Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

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Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  KyleT on Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:45 pm

As some of you might know, long-time US bonsai community leader Jack Douthitt is spearheading the development of a new public bonsai collection in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As part of the development process, Jack and the Milwaukee Bonsai Foundation engaged a group of graduate students at the University of Wisconsin School of Architecture, asking them to propose designs for the bonsai garden. The students and I (I'm their professor) proposed ten gardens, each studying different possibilities, and the results were recently exhibited at Lynden Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee.

The proposed gardens are not intended to be built, but rather to generate ideas and to spark conversation among the members of the Milwaukee Bonsai Society and others, to help them refine their vision for what kind of garden they want. It was an exciting process, filled with passionate discussion and surprises. I wanted to share some of the highlights of the students' proposals, so you might share in our excitement. It's a rare thing for the US to gain a permanent bonsai collection, especially in the Midwest.

Below is a photo of Jack (at center) conversing about one of the proposals at the exhibition.



Below is a photo of the first place winner by a team of three students: Hugh Soward, Joe Thrasher & Tom Fontaine. The gabled building is an existing timber structure that might be reused for office/storage space. The white horizontal panels in the roof are solar panels for electricity collection. The roof-frame would have a fabric-like cable system in some areas for sun control.



Below are two photos of the second place proposal by Zach Kern & Jake Weyrauch. All the proposals accommodate 15 bonsai on formal display and 15 bonsai in a private "Holding Area", where they will receive maintenance and care, being prepared for seasonally-rotating display. The second place proposal uses a kind of furniture/cabinet system to display the bonsai.




Below is a photo of the third place proposal by Andrew Cesarz. It has a stronger internalized feel, with a wood plank screen wall system and also a screen system using perforated core ten steel, which rusts beautifully.



Below is an earlier study of the third place proposal, which explores how the steel screen can be used to make veiled views of the bonsai from outside the garden, enticing people to come inside.



Below is another notable proposal by Amanda Wagner, who splits the bonsai garden into a series of pavilions, each displaying a group of three or four trees.



The project will be moving forward in the coming months, and construction of the garden could be completed as early as the end of 2015.

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  JimLewis on Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:28 pm

What fun! None of these seem to have any provision for winter storage of the trees, though. I'd think that would be a high need up where you are. You also need to think about security.

I like #1 and #2 a lot. No preference.

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  jgeanangel on Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:33 pm

Very Cool!!!

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Overwintering at the Bonsai Garden

Post  KyleT on Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:24 am

Great points, Jim! Thanks for the feedback. Fortunately, the trees will be overwintered at a different location, nearby the garden, in an existing structure. The bonsai garden will close down during winter. Regarding security, we are fortunate that the site for the bonsai garden is inside Lynden Sculpture Garden, a 40 acre garden with a fairly secure perimeter. However, we will have motion detectors, flood lights and security cameras built into the design, as an extra measure. There are also lots of deer around, so we have to keep them at bay.


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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  Sam Ogranaja on Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:48 am

I can see why the winning design won. I like it very much. As an architectural photographer, it makes me want to shoot that space. It feels well thought out like someone who understood the year round need of plants and them not necessarily being in the best shape at all times. Are the open frames doors? Are these hinged or just added for visual appeal?

Amanda Wagner's concept is very cool as well.

What an awesome concept. Share more if you have more Smile

Merry Christmas!!!
Sam

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  John Quinn on Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:27 am

What fun!

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  kevin stoeveken on Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:08 pm

Sam Ogranaja wrote: What an awesome concept. Share more if you have more Smile

hey sam - i have some more pics from the event that i will post up when i get time... maybe this weekend.

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  JimLewis on Fri Dec 19, 2014 1:50 pm

KyleT wrote:Great points, Jim!  Thanks for the feedback.  . . .   There are also lots of deer around, so we have to keep them at bay.


What a GREAT opportunity to install a shishi odoshi (AKA deer chaser)!        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shishi-odoshi      . . . And add a nice little water feature.

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  kevin stoeveken on Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:08 pm

at first i thought we should put uniforms on the deer and hire them as guards...
but that might be like hiring a cop to guard a dunken donuts Razz

NO OFFENSE TO ANY POLICE OUT THERE...
as mickey rourke (playing charles bukowski) said in barfly:
"i don't hate the cops... i just feel better when they're not around" Wink


and jim -  that whatchmacallit is brilliant in its simplicity !

