American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  jtay123 on Mon Mar 07, 2016 4:26 pm

Some great reading here.

Thanks for sharing Arther and Walter.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Richard S on Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:57 pm

I'm not really sure what to say in response to that post and yet I feel move to say something. So, I'll just say thank you Walter for taking the time to share that fascinating insight into you life and your passion for bonsai.

Regards

Richard

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Tue Mar 08, 2016 12:34 pm

sunny


Last edited by beer city snake on Tue Mar 22, 2016 11:27 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : because i came off sounding like a dick...)

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  AlainK on Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:48 pm


The NeverEnding Story:

Rolling Eyes

...not for you...

...I know why you're all here: for nothing...

...go on a quest...

SAVE US!!!




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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  AlainK on Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:56 pm

PS:

Blah blah, yada yada blah blah.
Though blah blah blah, yada yada blah blah.
Blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blah, yada yada, blah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blah, yada yada.
Yada yada yada yada yada  yada yada  yada yada  yada yada  yada yada  yada yada  yada yada  yada yada  yada yada  yada yada  yada yada  (blah blah blah -blah yadablahblahbla!) blah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blah, yada yada.

Hips.



BURP! - beg your pardon.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Wed Mar 09, 2016 12:32 pm

AlainK wrote:BURP! - beg your pardon.

i kinda figured it was double bubble time in Near Orleans France drunken

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  DougB on Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:15 pm

Oh my we seem to have slipped and fallen right into the "pot". Some pick us up and return us to polite discussion ON the subjects.


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:46 pm

DougB wrote:Oh my we seem to have slipped and fallen right into the "pot".  Some pick us up and return us to polite discussion ON the subjects.


Doug

It's pretty hard to have a discussion on anything if no one is willing to discuss.
The on going fully ambiguous drone about classification is rather boring and is getting tedious. The merits of separating the so called neo-classical, classical, modern, naturalistic or other styles is at best rather dubious and seems to be a pre-occupation in the west only. Over-thinking this aspect of the art by seeking to ''pigeon hole'' everything has not demonstrated any particular enhancement of understanding in the minds of most thinking bonsai practitioners. What is relevant in my opinion, is the discussion of individual works. Not how they should be classified but the impression they give to the viewer and why. How could they be improved and why etc. There will always be differences of opinion as to whether the designer is successful. It is those differences of opinion which by articulating, will serve to broaden the scope of understanding of the various approaches taken and clarify their value in our own minds.
I have attempted to express my point of view regarding the design of individual works presented  (and I must say in a very measured way) with basically no response. It seems any disagreement here is met with silence. It's becoming clear that the amount of useful information to be extracted from this thread is rather limited due to a failure to engage in meaningful discussion. It is also possible that meaningful discussion is not even fully recognised.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:30 am

michael - at times i believe it has been the tone of disagreement which has quelled further discussion...

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  augustine on Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:17 pm

Quote from previous reply:

i forgot who said the following:

"speak only if it improves the silence"

+++++++++++++++++++++

This thread is very valuable but the constant noise make it very difficult to bear. Here we have 2 professionals educating us for free. Don't run them away.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Wed Mar 16, 2016 3:36 am

beer city snake wrote:michael - at times i believe it has been the tone of disagreement which has quelled further discussion...

As you probably know Kevin, We don't tip-toe on egg shells down here. The pretentious bullsit is just unbearable sometimes.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Wed Mar 16, 2016 3:37 am

[quote="augustine"]

Here we have 2 professionals educating us for free. Don't run them away.

Oh my stomach. I've seen enough.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:57 am

MichaelS wrote:
beer city snake wrote:michael - at times i believe it has been the tone of disagreement which has quelled further discussion...

