American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Tree Hugger on Fri Feb 19, 2016 2:27 pm

DougB wrote:A great big thanks to Mr Martin for such a marvelous bonsai.  And to Ken for the perfect pot for this tree.

And Arthur what a great lesson in accepting and respecting what is.  So often we only see the ugly and just have to fix it and change it into our vision of perfection.  This tree and not just your discussion, but in reality seeing the natural beauty is a model for us all.

I am sad to report that Mr. Melvin Martin, the donor of an American Hornbeam to the NC Arboretum that was worked on by Arthur in the video on page 25 of this thread, passed away earlier this month.

http://lancasteronline.com/obituaries/melvin-s-martin/article_487159ba-21b0-5a13-ae47-ba7f57daa9ce.html

It is a beautiful hornbeam that will be appreciated by the public for many years. I look forward to seeing it on my next trip to the Arboretum.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Vance Wood on Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:57 pm

Tree Hugger wrote:
DougB wrote:A great big thanks to Mr Martin for such a marvelous bonsai.  And to Ken for the perfect pot for this tree.

And Arthur what a great lesson in accepting and respecting what is.  So often we only see the ugly and just have to fix it and change it into our vision of perfection.  This tree and not just your discussion, but in reality seeing the natural beauty is a model for us all.  

I am sad to report that Mr. Melvin Martin, the donor of an American Hornbeam to the NC Arboretum that was worked on by Arthur in the video on page 25 of this thread, passed away earlier this month.

http://lancasteronline.com/obituaries/melvin-s-martin/article_487159ba-21b0-5a13-ae47-ba7f57daa9ce.html

It is a beautiful hornbeam that will be appreciated by the public for many years.  I look forward to seeing it on my next trip to the Arboretum.

The sad end of all things. It is a shame and none of us every get used to having it happen.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Arthur Joura on Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:55 pm

Tree Hugger (Roger?) - Thank you for posting notice of Mr. Martin's passing. He was a unique individual and I feel honored to have met him, and deeply thankful for his generosity toward the NC Arboretum bonsai program.

Here is an image of Mr. Martin made in 2010, posed next to his outstanding American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) that he grew from seed:



Here is a portrait of that same hornbeam as it appeared at the start of last year's growing season:



This specimen enjoyed a healthy first year at the NC Arboretum! I look forward to having it out on display in the garden this year.

For those who missed it the first time or may want to watch it again, here is a link to the video about this hornbeam made by John Geanangel last year: http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t12772p360-american-bonsai-at-the-nc-arboretum#167120

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Tree Hugger on Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:32 pm

Arthur Joura wrote:Tree Hugger (Roger?)

Not Roger. I am new to bonsai. I hope to see you this Sunday at Natures Way, if I make it.

Great picture. Are you bringing the hornbeam with you?

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An Open Letter To Walter Pall 2/19/16

Post  Arthur Joura on Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:48 pm

Hello Walter,

Thank you for sharing your impressions of the state of bonsai in the EU. You stressed that what you offered were your opinions only, and I want to assure you I understand them to be such. Much as I admire what you do and what you know I never confuse your opinions with objective fact. I seek your opinion, though, not only because I think it to be well informed but because you make it so abundantly available! It is only half a joke for me to say that - at present you are the only EU-based bonsai professional who regularly participates on the IBC public forum. It used to be that others did, too. In fact, a friend of mine once said, when I asked him why he participated on another bonsai forum and not the IBC, he did not post here because the IBC was too "Eurocentric". At one time he might have been able to make a good case for that, but no longer.

I want to clarify my position as regards the issue of Japanese influence in American and, from what you say, European bonsai. I have no desire to throw away all the valuable information we have learned from our Japanese teachers, starting over from scratch, any more than I mean to disrespect the Japanese when I acknowledge how they have promoted and reinforced the idea of the bonsai concept being a Japanese product. My primary bonsai teacher was Yuji Yoshimura. I spent time studying bonsai in Japan with Susumu Nakamura in an arrangement facilitated by the Nippon Bonsai Association. I am, as previously stated on several occasions, grateful for what was shared with me personally by Japanese teachers, and I am grateful for what the Japanese bonsai industry did in bringing the art of bonsai to the Western world. That should be entirely understood. My perspective, however, is that whatever our beginnings might be we should move on from there, hopefully in a direction that proves to be forward.