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  Vance Wood on Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:18 pm

Nice to see this kind of thing.  The designs are good if not totally impractical assigning a lot of space to a few trees.  Then of course, as is the case with a lot of dreams, who is going to pay for it?  Where are the trees going to come from?  Going to rely on donations of money and materials?  I can tell you one thing for certain:  If I was going to donate one of my trees, as good or bad as some may consider them, I would want to make sure they would be taken care of by someone who takes them as seriously as I do.  I do not mean to be a nay sayer but I see a  lot of questions with little in the way of answers.

The question of winter storage by Jim still remains important. It is altogether too easy to imagine a thing but until it becomes reality it is fantasy.

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Missed!

Post  DougB on Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:29 pm

Hey guys I think we have missed it! The value is not in the results of the exercise -- the value is in the experience in reaching the results. This was a educational exercise. Think of the value gained in researching they had to do, in their exposure to bonsai exhibitions, in the group process. Who know there may be a future oriental gardens expert in their mist.

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  kevin stoeveken on Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:52 pm

vance - for not wanting to be a nay-sayer, you sure are doing a good job  Wink  Wink  Wink

i dont believe kyle started this thread to go into all the logistics of the project as he and his students were simply conceptualizing some display possibilities, but they are not involved in any other way... and i may also not be the one to speak with all authority, but i do keep my ear to the rails...

so, having said that, and in somewhat of a response to the "questions without answers" (and they need to be asked, as you did, in order to be answered), this project is way beyond the pipe dream stage...

jack douthitt contributed a large sum of money to get the ball rolling, which has since been matched, with other funding continuing to roll in through various channels, including i believe, the lynden family themselves... i also know that several of the artists who have visited us in the past year have also made some generous contributions... and once the contract is hashed out by the mouth-pieces, the organizers plan to approach the corporate world outside of the bonsai community (my suggestion being to approach the paper companies here in wisconsin and give them a chance to "buy some good publicity")... so at this stage, i don't want to say that "money is no object" but i will say that it is not an issue for moving forward.

re: the trees, i believe that jack may be a major contributor of trees from his personal collection, and i believe i have heard rumblings about some tree donations from within the bonsai community outside of the wisconsin area... and with the large number of members in the milwaukee bonsai society, i dont believe there will be any issue with obtaining, maintaining and rotating quality material.

re: caretaking of the trees, there are no issues there as they will be maintained by folks that do indeed care as much about the trees as the owner does.

i believe all the designs incorporated some type of tree security, most being cleverly hidden or worked into the design so as not to be visibly intrusive.

re: winter storage, i know that has been addressed within the inner circle of the organizers, though i am not privy to those plans, but as we are all from the midwest we can rest assured that will be taken care of...

as things move forward perhaps i can get jack himself to come up with something for me to post here on his behalf.

as i said, i have a few more pics to add when i get time...

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  Precarious on Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:36 pm

Never woulda thunk it, but Milwaukee is a HOTBED for bonsai. Y'all 're reeeeeally shuckin' some corn now!

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  Leo Schordje on Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:46 pm

I was able to attend the showing  of these designs and it was fantastic. One point, that Kyle did not expound on is that this permanent display will not be at a botanic garden. It will be at a sculpture garden. Bonsai is art, and was deemed by the board of the Lynden Sculpture garden to be an appropriate collection to add to their facility. The Lynden Sculpture Garden is dedicated to sculpture by North American Artists. This means for a tree to qualify for the collection it must have been created by a north american artist. Vast majority of sculptures in the Lynden collection are works less than 50 years old. Using the terms in the lay person sense, the garden is dedicated to modern or contemporary sculpture (an art historian may have specific dates in mind for the terms, that is not how I mean it, Lynden often shows new artists). Lynden Sculpture garden asked that the designs include the 100+ year old timber framed shed that is utilized in the winning photos. They also required that the designs take in account the landscape and sculptures existing in the landscape into the designs. Kyle did not show all the renderings, but there are some nice vistas visible from the various bonsai displays. Some designs made very good use of the sculptures in the landscape, one in particular alternated between seeing bonsai, then the next space where you might see a tree was open with a view of a sculpture out in the park, then another tree, then a view centered on a different sculpture. This is radical stuff in the world of bonsai display. All the major collections in the US have you looking at the walls of the courtyard or a security fence. The Milwaukee Bonsai Foundation and the Lynden Sculpture Garden are really "thinking outside the pot" on this.