As you probably know Kevin, We don't tip-toe on egg shells down here. The pretentious bullshit is just unbearable sometimes.

yes - i experienced it first hand and i appreciate plain-speak, but the pretentiousness must have slipped by me...
many of us hyenas dont have the many years of experience and knowledge that you do, but i didn't notice anyone pretending to, if that is what you are referring to... (oh - btw - looks like you dropped an "h"..... here, let me get that for you.)

but at any rate, i agree with augustine about the "noise" and i admittedly am a contributor to that...

however, i doubt that will drive off arthur or walter... from what i have seen, here and in person, is that they both enjoy a "lively" conversation and by posting on a two way platform, they are well aware of what may ensue Wink

and whether or not you agree with him, i would not lump michaels posts in the catagory of "noise"

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  DougB on Wed Mar 16, 2016 4:16 pm

MichaelS wrote:
DougB wrote:Oh my we seem to have slipped and fallen right into the "pot".  Some pick us up and return us to polite discussion ON the subjects.


Doug

It's pretty hard to have a discussion on anything if no one is willing to discuss.

Michael I have read your postings since you began posting. There are germs of value in them, but your approach leaves much to be desired. I much prefer to read Arthur's and Walter's discussions with minimal interference from us who have great ideas but little to base them on. Keep posting as you, and others, will strike a nerve then it's off to never never land.

Look forward to your next expose.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Richard S on Wed Mar 16, 2016 4:35 pm

Mike

I have some sympathy for the points you've made.

I thought your question about the relative naturalism of different tree images for example was very interesting (as was Walters reply). However I was reluctant to post a response for a number of reasons.

Unlike yourself I don't come to this discussion with years of bonsai experience behind me and unlike some others I have no art education or training. In fact, prior to this thread I hadn't really thought about most of these things before so I don't have a preconceived opinion either. As a result anything I do say pretty much amounts to thinking out loud!

I'm acutely aware of being a minnow who is trying to swim with some very big fish in this discussion and don't want to make more of a fool of myself than is strictly necessary.  

Having said that I don't mind subjecting my opinions to the criticism of a web forum once I'm sure that I actually agree with myself but I do have to form those opinion first.

Anyway, stick with it. I'm sure there is more worthwhile discussion to come.

Regards

Richard

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  M. Frary on Thu Mar 17, 2016 2:05 am

Richard S wrote:Mike

I have some sympathy for the points you've made.

I thought your question about the relative naturalism of different tree images for example was very interesting (as was Walters reply). However I was reluctant to post a response for a number of reasons.

Unlike yourself I don't come to this discussion with years of bonsai experience behind me and unlike some others I have no art education or training. In fact, prior to this thread I hadn't really thought about most of these things before so I don't have a preconceived opinion either. As a result anything I do say pretty much amounts to thinking out loud!

I'm acutely aware of being a minnow who is trying to swim with some very big fish in this discussion and don't want to make more of a fool of myself than is strictly necessary.  

Having said that I don't mind subjecting my opinions to the criticism of a web forum once I'm sure that I actually agree with myself but I do have to form those opinion first.

Anyway, stick with it. I'm sure there is more worthwhile discussion to come.

Regards

Richard
Your opinion matters.
And remember,little fish or big fish,we all put our pants on the same way.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Thu Mar 17, 2016 11:33 am

M. Frary wrote: And remember,little fish or big fish,we all put our pants on the same way.

pants ?!?!?
DAMN... i just KNEW i was forgetting something this morning when i left for work Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed








(no silence to improve upon or not, so what the hell... Wink )

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Walter Pall on Thu Mar 17, 2016 1:25 pm

I was asked to anser a few questions. I think they fit right into the general theme of this thread. Away from the noise, back to the issue.


Questionnaire about American Bonsai Movement

answered by Walter Pall

I was asked by the Denver bonsai folks to answer the questions below. So here it is. Don’t call me opinionated if you ask my opinion. Don’t take these as facts, they are just opinions of a European who spent more than tree years in America, spread over more than 60 trips, who has seen 40 states and met thousands of bonsai folks in the USA.