Here is a personal statement I have been making for a long time: Bonsai is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end.

I do not do bonsai because I want to own bonsai. As a matter of fact, I do not own bonsai and do not wish to acquire any. Likewise, the primary end I seek through bonsai is not to earn a paycheck, although I am fortunate enough to have that arrangement. If the end I sought was primarily money I would have quit bonsai a long time ago and found some better means toward that end. And at the risk of saying the same thing over and over, or repeating myself, or otherwise being redundant, I do not care enough about any foreign culture to do bonsai as a means to express that appreciation.

My own strongest inclinations are toward creative expression, coupled with an appreciation of the wonder of the natural world. Additionally, as a human being, for reasons completely beyond my control (and frequently enough also beyond my understanding) I have a compelling need to communicate with other human beings, in a way that goes beyond the basic sort of verbalization required of any of us to successfully navigate our way through everyday life. Without my ever having consciously sought it out, bonsai presented itself to me as a vehicle for achieving all three of these personal needs.

Bonsai is a challenging form of creative expression. As a creatively inclined individual I have worked in a number of different mediums, and I find bonsai to be unique for a variety of reasons. Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of it is that the medium is alive and growing, which means constantly changing. It is also growing at a relatively slow rate which brings in the element of time, as in prolonged periods of waiting for developments to occur before the work may progress, which demands a level of patience that is not called for in other creative mediums. Plants do not think, as far as I know, but they behave as if they have minds of their own, and a bonsai grower is therefore obliged to share the creative process with the subject that is being shaped. Most critically, the medium is alive and must be kept alive in order to maintain its integrity, which demands the grower be capable of keeping it alive, perpetually.

In this way bonsai connects directly with the natural world, as it uses a piece of nature as the medium. Beyond that, however, the bonsai medium can be used to reflect an experience of nature as its message. It can be used that way, but it does not have to be. I prefer it that way because whatever medium I might choose to use as my creative vehicle I mostly want to communicate about my experience of the natural world. This is why I find more personal attraction in Naturalistic style bonsai than any other. Classical bonsai is an expression of nature viewed through the lens of a (for me) foreign culture. Neoclassical bonsai is an interpretation, a second-hand retelling, of an expression of nature viewed through the lens of foreign culture. Modern bonsai style subordinates nature almost entirely to a human impulse toward abstraction and a design theory predicated on precise and total control. Naturalistic bonsai involves a human being observing and otherwise experiencing nature and then creating something that expresses what he or she learned and felt as a result of doing so.

When I wrote the passage you just read I had to struggle to come up with the right words to express myself. When I create a naturalistic bonsai all I have to do is put it in front of another human being:



Bonsai allows me to communicate with other human beings on a level that supersedes speech.

Why am I writing these things to you? Well, of all the other bonsai professionals I have met you are one of the very few who seems to think about bonsai in a way reasonably similar to my own. Even if we do not agree on all points, and I know we do not, I think you well understand where I am coming from. And in much of your work I can discern the spirit of someone who has a sensitivity to the wonder of trees in nature, feels the need to express it, and has the creative wherewithal to do so with artistic flair (I cannot say I see these things in all your bonsai because your modernistic work has little to do with the wonder of trees in nature and everything to do with artistic flair.) You also have the ego that allows (demands) you to project your ideas out into the world and the intellect to express those ideas effectively with words. It helps, too, that you make yourself accessible through the Internet, and who else among the big dogs of bonsai does that?

Of course, I am not writing these things only to you. The obvious intent of this open correspondence is to invite others to eavesdrop on the exchange. I am ostensibly writing to you, but I am really writing to anyone who cares to read it, and you are replying in kind. That is the very nature of an open correspondence. We are doing this on a public forum, as one reader so astutely pointed out, so naturally we have put this exchange out there for others to comment on as they see fit. There has been a little bit of response and some of it has been worth reading, but overall we do not seem to be generating all that much interest. The usual handful of people who are active on the forum have contributed to this discussion and I appreciate their involvement. Part of the problem is that so few people are active anymore. In the old days of the IBC, when the forum was alive with many participants, some of whom were professionals and many others of whom were longtime hobbyists with a lot of experience and very good personal collections, such a correspondence as we are having now might have crashed the site! We would have had so many responses we might not have gotten in another word edgewise, and we would have taken so much abuse from those of the fundamentalist persuasion that we might have backed down in fear of their verbal violence. Well, I might have. I am certain you would have risen to the occasion.