Think about it. Open views, no fake Japanese tea houses, no walled court yards. Design integrated into a walk through park setting with lakes, grasses, trees and sculptures. To my knowledge, no other permanent public collection has a similar goal. The bonsai trees themselves will be jury selected and deemed to reflect a north american sensibility of design, and not copies of Japanese designs. This is unique so far in the USA, Canada and Mexico. (the 3 countries the Lynden Sculpture garden collects for sculpture)  

About security - the Lynden Sculpture Garden is a significant multi-million dollar collection of art. When it was mentioned that perimeter security for the facility was adequate - trust it, it is pretty good. They only human security risks will be from guests, & volunteer staff that had already been granted permission to enter the park. "burglars" entering through the perimeter are a low probability issue, and would most likely be going after the sculptures, many of which would be worth significantly more than any of the trees, some are worth more than the S-Cube record breaking sale price tree that sold in 2013. So the security issue is one that can be solved by adding cameras and motion detectors to the bank of such items the security crew is already monitoring.

Security from the "cloven hoofed" type - deer, is an issue, the winning design the open frames are panels that will have as invisible as possible screening to keep out deer.

Money - this is an issue, but the seed money is in place, the Milwaukee Bonsai Foundation has already raised over $100,000 in just 18 months, from over 200 donors, average donation was less than $1,000. In other words, this is a community of people interested in maintaining a permanent bonsai collection and not just one donor's idea. The Milwaukee Bonsai Foundation is looking for more donations, and has only just started its search for corporate sponsors.  Over the next couple years there is hope to raise sufficient funds to support the collection. If Kyle or other members of the foundation board don't, I will in a separate post about the Foundation post more. PM me, or Kyle for more info if you are interested in donating  before I put up the post about the Foundation. I am not a member of the board of the MBF nor Lynden, but I support the goals of the groups.

There is so much more to talk about - it is an exciting project.

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  Leo Schordje on Fri Dec 19, 2014 5:09 pm

I do want to give a nod of recognition to Arthur Joura at the North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, NC. He embraces the concept of designing and displaying bonsai with local design sensibilities. I believe he has been in conversation with several members of the board of the Milwaukee Bonsai Foundation about the concept being planned for the Lyndon Sculpture Garden, trading ideas long before the foundation itself was incorporated.


Last edited by Leo Schordje on Sun Dec 21, 2014 4:59 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  kevin stoeveken on Fri Dec 19, 2014 8:47 pm

Leo Schordje wrote:Lynden Sculpture garden asked that the designs include the 100+ year old timber framed shed
i paid particular attention to this structure when we strolled out that-a-way and have what i hope are some nice pictures...

btw leo, that jOura Wink

and david: you betcha !!!
the longer i am in this and the more i see what other clubs are doing, the more grateful i am for what the milwaukee club does...
between the milwaukee club and our little "collective", we have a lot going for us.


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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  JimLewis on Fri Dec 19, 2014 9:21 pm

vance - for not wanting to be a nay-sayer, you sure are doing a good job

Get used to it. Vance may be the second grumpiest man in the bonsai world. First, of course, is me.

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  kevin stoeveken on Sat Dec 20, 2014 12:33 am

JimLewis wrote:
vance - for not wanting to be a nay-sayer, you sure are doing a good job

Get used to it.  Vance may be the second grumpiest man in the bonsai world. First, of course, is me.

oh, i know it Wink

but thats ok... i was thinking earlier today that "curmudgeon" is a term that needs to be earned in the same way that the term "artist" needs to be earned... i seriously enjoy the "curmudgeons" of the world and what they have to offer...

its kinda like getting to the sweet-meat hidden under a hard shelled nut...

btw - my father-in-law, dick heiden, is known locally, and referred to in the press as the "wine-curmudgeon",
so yeah, i got lucky there  drunken

hey vance: as an aside, i am 1/2 way through reading your interview that i found on line...
you, like jim, get a waiver and have earned the right do what ever the hell you want...
(and you certainly don't need me to tell you that)
but it would be an honor to be allowed to call either one of you a curmudgeon.

now... enough blowing  sunny up your backsides...
back to the subject at hand !!!

