guess why I am absent from bonsai forums by and large.

  These days, however, I tend to think the implications of what you were saying also truly disturbed people, and the fact that they perceived you as personally irritating just made it easier to reject both you and your wrongheaded ideas as one disagreeable package.

I have come to the same conclusion. I think it is that thy were under the impression that I pulled the rug out underneath their feet and they felt that what I wrote was much more dangerous than anything else on the net. They must have felt that I write this to devastate them and the bonsai world. Well, I did not write it for personal reasons but it had some devastating impact. Now, twenty to fifteen years later many things that I wrote are now accepted and some have become almost mainstream. The old fundamentalists have disappeared one by one, some for natural reasons m, many because they suddenly felt not to be the majority anymore. Some may have come to the conclusion that they were wrong in their judgment. Anyway, they almost disappeared and I don't miss them much.

Arthur Joura wrote:Those days of raucous on-line debate are mostly all gone now. There seems to be little life left in the Internet forum format, with much of the conversation shifting to Facebook or individual blogs where it becomes more controlled and exclusive, and I think this is unfortunate. The freewheeling dialogue of the public forum, sloppy and low as it oftentimes gets, is such a democratic thing.
The good thing about blogs and facebook is that one can directly control the feedback. This is not democratic but very effective. Democracy on public forums? Well if it means that any fool can say anything any time and this is democracy, then it is so. Democracy means that we are all the same. Meaning that WP says something that he has thought about for thirty years. and then someone who has thought about if for thirty seconds answers and we are even. Is that what it means?
 
I think you personally must have gotten a little weary of trying to reason with the on-line bonsai community, or maybe you became bored with answering the same old arguments over and over. For whatever reason you are no longer the vibrant presence on the Internet you once were. You have your excellent web site, of course (http://walter-pall-bonsai.blogspot.com/), and there readers will find many of your techniques, thoughts and ideas carefully written out and lavishly illustrated. But the living breathing on-line now Walter Pall, the one who saunters out into the great electronic forum of public discourse and in a way both challenging and nonchalant cheerfully offers the world a bite of his sacred cow sandwich, that guy is rarely heard from any more.
Well, after all these years is is very hard to come up with some argument that I have not heard a hundred times before and have answered a hundred times. The Internet is full of folks who are perfectly able to write long messages but somehow they cannot read, it seems. And then there is the thing with personal attacks that you mentioned. When they run out of arguments and have nothing to say anymore about the matter they beat the person. Problem is the asymmetry of insults. What is this? Well, in Germany I can say that Angela Merkel is a silly bitch - and nothing will happen. If Angela Merkel says that Walter Pall is an arrogant a..hole the world will cry out loud. Not that I would to compare myself with Angela Merkl, but somehow I have become a public figure and it is OK to insult public figures. Some hate folks who are above them. So they hate me. I am an easy target. Why in the world should I offer myself voluntarily as a target?

Arthur Joura wrote:You have written extensively about this in the past, and those who are interested enough can and should read all about it here: http://walterpallbonsaiarticles.blogspot.com/2010/09/naturalistic-bonsai-style-english.html There is no point in having you reiterate what you have already written, but I have a couple of questions I would ask you expanding on your existing statements. First, I wonder if you have distilled your thoughts to the point yet where you can give a more concise definition of naturalistic bonsai? Your published article about it is a definitive answer but it takes a few thousand words to make its case. What is the most simple and refined answer you can give to a bonsai person who asks you to define naturalistic bonsai?

Naturalistic bonsai vs. what generally is known as bonsai is like the difference between realistic and abstract painting. Naturalists try to create something that looks like a genuine tree. General bonsaiists try to create something that looks like a bonsai. And they are not aware oif it.

Arthur Joura wrote: Also, I am interested to know how you came to the point where you decided the naturalistic style was appealing to your tastes. There are 3 professionals I most admire for their ability to do outstanding bonsai work in a naturalistic vein: Dan Robinson, Qingquan Zhao from China, and you. My impression is that Dan could not do bonsai any other way than the way he does - he is following an individualistic impulse and no other way would make sense or be of interest to him. Mr. Zhao's most famous work is grounded in a traditional school of Penjing design - Water and Land - that is realistic in its conception. His work is naturalistic, but he was trained in that style to begin with. You, I know from reading your biographical information, began in bonsai the same way as most Westerners, which is to say you were copying the design concepts promoted by the Japanese artists and teachers. Somewhere along the way you consciously decided to break with that and pursue other ideas. How did you come to that decision and why were you attracted to Naturalism?