Last edited by Arthur Joura on Wed Mar 02, 2016 10:25 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:55 pm

As one old IBCer put it to me , too many requests for help on sticks.

The second comment is - hide it's Christmas, and here come the mallsai.

When the list was non visual - folk who could write were abundant and write well, great thinkers.
As things became visual, the thinking / reading went away, too much freeness, little reading of books,
just ask visually at the Forum - the way of the Internet. Crying or Very sad

For my part, as I approach year 35 / 36 and my trees are also around 35, not sure if I have a 36 from seed.
My thoughts have changed from repottings and Designs to other.
I just started my new notebook on Bonsai a few days ago, and it says on the first page - this may be a book
on philosophical thoughts.

I am sure there are others thinking the same.

Most actions dealing with Horticulture are second nature, more instinct, and Designs are as I said, controlled
by drawings.

I have started removing trees, shrubs that just don't work for me.
Looking for a few flowering shrubs / trees [ local ] and simply enjoying what I have grown.

Just by using my world as the inspiration, a Trinidadian style will be born, it's not something that you spend
a lot of time thinking about.
Same happened with oil painting and drawing.
It happens naturally, If you have something to say.

Style is not something you have to think about, it is more about you, and then come the followers, later the
copiers.

I see the Impressionists thrown around so much - Laughing - here and on the various art forms, they are the ones most reproduced.
Why ---------- easiest to copy.
Very rare you see someone try a Da Vinci, Rapheal, Tiziano, or Correggio or a Dutch little master - Rysdael for example.

WHY - because with these guys you have to be able to draw -exceptionally well - and paint exceptionally well -
and also have an intellect.

The head - the heart - the hand - seen as The Intellect - The Emotion - The Craft.

Not sure where Bonsai fits into this, as I tend to follow the Chinese Scholar's way - a stimulation for the Imagination
which powers the ideas for Oil Painting.
So Tree Penjing is a way to focus and free the thinking.
[ I hand water, and walk about 5 miles a day, great exercise, since I also live on the side of a hill - has kept me strong - still mixing
concrete and building - thank you Bonsai!!!!!!!!!!!]

The legend of the Old Lady and her Bonsai in a cake pan.
Grown for years, lovingly.
How much more do you need.
The love of Nature and in living, in love.
Respectfully
Khaimraj

* George, have no idea about that shrub, humble apologies.


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Walter Pall on Sun Feb 21, 2016 4:51 pm

Dear Arthur,

Arthur Joura wrote:
My perspective, however, is that whatever our beginnings might be we should move on from there, hopefully in a direction that proves to be forward.

Sure, I absolutely agree. The bonsai scene often enough makes me state that this is the most backward looking art scene that I know of. In every other art form they compete in who is the most rebellious, who has invented the most unique thing. In bonsai they argue about who is following rules.


Arthur Joura wrote:Here is a personal statement I have been making for a long time: Bonsai is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end.

Absolutely!

Arthur Joura wrote:Most critically, the medium is alive and must be kept alive in order to maintain its integrity, which demands the grower be capable of keeping it alive, perpetually.

You have not touched an aspect that is more and more important to me and probably to many others. One cannot choose to do bonsai whenever you feel like it and leave the trees alone in the meanwhile. Whether you like it or not, you have to watch and care for them every day. It is much like an old fashioned farmer. Whether he likes it or not, he is forced to care for his farm every single day of the year. This keeps him busy and healthy, mentally and physically, much like a bonsai master. Bonsai masters become very old most of the time. They are forced to work physically and mentally every single day. And they have a good reason to see the next spring again.

The other phenomenon is that your trees are getting better the older you are if you know what you are doing. Your skills are getting better by  the nature of the beast called bonsai. In most fields in life you are done after a certain age. You are not taken for serious anymore one day - sooner than you like. Not so in bonsai. You can progress much longer than in most fields.  One can be VERY old and still be a respected master.

