American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Vance Wood on Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:41 pm

coh wrote:Nice video, thanks for sharing. Good to see the development on that bald cypress, it has some great character in the trunk.

Boy, do I want to turn that hinoki into a classic raft! Think it would look great that way.

Chris

I agree, a great video and a great candidate for a raft.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Wilson L on Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:53 pm


John I always enjoy the videos you share! Between the two of you, you provide a great balance of knowledge, and interest in the trees you present.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  jgeanangel on Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:19 pm

I should probably let Arthur speak to his tree but the distance between the roots and what would be the first trunk in the raft is why He/we questions its potential in the traditional fashion...there would be a lot of empty pot on one side.

Thanks for the kudos on the video...it is always enjoyable and a valuable learning experience when you get the opportunity to spend some time with Arthur!

I don't suppose anyone has watched ALL of the video yet or I suspect there would be some comments:)

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Wilson L on Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:28 pm


It is exactly the little snippets at the end that seem to add good humour to informative videos! I have learned some great stuff from your youtube channel. You have quite an awesome collection of trees!

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  coh on Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:40 pm

Ha ha, got me! I had clicked off when the screen went blank, so I missed the fun at the end Very Happy

I can see the distance from the current root mass to the first branch being a problem for a standard raft style. Can one encourage rooting along the base by planting the whole thing, then eventually remove the current root mass? I've never created one of these "from scratch" so I don't know how well that might work.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Richard S on Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:46 pm

I've watched all of the video John Wink and I'm saying nothing..............apart from thanks for sharing.

Regards

Richard

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  DougB on Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:52 pm

Arthur you hit the nail squarely on the head. I have been in bonsai long enough to experience much of the American history you related in your last post. I is, from my vantage point, accurate and succinct. I marvel at today's world where an accurate retelling of history offends some and must be redone. Take the Confederate Flags and Statues in the South that a few are clamoring to be removed as an example. We should accept and understand history and then based on that history move on.

As an added note this writing will make an excellent first chapter in you book. When can I expect it to be published?

Stay warm my friend.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:29 am

john and arthur - LMFAO !!!

but also dug the update on the cypress...

aj - i'm not sure if this would work, but in regards to that looping root, would it possibly assist the graft if you were to pull the circle root to the right and then cut it so that when you let it go, it would butt up (with some pressure) against the root you hope to graft it to ? (after maybe scraping the root to match the cut end of the circle root)

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Walter Pall on Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:19 am

Dear Arthur,


Arthur Joura wrote:So tell me please, if you are up for it, how is all this different in Europe?

At present  the majority of the European bonsai scene sees bonsai as a Japanese art form. The general public very much so, just as in America. Only the strong tendency to worship Japanese education, rules and submission to Japanese culture in respect of bonsai is not very strong. It is helpful to claim to have studied in Japan or under a Japanese master in Europe, but it is not as decisive as in the USA. People much more will look at what the man (it's always a man) is producing than where he learned it from. Many big names did not have 'one master'. They have studied here and there and picked whatever they liked.

Here  a few numbers. I warn you, this is very rough and necessarily judgmental (if you want to hear my opinion you should not blame me for being opinionated) but probably an educated guess:
There are a few hundred 'artists' in bonsai in Europe, probably 500 or up to 1,000. Of these around one hundred were trained in Japanese schools in Europe. Only a handful were trained directly in Japan. There are about 50 big names in Europe. My guess is that only ten percent of them were trained directly in Japan. The overwhelming majority of these 50 big names never was in Japan.
In Europe the big thing is Noelanders Trophy, as everybody knows. This year, for the first time in something like 15 years there were Japaneses masters on stage. Up to that point all the judging, preparation etc. took place without ANY Japanese involvement. This is radically different from what did happen and is happening in the USA.

Looking at what kind of bonsai people are actually producing brings another surprise. The big shows which are leading the art contain almost 100 % trees in clearly Japanese style, mainly Modern Bonsai Style. More than 50 % of all trees shown are of Japanese origin. For Europeans it is quite easy to purchase Japanese specimen trees and import them. So they dominate the shows and win the awards. Being myself right in this scene since decades I feel that the big names by and large are not even aware of this. They often do not want to copy Japanese style. They think it is their European style. They think they are doing bonsai  'right' – and are not aware that this is only one way to do it. For them it is THE way. They think that they are at least as good as the rest of the world including Japan anyway.

The big names who go for the awards MUST do Japanese style in Europe. A rebel like me, while tolerated or even respected will not win an award and subsequently cannot earn a living. If you have to make a living with bonsai you better do what the market wants. And the market wants Japanese bonsai in Europe.

Very different is what the general bonsai person does and likes. They like to admire the trees in Modern Bonsai Style at the shows and on the net. But the majority of them does Neoclassical Style Bonsai (this is what Naka and Yoshimura taught – in essence state of the art of 1960) – very much like in the USA.