How would you define the American Bonsai Movement and how does it differ from the established Japanese approach to the art form.

American Bonsai movement is not quite here yet. I can see some signs that it is coming. The general bonsai scene is very much into a Japanese mode of doing bonsai. Many actually do want to practice a Japanese art form many don’t care about Japanese art and think they are doing just bonsai. Well, they do bonsai the Japanese way, or rather what they were led to believe is THE Japanese way. John Naka And Yuji Yoshimura were both trained in Japan around the 1950ies to 60ies. They came back to America and influenced the American scene (and also the European one) heavily up to today. In their ground braking books they showed basically what they had learned in Japan. And this was state of the art of the 1960ies. Things have changed in japan since then, but Americans by and large still do what they were taught. And this is a retro. Nothing against retro. Everybody can do what they like. They should know, however, that it is a retro - also called ‘Neoclassical Bonsai Style’. Modern bonsai nowadays is becoming mainstream in Japan (in Europe it is since 20 years). Only since a few years this is also visible in America. But this is not American Bonsai, it is modern Japanese bonsai in America. Many young folks have grasped quickly that there is something new to jump onto. These young folks will change the scene in the USA dramatically within the next decade, I believe. Why am I so sure. Well, this exact scenario has happened in Europe in the past twenty years - for the same reasons.

Japanese bonsai is about discipline, knowing rules, respecting rules, respecting masters, respecting the old ones, not sticking out your head, not trying to be something special, something different etc.. This has made Japan successful. But in art it is a burden. Japanese bonsai is not treated as an art form. It is a well defined craft. This is changing right now in America. In the Eastern view a good artist is one who does what he was taught so well that his master could have done it. In the Western view an artist is one who tries very hard and successfully to find something new, to be different, to excel, to be a rebel. This is the contrary of what one should do in Japan. This schizophrenic situation is causing a lot of confusion and constant pain in the bonsai world. Just go to some public bonsai forums and see for yourself. I see a gradual movement to the Western way of looking at art coming into bonsai. And this will open the door to a new world.



Can you list/discuss any horticultural practices, styles, species, exhibiting practices etc., if any that are specific to the American Bonsai Movement.

In Japan by and large the world is divided into gardeners and stylists. The gardeners prepare material, mostly from seed or cutting. The stylists then do the final styling. The finished product is sold to the general public. Almost all broadleaved trees come from this source. And so do most conifers. The trees are well developed according to the existing standards with good nebari, taper, branches in the right position etc. This leads to a great deal of uniformity though. Collected stuff is almost nonexistent with conifers and is definitely not used for broadleaved trees.

Contrary to this there are some bonsai gardeners in America but they do not produce great numbers nor do they all produce great quality. Americans are gardeners and stylists usually. Very few trees are styled and sold as finished products. Typically the American bonsaiist buys raw material and tries to style it himself. Americans go to a regular nursery and hunt for some potential bonsai material there. In the past ten or so years collected trees, namely conifers play a very important role in America. Many folks are starting to acquire the skills to handle these trees. The skills are very different from those for well established material. Slowly it leaks through that these skills are not really widely available in Japan for the sheer lack of material and one has to look at other sources for learrning. There is some import of Asian trees but they are rare and expensive. So Americans are forced to work with what they can get. Combined with the notion that one should try new ways of styling this is leading and will lead more to bonsai that will look different than Japanese ones.

The horticultural skills of Japanese are great and we have learned a lot so far from them. There is still more though. Many secrets are leaking though. The Japanese gardener wants to sell his stuff and not tell you how to grow it yourself.