Arthur Joura wrote:Of course, I am not writing these things only to you. The obvious intent of this open correspondence is to invite others to eavesdrop on the exchange. I am ostensibly writing to you, but I am really writing to anyone who cares to read it, and you are replying in kind. That is the very nature of an open correspondence. We are doing this on a public forum, as one reader so astutely pointed out, so naturally we have put this exchange out there for others to comment on as they see fit.

This is the internet way of a podium discussion. A couple of well chosen folks are on stage and discuss stuff. The audience can listen to everything. The audience has an opinion and can voice it. They can discuss this under themselves. But the panel goes on with their discussion as if there were no viewers. But it is, of course, all for these viewers. Why then does the panel not discuss with the audience? Because that would interrupt the flow of thoughts too much. There is a very wide range of know how, intellect, linguistic abilities, opinions etc. If everyone had a say we would end like this other forum – The end of civilization.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Sun Feb 21, 2016 6:17 pm

Walter Pall wrote:
Arthur Joura wrote:Here is a personal statement I have been making for a long time: Bonsai is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end.

Absolutely!


could this not be amended to read:

Bonsai is not an end in itself; it is a means to a furtherment

...means to an end sounds so... final.
as if there would then be nothing more to do, learn, discover...

_________________

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aka beer city snake
link to ARBOR ARTS COLLECTIVE BLOG

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Vance Wood on Sun Feb 21, 2016 6:55 pm

beer city snake wrote:
Walter Pall wrote:
Arthur Joura wrote:Here is a personal statement I have been making for a long time: Bonsai is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end.

Absolutely!


could this not be amended to read:

Bonsai is not an end in itself; it is a means to a furtherment

...means to an end sounds so... final.
as if there would then be nothing more to do, learn, discover...

Yes it

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Van on Wed Feb 24, 2016 1:59 am

Just came across a few pictures on Bill Valavanis' website: http://valavanisbonsaiblog.com/, hope he doesn't mind to share it here.


Natural Style?


Another Natural Style?


Fairytale?

Are these not Japanese styles?  Could they possibly mimic Walter Pall? ... or there are nothing new under the sun?  Bill declared " I am outta here" a while back on this thread, I would love to hear what he thinks if we take Japanese elements out of bonsai.

IMHO, trees are not the same as a blank canvas; they are just like us, living and breathing therefore each possess its own self-nature.  A successful artist is the one who share the environment with certain species of the trees, be able to see different characteristic variations they show, has the strong emotional connection with them in order to bring out the best character of the species not only in term of artistry but also emotional perspective.  If a Japanese master is given a Bald Cypress, I don't think he/she will be successful if never before experience what a bayou in southern US looks like.  I could not imagine what a Japanese Black Pine bonsai would look like if strip all of the Japanese elements from the design.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Richard S on Wed Feb 24, 2016 1:55 pm

Van

For the record there's a Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum?) in Kyuzo Murata's Four Seasons of Bonsai book.

It's not a particularly fine example and Murata remarks that "The wayward branches of the Bald Cypress are unmanageable, but the delicate grace of the new green foliage more than compensates for the awkwardness".

There's also a Japanese Black Pine in the book styled in a what appears to be a kind of multi-trunk clump form. Not sure whether this is what you meant by "Japanese elements of design" in Black Pine bonsai though? It certainly doesn't look like most JBP bonsai you see but then there are no triangular maples with perfectly positioned horizontal branches in his book either.

I don't know whether this tells us anything of interest but you did ask (well, kind of).

Regards

Richard

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Van on Wed Feb 24, 2016 2:15 pm

Richard S wrote:For the record there's a Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum?) in Kyuzo Murata's Four Seasons of Bonsai book.

It's not a particularly fine example and Murata remarks that "The wayward branches of the Bald Cypress are unmanageable, but the delicate grace of the new green foliage more than compensates for the awkwardness".

Regards

Richard

This is why emotional connection is so important in bonsai design.  People live in its environment understand the struggle, the grace and beauty shaped by its own natural habitat that a foreign person perceives as awkwardness.  Thanks for the reference.

van

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Richard S on Wed Feb 24, 2016 4:49 pm

Yes Van, I would definitely agree with the essence of that.