However, compared to America I see a much stronger will to do your own thing, to find your own style. Young people in general are much more ready to forget about the cultural and historical burdens and do bonsai in a new way. Even when they are directly or indirectly trained Japanese they often have the desire to be different, is my feeling.

I see a whole new generation of bonsai people growing up and questioning the status quo – as they should. They understand much better than the old guard that there are many more ways to do it. And these ways are just as 'right' as the classical one. There are more and more folks who understand that it is NOT like a religion. You do NOT have to make a decision. You can do classical one day, neoclassical the next day, modern and naturalistic on there days. You can invent a new way every day. And be happy and an integer artist.

I can see that in a few years the main shows will be very different with much more variety of ways to do bonsai. The neoclassical masters have disappeared fifteen years ago, The modern masters will disappear in ten years. The postmodern masters are still in the making. I foresee a much wider diversity.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  AlainK on Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:34 am

Walter Pall wrote:

At present (.......) I foresee a much wider diversity.

Yes! I couldn't agree more! cheers

I sometimes think that you're going too far, but what's in this post reflects exactly my own opinion. Cool

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Vance Wood on Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:30 pm

I too agree.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Walter Pall on Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:07 pm

Some may know that I copy this Arthur/Walter conversation on my blog. Here a comment by Christopher Schmuck:


Walter/Arthur-
I have enjoyed your conversation which has inspired me greatly. However, I thought I might share why bonsai is important to me. I begins with how we perceive ourselves in this modern world. Many see nature as a trip to the park or a vacation to the wilderness. In essence nature is all around us from the tiny ant crossing your kitchen table to the legendary redwoods of the Californian coast. Take a moment to stop and think about how you perceive nature. Do you see yourself as being part of it or do you view it from afar? If we look back to the early practitioners of bonsai, the Literati Scholars of ancient China. We can see their interpretation of nature demonstrated by painted landscapes on scrolls. More than 98% of the composition is represented by natural elements such as mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, and animals. Then if you look very closely the keen observer may spot a tiny hut tucked away in the corner or perhaps a stick figure of a man fishing in the river. The human element in these works tend to be very minimal. Why is that? We all alter our natural environments in one way or another and in doing so separate ourselves from our natural roots. With the rise of civilization comes buildings, pavement, technology, man-made structures and devices created to make our lives easier. Perhaps somewhere along the way we have removed ourselves from our original environment. We plant trees, shrubs, and flowers in parks, yards, and gardens in an effort to redevelop a place where tranquility and a peace-of-mind can be found. When we do so we strive to bridge the gap between humanity and nature. When we practice bonsai we just don’t create an identical version of nature in miniature. We highlight natural elements which are familiar to us to create an image. This image may convey a focused message of life, death, and/or survival. We bridge the gap for others so they may enjoy and understand that feeling. Many artists see their bonsai as natures ambassadors. Creatures which bridge the gap between man and the natural world. They also make us stop for a moment and view what we otherwise might overlook. Together the artist and tree convey their message in unity to the unsuspecting viewer. Other artist such as Frank Loyd Wright the famous architect studied cultures to seek out these elements which bring us closer to nature.


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:09 am

[quote="Walter Pall"]
Many artists see their bonsai as natures ambassadors.


It is interesting to read Christopher's message but I think that many bonsai artists also don't know a thing about nature and don't even realise that the two things are connected. Their inspiration comes only from other artists.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:34 pm

MichaelS wrote: ...I think that many bonsai artists also don't know a thing about nature and don't even realise that the two things are connected. Their inspiration comes only from other artists.

true... but maybe not their fault.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Vance Wood on Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:21 pm

After all of these years I view my bonsai as extensions of myself, every thing I have learned and everything I hold as beautiful.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Thu Feb 18, 2016 2:58 pm

Bonsai,

what I see around me. These days more and more diversity in nature.
Laters.
Khaimraj

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Vance Wood on Thu Feb 18, 2016 3:20 pm

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:Bonsai,

what I see around me. These days more and more diversity in nature.
Laters.
Khaimraj

I think, and of course there are those that question whether I am capable of doing the same, many of us, after spending years of looking at bonsai from a host of sources; Japan, Europe, China, Viet Nam, Indonesia and our own back yards, are at a loss of what it is we want to do. I have these visions in my mind of all of these wonderful trees, but have you noticed? Can you really pick out your favorite trees and describe what there is about these trees that strikes you and how these trees measure up to what is generally accepted as a good bonsai, and how, or how not?

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:19 pm

Vance,

it is a little different for me, I draw what I like, using a highly accurate technique called - Sight Size.
It is technique that trains the eye to see through angles, and not just what I feel like putting down on paper.