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Much More than Blue Sky

Post  KyleT on Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:46 pm

Thanks to my fellow Arbor Arts members Kevin and Leo for chiming in with more details and answers to the great questions and comments people have posted. It's good to emphasize that the student effort was not just a pie-in-the-sky exercise undertaken for fun. The bonsai garden already has adequate funding to be realized, and the details of contracts, siting and timing are now being finalized. While the design of the garden will evolve a lot in coming months, the Milwaukee Bonsai Foundation would like to complete construction of the garden in the 12-18 month timeframe.

It is worth elaborating a bit on some of the logistics, which could inspire others to consider a similar model for spearheading gardens elsewhere.

In a nutshell, the model is this:


Collaborate with an existing art museum, botanic garden or arboretum to acquire land. (This minimizes land costs.)

Undertake a fund-raising campaign to acquire money for design and construction. For the initial phase of development, keep the scope of the bonsai garden small. (This minimizes construction costs.)

Solicit donations of trees from major national bonsai artists, to build the collection. (This minimizes acquisition costs.)

Collaborate with the local bonsai society to establish a volunteer program to maintain the trees. (This minimizes operating costs.)

Once a garden is in place, use its popularity to gradually expand the garden in further stages.


So far this model has worked well in Milwaukee. Surprisingly, I think raising money is the least difficult part of the puzzle. The real keys to project success have been: 1) a large, active bonsai society, with enough experienced members to take impeccable care of a collection of world-class trees, 2) a nationally recognized bonsai artist, Jack Douthitt, who knows many people in the international bonsai community, and 3) we have Lynden Sculpture Garden, an unusual large-scale outdoor art museum with a compatible mission. But I believe these same kinds of forces could crystalline in other parts of the country as bonsai continues to gain popularity.


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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  kora on Sun Dec 21, 2014 4:25 am

Let me say, that this is a great exercise for architecst: BUT, and there is a big BUT for me-in all the designs, the essence of bonsai was lost-too many sharp edges; squares; heavy handed frames-everything in straight rows etc. where are the curves. It is Quite clear, that none of the students know what a tokonoma looks like-or have studied their design.Every tokonoma has a non straight post. Sorry, I'd say, back to the drawing board. Especially, if this is an exercise, creativity is totally lacking-think outside of the box instead of constricting bonsai into the box!

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  JimLewis on Sun Dec 21, 2014 1:15 pm

On the other hand, bonsai don't have to be displayed Japanese style. I see little wrong with any of these designs from the display standpoint (except, perhaps, from the standpoint of a photographer) and think that stark, sharp angles can make a nice contrast with the free-form trees and make them stand out for the viewer.

Form the photography standpoint . . . I seem to recall that one proposed display boasted that the trees -- or some of them -- would be displayed against the woodsy, garden background. That is fine from the naked eye standpoint, but terrible for the photographer, as green trees vanish against the busy green background.

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  kevin stoeveken on Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:32 pm

kora wrote: It is Quite clear, that none of the students know what a tokonoma looks like-or have studied their design.

thank god they dont and didnt, otherwise it would end up being just another imitation japanese setting plopped into the middle of a north american sculpture garden and THAT is exactly what the foundation did NOT want, and jack was very clear about that (bless his soul.)

kora wrote: creativity is totally lacking-think outside of the box instead of constricting bonsai into the box!

my turn to say sorry, but if i may be so bold as to point out, there is a huge contradiction in what you write...

wouldnt studying a known and established design paradigm, by extension just result in designs influenced by that same paradigm ???

no need to answer that... of course it would.

thinking outside the box is probably best when you dont even know there is a box.

kora wrote: Sorry, I'd say, back to the drawing board.

it wouldnt hurt to read the whole thread to understand the purpose of these designs.

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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  kevin stoeveken on Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:49 pm

this is the building that was mentioned that will be included as part of the final design.

the lynden family stipulated that it remains standing as they have fond memories of its usage in the olden days as a womens changing room for summer swimming in the ponds (the mens area known as the bull-pen is the fenced in area), along with it being a warming hut for ice skating on the same ponds in the winter...

cant say as i blame them for wanting to keep it as part of the bonsai display.











and this is preserved and found inside the main building



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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  kevin stoeveken on Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:58 pm

more design photos




































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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

Post  kevin stoeveken on Sun Dec 21, 2014 4:02 pm

a couplafew pics of the surrounding gardens and some sculptures on the gray day of the exhibit.













oh-oh !!!
this one looks suspiciously oriental Wink


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Re: Exhibition of Design Proposals for a New Permanent Bonsai Garden

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