As I think I said in a previous post, all of art is ultimately an attempt to express and emotional response to some aspect of human experience. Without the emotional connection you refer to it would not be art.

Regards

Richard

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Dave Leppo on Wed Feb 24, 2016 5:05 pm

I gather from reading Walter's articles (or maybe his videos) that some older Japanese trees (c. 1920) were styled in a naturalistic manner. Of course they were invocative of natural full-scale Japanese examples. He also mentions that Kimura claimed to be doing "traditional" styling, but this sounded strange at the time when compairing his work to his contemporarys.
What was exported to America tended to be a more cookie-cutter Japanese style (not always!).
There is Naturalistic styling, and within that category are regional examples; Arthur is focusing on a Southern Appalachian Naturalistic, Nick Lens a New England, and Dan Robinson a Western North American . You can judge the success of each basd on their respective work.

Something I've noted: we are told to follow the rules, but it are the trees that break one or more rules that are the "masterpieces" put in books and magazene covers.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  AlainK on Wed Feb 24, 2016 5:59 pm

Thanks for posting, Van.

Beautiful examples of "freestyle" bonsai cheers

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Thu Feb 25, 2016 2:38 am


Van wrote:Just came across a few pictures on Bill Valavanis' website: http://valavanisbonsaiblog.com/, hope he doesn't mind to share it here.


Natural Style?


Another Natural Style?


Fairytale?



Are these not Japanese styles?
Yes they are (beautiful too by the way!) but they are also ''tree style''.  I think we need to remember that there are good bonsai practitioners in Japan but there are also bad ones just as everywhere else. So we can't automatically assume that ''Japanese'' is the best way. It just happens that the best examples of the art are in Japan. These are 3 examples of many years spent doing outstanding work (unlike the above hornbeam which if compared to the best, should not be called outstanding...remember size has nothing to do with quality) and using nature and the natural growth of trees for direction and inspiration but with an eye to keeping undesirable features (natural or not) removed. That's the difference between naturalistic styles in Japan and those done in the West IMO. If that is the important ''Japanese element'' we should use it. Once again, just because a natural tree has a certain feature does not mean we need to include it in the design of a bonsai for it to be in a natural style. In Japan, there is great emphasis placed on the beauty of form. The whole purpose of bonsai was the contemplation of natural beauty.  I don't know about others but when I look at bonsai (particularly if I have to do it every day) I want them to give me a feeling of natural beauty, calmness, rusticity and wildness but with peacefulness with as few strident features as possible. Some natural features can be unsettling or disturbing. I don't want to see those in a my bonsai.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  redmoon on Thu Feb 25, 2016 5:40 pm

MichaelS wrote:
.... many years spent doing outstanding work (unlike the above hornbeam which if compared to the best, should not be called outstanding...remember size has nothing to do with quality) and using nature and the natural growth of trees for direction and inspiration but with an eye to keeping undesirable features (natural or not) removed. That's the difference between naturalistic styles in Japan and those done in the West IMO. If that is the important ''Japanese element'' we should use it. Once again, just because a natural tree has a certain feature does not mean we need to include it in the design of a bonsai for it to be in a natural style. In Japan, there is great emphasis placed on the beauty of form. The whole purpose of bonsai was the contemplation of natural beauty.

I find this to be true as well. It’s also worth mentioning just how much we can quantify the dividing line between the “outstanding” and the mediocre (or worse). It’s not as ‘subjective’ as some would have us think. There are standards. Leaving for a moment thoughts of esthetic beauty, these standards are driven in a large part by knowledge and technique. As an example take for instance deciduous trees. We know most will easily root from old wood. Most will layer with no problems. Knowing that there really is no excuse for ugly surface roots on a deciduous tree. Knowing that as we look at a tree with bad nebari it’s logical to relegate the work to the mediocre (or worse). We study the techniques, apply them practically, and soon anything less is substandard.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Vance Wood on Thu Feb 25, 2016 5:54 pm

redmoon wrote:
MichaelS wrote:
.... many years spent doing outstanding work (unlike the above hornbeam which if compared to the best, should not be called outstanding...remember size has nothing to do with quality) and using nature and the natural growth of trees for direction and inspiration but with an eye to keeping undesirable features (natural or not) removed. That's the difference between naturalistic styles in Japan and those done in the West IMO. If that is the important ''Japanese element'' we should use it. Once again, just because a natural tree has a certain feature does not mean we need to include it in the design of a bonsai for it to be in a natural style. In Japan, there is great emphasis placed on the beauty of form. The whole purpose of bonsai was the contemplation of natural beauty.