So when I do a study, it is supposed to be very accurate.

This allows the memory to be very strong, and I can re-draw from memory almost exactly what I saw.

I study mature examples of the same tree type, and choose what I like, or am impressed most by.

Later, I let my mind relax and draw what would be called an - idealised tree.

Most of my seeds / seedlings are guided by a drawing, which can be further altered by erasing and re-drawing.

I can admire other folks efforts, but I don't need to copy them, though I will have a memory, and it will
be influenced by having seen them.
However, since I use a sculptors technique, I need to see the tree in reality, to really know it.

Most Bonsai trees are not really sculpture, they do have aspects of sculptural technique, but nothing really
akin to say - Michaelangelo's Pieta.

I have often wondered if the Masters of Bonsai or Penjing even study any form of Art or is it rote?

But you see this is a hobby and after I saw how trees are just sold when one dies and another takes over, I stopped
bothering with any of those ideas / philosophies.
AND went back to my profession - Fine Art.
After all these centuries - a Raphael - is still a Raphael.

So now I just enjoy growing seeds and seedlings, since with my troughs I can get 3" trunks in a year or two or three.
I am just getting ready to show George [ Geo ] a happy situation with a tamarind going from 1/4 inch to almost 3"
[0.6 cm to 7.5 cm ] in a year [ actually about 9 months ]

I prefer to work at 15" to 18" [ 38 cm to 46 cm ] so I overshot and will probably end up at closer to 5" [ 13 cm ]
with the finished tree.

I really don't have a lot of interest in the politics of Bonsai - who is trying to make a name or sales.
Joined IBC to make a few friends, though the Internet and friendship is a dangerous practice.
Writing to someone is very different to talking to someone.
Stay Well.
Laters.
Khaimraj




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American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  geo on Thu Feb 18, 2016 6:27 pm

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:Vance,

it is a little different for me, I draw what I like, using a highly accurate technique called - Sight Size.
It is technique that trains the eye to see through angles, and not just what I feel like putting down on paper.

So when I do a study, it is supposed to be very accurate.

This allows the memory to be very strong, and I can re-draw from memory almost exactly what I saw.

I study mature examples of the same tree type, and choose what I like, or am impressed most by.

Later, I let my mind relax and draw what would be called an - idealised tree.

Most of my seeds / seedlings are guided by a drawing, which can be further altered by erasing and re-drawing.

I can admire other folks efforts, but I don't need to copy them, though I will have a memory, and it will
be influenced by having seen them.
However, since I use a sculptors technique, I need to see the tree in reality, to really know it.

Most Bonsai trees are not really sculpture, they do have aspects of sculptural technique, but nothing really
akin to say - Michaelangelo's Pieta.

I have often wondered if the Masters of Bonsai or Penjing even study any form of Art or is it rote?

But you see this is a hobby and after I saw how trees are just sold when one dies and another takes over, I stopped
bothering with any of those ideas / philosophies.
AND went back to my profession - Fine Art.
After all these centuries - a Raphael - is still a Raphael.

So now I just enjoy growing seeds and seedlings, since with my troughs I can get 3" trunks in a year or two or three.
I am just getting ready to show George [ Geo ] a happy situation with a tamarind going from 1/4 inch to almost 3"
[0.6 cm to 7.5 cm ] in a year [ actually about 9 months ]

I prefer to work at 15" to 18" [ 38 cm to 46 cm ] so I overshot and will probably end up at closer to 5" [ 13 cm ]
with the finished tree.

I really don't have a lot of interest in the politics of Bonsai - who is trying to make a name or sales.
Joined IBC to make a few friends, though the Internet and friendship is a dangerous practice.
Writing to someone is very different to talking to someone.
Stay Well.
Laters.
Khaimraj




Great post Khaimraj! Always good to read them. I know that I can almost pull things off using your and Anthony's methods.At least in a climate sense,if not horticultural.By the way,I once mentioned Vellesia glabra(Pearl Berry).You or Anthony thought you might have one in your lab.Any reports about that plant?

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:49 am

beer city snake wrote:
MichaelS wrote: ...I think that many bonsai artists also don't know a thing about nature and don't even realise that the two things are connected. Their inspiration comes only from other artists.

true... but maybe not their fault.

Well I see it as a fault and a not small one either. It is very common to constantly hear people comparing bonsai with bonsai. That's all fine and even necessary to a degree. We all do it. Many times though, the original and very important connection with the natural world is overlooked. I see that as one of the major reasons why the slick - not a needle or leaf out of place - modern look has developed to the degree it has. If it continues on that path we may reach the stage where a round ball on a stick will be an accepted interpretation of a tree! In art maybe that's all ok, but it's not for me......