Starting around 1979 up until the late 1980ies I tried to learn as much as I could about bonsai and tried to make something that looked like a `good' bonsai. What a good bonsai was I learned from books, mainly from John Naka I and II, but also from the books of Peter Adams. Often I did not succeed in creating what I was aiming at. This was mainly because of my lack of skills but also, what I was not aware of, the nature of my material. I was one of the very first guys in Europe to go to the mountains and forests and collect stuff. Then I tried to tame it. Often these shrubs just did not lend themselves to a 'good' bonsai design. But somehow they still intrigued me. By the end of the 1980ies I started to look for more than I could find in books. In 1987 at the BFF Convention in Birmingham, UK I met Dan Robinson and had a long discussion with him. He was the first one to open my eyes about there being something else than the rules. Then there was the famous saying of John Naka along the lines 'don't try to make your tree look like a bonsai, rather make your bonsai look like a tree'. This really meant a lot to me. I was puzzled, however to not find too much of this in John Naka's work.

So I went on for a few years doing what I 'knew' was the 'right' way to do bonsai. But I was not so sure many times. I started wondering why in the world I was sitting in my garden, creating a bonsai and when looking up I saw trees which did not at all look like this bonsai. Why in the world was I not allowed to copy these large trees? Well, it was made very clear to me by the bonsai establishment that it was blasphemy to only think about it.

Around 1994  I had become in touch with articles about the work of Kimura. They intrigued me after a period of repulsion. I met Salvatore Liporace, who was assistant of Kimura for a while and he influenced me in working like the master. This, I felt  immediately, was VERY different from what up to that time was considered proper, meaning 'classical' bonsai. By the mid-1990ies I was one of the first ones in my area who made what I now call modern bonsai. I started to frown upon what the world around me still was doing, feeling that it became more old fashioned every day. It is called 'neoclassical bonsai' or 'western classical bonsai'. Many do it still today and still think it is the 'right' way to do. I now had two kinds of trees in my collection: the old-fashioned neoclassical ones which I had created up to then, and then the modern ones. At that time I collected a lot, a hundred trees in a year was normal. I found that it was not so easy to find the 'right' way to treat this material. Sometimes they lent themselves to a more classical style, sometimes they were just right for the quite different modern style. And sometimes I did not know how to treat them. I really liked some features, but they were 'wrong'. More and more I worked on these trees in a way to try to forget what I knew about bonsai and create some realistic tree. I leaned to enhance the features that I liked instead of idealizing trees more and more and getting rid of the natural features. Anyway, I had found my style. But it was not comfortable in the bonsai scene. People who saw my new creations frowned upon them and voiced their dislike clearly, as is the custom on Europe. I learned to just go on and try to ignore the opinions of the bonsai scene. I liked what I did and I become something of a bonsai-hermit because (believe it or not) I hate to argue with people. I hate to try to convince them of what I am doing if they don't find out themselves.

My trees got better, the old ones and the new ones. I was accused of bad work when I showed my new creations and I was admired when I showed what I thought was old-fashioned. Modern bonsai by the late 1990ies had become sort of mainstream in Europe and I was in the middle of it with some creations. But I somehow did not feel so attracted to this anymore as I used to be. My coming out on the Internet made a big change in the world wide exposure. I was admired an accused at the same time. I learned to defend myself. While I thought and still think that the Internet can be a terrible place to be it really has made me famous. And it has tremendously sharpened my arguments. I know that they were just waiting out there for me to make a wrong move and fall all over me like hyenas. All my opponents from that time, as much as I haded them often, have helped me to became better in my work and better in arguing about it.

In the beginning, being so much on the defensive side I was fighting for the acceptance of naturalism in bonsai. But in my actual work I found that often I did something that would  be classified classical, neo-classical, modern, Penjing, naturalistic, fairy-style or what have you. I found that  I had learned to see a piece of material and make whatever this piece was crying for to be regardless of what the style is called. Now I think one can very well do all styles in parallel and still be an integer artist. It is  not like religion. You don 't have to make a principal choice. You can do everything in parallel.