Americans are forced to use more and more of their own material and form it in a special way. An American way will evolve. More and more will do modern bonsai. They will think that this is very American. Well it is state of the art modern Japanese bonsai done in America. There are a few old masters who work in a truly American style. I can think of Nick Lenz and Dan Robinson first. They are respected but there is not a great movement to follow their lead - yet. Arthur Joura at the North Carolina Arboretum is successfully propagating a naturalistic way of styling indigenous American material. The naturalistic bonsai movement finds hundreds if not thousands of new adherents in the past years in America as elsewhere. As there is no such thing as THE Japanese bonsai way there will be no one American bonsai way. There will be more ways than at present and the ways will differ from the Japanese more than now. Americans will have to learn that it is not like a religion. You do NOT have to make a permanent choice. You can do bonsai in many different ways in parallel and be happy.



At the moment the American bonsaiists have a tendency to prefer conifers over broadleaved trees. While outstanding conifer raw material is now available in world class quality broadleaved trees are not. There are a couple of folks who are very skilled in collecting the best material in the world - but it is all conifers. There is a need for someone to discover the untapped wealth of broadleaved trees. It cannot be that a country like Croatia which is smaller than New Hampshire has more collected world class broadleaved bonsai than the whole of America.

Exhibits in America are changing these days. The quality of the trees is getting much better steadily and also the quality of the way of exhibiting. Twenty years ago competition was frowned upon by and large. When awards were given just about everyone got one - if only for daring to enter. This is very American but does not create quality in my eyes while it might create happy folks. This situation is changing at the moment and I can see more and more genuine competition which will create quality.

Money plays a big role in America. It doe not so much in bonsai so far, but it will more and more. The days are over of ‘bonsai for free’. If a bonsai is judged according to impression it is best to start with material that already is very impressive - and expensive. Good trees will cost a lot more than most folks can imagine at the moment.

A great number of bonsai folks in America start their trees from scratch and are proud of it. To purchase an already developed piece of material is frowned upon in many quarters. Folks will find out that the key to have a very good bonsai one day is to start with very good material. There will always be the ones who grow bonsai from seeds and cuttings and go to normal nurseries to buy sticks. But they will become a small minority.

The American bonsai scene by and large is a hobbyists scene. A very strong professional scene will grow. It will be clear soon that hobbyists can hardly compete with this. So there will be a stronger division than at the moment.



Where do you see the American Bonsai Movement trending?



I see it trending towards quality, art, competition, pricey material, pricey bonsai. I see a whole lot of experiments coming which will lead into a few successful novelties. At the moment most would agree that Japan is leading, insiders know that bonsai is more or less dying in Japan. Europe is very strong, still growing, some Asian countries are coming up, China will eventually play an important role as soon as they find back to their roots in bonsai. America is still a bit sleeping. It is about to wake up. I believe that in twenty years America can lead the bonsai world.



Are there any thoughts, opinions or observations, apart from the above that you may have relative to this discussion?



I can see a generational development. Old folks are conservative by nature. Young folks are rebellious, by nature. The scene is still dominated by the old guard. Many of them are fundamentalists and they do not help to further new developments. But they will disappear - by nature.











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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  DougB on Thu Mar 17, 2016 3:28 pm

Thank you Walter for not forsaking us. You responses are clear and succinct as always.

Again thank you for returning us to sanity.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:22 pm

walter - i hope that most - but not all - of your predictions come true.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Tue Mar 22, 2016 4:21 am

[quote="Walter Pall"]

I can see a generational development. Old folks are conservative by nature. Young folks are rebellious, by nature. The scene is still dominated by the old guard. Many of them are fundamentalists and they do not help to further new developments. But they will disappear - by nature.