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Richard S on Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:16 am

Mike

When you say "slick...modern look" you don't mean "style" by any chance do you? Wink

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Joking aside though I think your right but I'm not sure it should come as a surprise. The world is full of artists (amateur and perhaps professional) who's principal inspiration is other peoples art. In bonsai it's no different. None of us can claim to have invented this concept and very few if any of us could honestly claim to have arrived at it without at least some influence from existing bonsai culture. So, as you say, people are constantly comparing bonsai with bonsai and "we all do it".

There's nothing inherently wrong with this, it's human nature. However it's a testament to how deeply ingrained this idea is that when someone like Walter Pall comes along and dares to suggest that we might go back for inspiration to the original source material (that's to say real trees in nature) he's treated like a heretic and attacked for his blasphemy!

Like you I am increasingly coming to the view that despite frequent claims to the contrary, for many of us at least, nature itself is not necessarily the only or even the primary inspiration for our bonsai. At least it is certainly not the model that most of us work from.

Regards

Richard

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Vance Wood on Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:35 pm

Everything in our lives influences what we think and what we do when given the opportunity to do something creative.  You cannot change that, the expression of your art is a reflection of those things you idealize, love, and admire.  The only way to not do that is to deliberately do the contrary.  You first analyze what you want to do, discover what there is in what you want to do that is evidence of an influence from something or someone else's works.  You then take those elements out of what you want to do and do the contrary.  Does this make sense to anyone.  In other words you create chaos, disorder and at best mediocrity.

This is of course just the way I see it.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:48 pm

michael - richard put it more succinctly than i could... the same applies to EVERY form of art.

but what i meant by saying "maybe not their fault" is that some simply do not have much access to nature apart from books, television, internet. all of which are piss-poor substitutions, and could not be expected to inspire as much awe, as the real thing.

but i agree with you that it is something of a fault if presented with another way of looking at things and rejecting it outright as wrong.



in thinking about the last dozen (or so) pages of this thread i cant help but wonder:
in an art form meant to bring a sense of serenity and connection to a living thing,
i am absolutely flummoxed as to why 90% of this thread has to be so damned contentious...
Confused

arent there more important things in this world for all of us to "pass judgement on" ? scratch


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Vance Wood on Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:55 pm

beer city snake wrote:michael - richard put it more succinctly than i could... the same applies to EVERY form of art.

but what i meant by saying "maybe not their fault" is that some simply do not have much access to nature apart from books, television, internet. all of which are piss-poor substitutions, and could not be expected to inspire as much awe, as the real thing.

but i agree with you that it is something of a fault if presented with another way of looking at things and rejecting it outright as wrong.



in thinking about the last dozen (or so) pages of this thread i cant help but wonder:
in an art form meant to bring a sense of serenity and connection to a living thing,
i am absolutely flummoxed as to why 90% of this thread has to be so damned contentious...
 Confused


arent there more important things in this world for all of us to "pass judgement on" ?   scratch


Are you sure you are not mistaking contention with passion?  We find ourselves in a state of flux where we are trying to grow beyond the standard rules, models, and norms, and still create something of beauty and grace that is not "Cookie Cutter" bonsai, but not Chaos style either.  There is the concept of growing pains.

We argue about Japanese Styles, Chinese Styles, Asian Styles a'la' Robert Stevens and others, European Styles and the ubiquitous and dreaded, The Big Foot sighting of bonsai-------"AMERICAN STYLE". ???? Does this sound contentious? Seriously I do not mean any contention with this at all. If you take it as contentious in the least, look at it again and see if there is another way you can look at it. If not; then the fault is yours, because contention was not my intention. The kettle is black can only be stated in so many ways.

Here is what I think is the crucial point. If we accept that there are good bonsai artistically, then we have to accept that there are not so good bonsai --- artistically. We live in a world of comparisons. How do we define one from the other? Of course it is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder therefore ---- ugly is too. We don't seem to want to take a stand on this issue. We are left with a sort of bench mark of quality where by most people, even those who know nothing of what we do, would agree that this is beautiful or this is ugly. In the graphic arts world we have three comparisons that come to mind. Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet. All attempted to portray the world as they saw it in totally different ways.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Fri Feb 19, 2016 2:18 pm

vance - passionate people are busy being passionate with little time for bickering about why the lotus blossom position is superior to the missionary position Wink

while i do see passionate arguments, they are "arguments" none-the-less...

and please, vance,  do take not what i write personally - it is aimed at the general direction of this thread...

i, for one, would rather continue visiting this thread in order to see "wonder full" trees rather than endless, repetitive (and sometimes pointless) rhetoric... but that is only my desire... i'm sure there are those who visit hoping for something to debate.


Last edited by beer city snake on Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:49 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : meant do NOT rather than DO take it personal)

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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