Recently I found that many of my newest creations somehow fall out of any norm that I had known. While some hated them a lot some loved them a lot as I do. I call these Fairy Tale Bonsai . When I wrote articles on the net about this two years ago I 'knew' that they would tear me to pieces and crucify me again. But they did not. Something has changed. i am still not sure what it is, but I have the feeling that the bonsai scene has learned to be tolerant, to accept the creations of others even if they are not in your own taste.

I lead a workshop recently and as usual did a lot of talking and explaining and philosophizing. A young man said 'Mr. Pall, why are you so defensive, why are you so much defending mainstream bonsai?'. I realized that he was under the impression that Naturalistic Bonsai Style had become mainstream. Bless him!
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American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum - Page 21 Empty Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Precarious on Wed Sep 02, 2015 11:57 pm

Walter Pall wrote:I found that  I had learned to see a piece of material and make whatever this piece was crying for to be regardless of what the style is called.

Maybe it is easy to conclude b/c I am a novice and have not been pulled into too many rules, but Mr. Paul's comment seems to be the essence of maturity in art.  It describes a very unique connection between the artist and subject and therefore cannot be too well judged 'right' or 'wrong' by others.


Last edited by Precarious on Wed Sep 02, 2015 11:59 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : correction)
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American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum - Page 21 Empty Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Thu Sep 03, 2015 2:36 am

[quote="beer city snake"]
i apologize, but i could not disagree more... and i will just leave it at that (per what follows below
)

It's becoming quite obvious that this discussion is headed nowhere so not really much more to say other than if anyone wants discuss these concepts in a detailed way (tree by tree) rather than a dissmisive, general or historical way, I would be happy as I still feel as if some ideas (on both sides) have failed to penetrate. But personalities being what they are it is probably impossible without people taking offence. A pity.
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American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum - Page 21 Empty Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  AlainK on Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:54 pm

Bonsoir tout le monde, Hi everyone,

MichaelS wrote:
It's becoming quite obvious that this discussion is headed nowhere

That leaves me speechless! Shocked

Laughing

A suggestion: maybe the moderators could split this discussion between what's really ""American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum", and open another thread with the header they think is the most appropriate like "My taste is good taste", or "Are masters the masters of crookery?", or anything you like that would allow people to fuel the flames.

If you do so, maybe I can add my own biased, or maybe highly philosophical, or perhaps totally egotistic, narcissic comments: those who know me know I can!  Cool

As I wrote before, I think this is not correct to "pollute" Arthur's thread, especially since he is representing a whole organisation that has never taken any part in this discussion. This is not fair at all, and I don't want him to pull away from a place where he adds a lot of things, technically, aesthetically, and culturally because as a European, I'm very interested in his Usonian approach, and he does a great job. And I think he has more important things to do than reading and replying our rantings.

Anyway... Rolling Eyes

Fortunately, I live in a country where there is a strong regulation on weapons...  Neutral  (*)
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American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum - Page 21 Empty Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  coh on Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:21 pm

Geez, what is wrong with some of you? This is a PUBLIC DISCUSSION FORUM. You post here, you do so knowing that people are going to post responses that may be contrary to your viewpoint. Otherwise, stick to blogging where you can completely control the message, including who can respond.

That said, I would be in favor of splitting this part of the discussion into a separate thread, if Arthur wanted to do it.

This will probably get removed by the moderators, but it finally reached the point where I had to respond.
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Post  Kevin S - Wisco Bonsai on Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:42 pm

i wouldnt be surprised if arthur gets a kick out of some of this Wink

the man does have a helluva sense of humor.

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American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum - Page 21 Empty Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  AlainK on Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:51 pm

Hi Coh,

coh wrote:
This will probably get removed by the moderators

No, I don't think it could, because you never insulted anyone, you never fueled hatred towards another person, or group of people.

You want to continue, or that anyone should be allowed to continue the discussion, without throwing mud at each others'? I fully agree. ThumbsUp

You think that this discussion shouldn't steal the original thread? I'm totally with you thumbs up

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