Yes and when all the new crap is pushed as far as it can go, things will return to the starting point and then change again. What has really changed in art since the 50's...not much at all. Everything that could be done has already been done. Some good, but 90% crap. Now people are painting landscapes again and buying old paintings which have never lost their value. The same will happen with bonsai. Being able to use a computer art program does not necessarily make you an artist if you can't draw. There is a super amount of crap art out there. Mainly from young people who have still had no real experiences. When I sell trees at a show, The young people go straight to the fat trunks because they're stupid. It's not their fault they are just don't know how to control their excitement. It's the free porn generation that must have everything now. More mature experienced people are going for smaller stuff of higher quality. Most of the fat trunk trees that the young people buy is crap and will always be crap. But really, the ''old guard'' that I talk to is looking for something different more than the young ones.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  M. Frary on Tue Mar 22, 2016 10:01 am

MichaelS wrote:
Walter Pall wrote:

I can see a generational development. Old folks are conservative by nature. Young folks are rebellious, by nature. The scene is still dominated by the old guard. Many of them are fundamentalists and they do not help to further new developments. But they will disappear - by nature.

Yes and when all the new crap is pushed as far as it can go, things will return to the starting point and then change again. What has really changed in art since the 50's...not much at all. Everything that could be done has already been done. Some good, but 90% crap. Now people are painting landscapes again and buying old paintings which have never lost their value. The same will happen with bonsai. Being able to use a computer art program does not necessarily make you an artist if you can't draw. There is a super amount of crap art out there. Mainly from young people who have still had no real experiences. When I sell trees at a show, The young people go straight to the fat trunks because they're stupid. It's not their fault they are just don't know how to control their excitement. It's the free porn generation that must have everything now. More mature experienced people are going for smaller stuff of higher quality. Most of the fat trunk trees that the young people buy is crap and will always be crap. But really, the ''old guard'' that I talk to is looking for something different more than the young ones.
Just sounds like the fat trunked trees you sell are crap. Why don't you sell good ones?

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  coh on Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:02 pm

Sounds like a lot of pent up anger and frustration over something!

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Tzung Tzan on Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:49 pm

I actually agree with Michael's comment. I think everything in bonsai has already been done. When you visit Japan, those with an eye for detail will notice the diversity in styles but for some apparent reason, people in the west seem to clump all Japanese artist as having one distinct style and that is of having "Japanese style" or having a "cookie cutter" style. To be honest, I haven't seen anything hugely different to what has already been done in Japan and china. For example, Dan Robinson whom I admire, correct me if I'm wrong but I notice some penjing influences. Nick lenz has some beautiful creations, for example trees wrapped around his own hand made ornaments which I admire, but is he the first to do them? I'm not too sure because I've seen people growing figtrees in Thailand with roots wrapped around ornaments like small buddhas that I was told was at least 70 years old. I've seen creatures carved onto driftwood still on trees in Indonesia. But who did what first, well who knows. I also think if the Japanese had a voice on these forums, it may give a differing perspective.

Also, I'm not so sure if the "old guards" of traditional classical bonsai have a monopoly in terms of mass preaching to the young ones. But I do notice that the young ones have the advantage of having much more information these days because of technology. All you have to do is check out the young apprentice's blogs and you will notice the way they are thinking. Sometimes on the blogs the young apprentice will tell you that "the master" wants it styled that way or the customer wants it this way, even though the Apprentice may have a differing view on a tree's styling. If the argument is having individuality of artistry, well its already there, its just in the detail. Students are influenced all over the place, whether they study in Japan or from within their community or learning from internet forums/blogs or from their local nature or even pick ideas from art galleries. But rather than being stuck on a single influence, they more or less add to their existing knowledge and influences in their own journey of individuality as they evolve and progress. It really comes down to experience, the more time and exposure you have to the art and nature, the more your own individuality and progression of tastes grows and evolves. For example, In my earlier years, I had no interest in penjing but as my taste evolved, I really started to appreciate its spontaneity and even its naturalistic crudeness. Besides, sometimes if you look close enough to the detail in an artist's work, you'll find his/her story. You can see a blend or merging of influences from all over the place which corresponds to his own experiences in his/her journey.


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  M. Frary on Tue Mar 22, 2016 4:02 pm

[quote= Shocked "coh"]Sounds like a lot of pent up anger and frustration over something![/quote]
Indeed.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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