I find this to be true as well. It’s also worth mentioning just how much we can quantify the dividing line between the “outstanding” and the mediocre (or worse). It’s not as ‘subjective’ as some would have us think. There are standards. Leaving for a moment thoughts of esthetic beauty, these standards are driven in a large part by knowledge and technique. As an example take for instance deciduous trees. We know most will easily root from old wood. Most will layer with no problems. Knowing that there really is no excuse for ugly surface roots on a deciduous tree. Knowing that as we look at a tree with bad nebari it’s logical to relegate the work to the mediocre (or worse). We study the techniques, apply them practically, and soon anything less is substandard.

Holy Cow! Here come the lynch mobs on both sides of the fence. Do you want to be the Lord High Tree Judge?

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  redmoon on Thu Feb 25, 2016 6:08 pm

Vance Wood wrote:Holy Cow!  Here come the lynch mobs on both sides of the fence.  Do you want to be the Lord High Tree Judge?

???

What exactly is this fence you are referring to Vance Wood?  

Lord High Tree judge? It is called being discerning. It is what one has to be moving forward towards excellence.

You seem to be posturing Vance Wood. Sorry if I stepped on your toes. Maybe you can explain what it is I stated that you do not agree with? Fence?

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Vance Wood on Thu Feb 25, 2016 7:43 pm

redmoon wrote:
Vance Wood wrote:Holy Cow!  Here come the lynch mobs on both sides of the fence.  Do you want to be the Lord High Tree Judge?

???

What exactly is this fence you are referring to Vance Wood?  

Lord High Tree judge? It is called being discerning. It is what one has to be moving forward towards excellence.

You seem to be posturing Vance Wood. Sorry if I stepped on your toes. Maybe you can explain what it is I stated that you do not agree with? Fence?

Just trying to point out that you are talking of setting standards, which could be read as rules, which can take this entire discussion back to the beginning and doing it all over again. I'm not saying you are wrong or that you stepped on my toes, I'm pretty quick for a fat man and I got my toes out of the way. I am not offended or angry, I was simply making a joke about being in the middle of an argument/discussion, where none of this is resolved to the acceptance of all parties. I am afraid that in the end two opposing groups of bonsai artists could be coming for your head for suggesting that there is some sort of middle ground that can actually be defined, cataloged and set as standards to be followed. However I suppose it will be me that is going to receive the brunt of the criticizms, but I laugh in the face of the scorn. Just joking-----sort of.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  redmoon on Thu Feb 25, 2016 10:43 pm

Ah! I understand Mr. Wood and no worries. I certainly don’t wish to stifle bonsai by saddling it with dogma (defined, cataloged and set as standards to be followed). The misunderstanding is a failure on my part to communicate well. I believe we as individuals can and should cultivate our own set of standards even though those standards must be in a constant state of flux. As our trees grow so we must as well. Building miniature trees is more often than not an exercise in problem solving. Some of these problems can be fixed, some need to be worked around, and some are so dominant it becomes a question of whether or not it’s worth the effort. I have no wish to impose my standards on other bonsai-ists but when looking at a tree put together by another it’s only natural to hold that work up against our own standards. I can separate the work from the creator of that work. I admire trees for their ability to evoke. I admire the artist for their ability to problem solve.

Anyway, I have no illusion of resolving this argument to a level acceptable to the parties concerned. It was just an observation. I do fancy myself somewhere in the middle though in that I wish to build an arsenal of knowledge and technique from all schools. Hopefully to apply as an individual tree (and it’s problems) dictates. Ultimately, the success or failure of our efforts can only be judged by ourselves. Does it meet our standards and if not, how far short does it fall?

Let them come ...

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Vance Wood on Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:01 pm

On those points I agree with you which is pretty much what I thought you were saying.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:49 pm

Vance Wood wrote:
some sort of middle ground that can actually be defined, cataloged and set as standards to be followed.
Sure there's always a middle ground. Everything is valid....to the person actually doing it. However, as redmoon says, there are standards which anyone can choose to aspire to whether they are achieved or not. You can also choose to ignore them or even deny their existence but the truth is that they are there. Someone may, for example, be quite happy listening to pop music all their lives knowing that there are higher forms of music but choose to avoid it.  Others (many) may not even realise that fact. No rules and everything is valid to the individual. But surely a greater weight must be given to the artist who has reached the pinnacle of his field by dedicating his entire life trying to achieve perfection than to someone who merely dips his toes into the art from time to time. Of course we also have everything in between. Some strive but may not have the ability, others may have the ability but not the resources, some start too late. We can turn our backs on what has gone before and form a new set of standards but we can't then claim that they are equal or superior if they are not. Going back to the hornbeam, if it to be considered outstanding, first demonstrate what it stands out amongst. Arthur has used the words ''masterpiece'' and ''outstanding'' to describe two works. The only reasons I can see for this are 1; that he fails to see the difference between these and clearly superior works, 2; that he does not agree that there are superior works; or 3; that they in a different ''class'' or ''style'' and should not be compared. In my personal opinion all 3 of these reasons are wrong. It is perfectly fine to be satisfied with the Hornbeam as it is and even to aspire to reproducing it but it should be pointed out that it's quality is only relative.
Arthur, I notice that you usually prefer to engage with those in agreement with you but should you disagree with the above, feel free to explain your view..........




Here is what I consider to be an outstanding hornbeam. It may be argued that the comparison is unfair. Why? Because it is older and has been worked for many years? Then look closely at the selection of the main (early) branches and the incredible vision of the artist for the future of the tree. Because the style is different? We are talking about quality of work.






Here is a stewartia in a similar upright style which demonstrates the difference in technique, sensitivity, skill and dedication.


So, can we at least call a spade a spade?

Go back and have another look at the American hornbeam. Take for example the wiring of the lowest left branch we should see a vast difference in the approach to styling. To me the wire there serves no particular purpose and the mediocre branch has no elegance and seems to have little future and no direction. Basically, it's ugly, as are many other parts of the tree  (I STRESS...TO ME) Others may feel differently.

MichaelS
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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Fri Feb 26, 2016 12:28 am

Michael,

my first question would be, is that Japanese Hornbeam, a cultivar. In other words, not a normal hornbeam.
I have noted that many of the superior efforts are also special cultivars, but often this is quietly forgotten.

So even if the American effort were reworked could it reach such a level of density?

The stewartia, would end up with same question - cultivar ?

I am especially aware of the Branch Density bit, simply because the Fustic [ Chlorophora tintoria ] I have
exhibited here [ which is young in training ] has the ability to densify like a Zelkova, but this is a special tree.
The others I have found as seedlings, cannot do it, even if the leaf is elm shaped [ the other leaves look like a
bite has been taken out of it ]

So I have propagated this one tree for more intense work.

It is unfair to compare Japanese masterworks with American attempts simply because they have not
really started to use their resources.
Imagine ultra dense of branch Taxodiums, or Seagrapes with multi branches and say 2.5 cm leaves naturally.

I am not sure if these guys are even really using their native trees, just what is familiar from the East.

Remember the Japanese have a J.B.pine that has 1" [ 2.5 cm ] needles naturally or Zuisho.

You can clip and grow a normal Buttonwood, but it will only do so much genetically.
BUT now we have one that can branch and has naturally smaller leaves.
HOWEVER it will takes years to understand it all and learn to use that understanding.
Laters.
Khaimraj


Last edited by Khaimraj Seepersad on Fri Feb 26, 2016 12:30 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Dave Leppo on Fri Feb 26, 2016 12:51 am

I just went back to the American Hornbeam, and noticed the video link. I urge any to watch it who haven't. The tree, and the artist are described as "highly unconventional".

Dave Leppo
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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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