American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:28 am

So MichaelS, what is so Drivel about Geo's post, IMO he is close to Nailing it...




If you must know,
This:..........
You finally got it!



An insinuation that up until now I didn't ''get it''. OK, Didn't get what exactly? That ''IT'' is a style? What is the IT he's talking about? Is it naturalism he is on about? Is it that I didn't get that it was a style? After more than 30 years practicing and studying every aspect of bonsai on a daily basis I finally ''get'' it now?  ....Complete nonsense.
 

And this:.........
That is what ALL of us do.We manipulate.



Maybe it's that he thinks I finally ''get''  that we all manipulate the trees we work on according to our own personal subjective tastes?


Or this little gem:...........
Then you stand around and look for all the manipulations.

So now it is wrong for me to look for features in a bonsai which suggest that it has been artificially manipulated and work on ways to conceal it?    I've never heard such utterly ignorant crap.

And the piece de resistance:..............



Give me patience with these walls of text:because,for my sins,I suppose,I am compelled to actually read them!

Are words necessary? I think not.

So then, tell me Bolero, what has he ''nailed'' exactly??



We are all entitled to our Opinions and to post them if appropriate, you included, but why so Harsh ???   and lacking a comprehension of his Post...

Harshness given, harshness given back.

What did I fail to comprehend in his post?


It is the discussion of these subjects and various viewpoints put forward (agreed upon or not) that interests me not waffle. (especially when directed at me) Perhaps I should discontinue posting my observations due to a general failure of comprehension?

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Fri Mar 04, 2016 4:56 am

beer city snake wrote:


and sorry michael, but i gotta agree with bolero... your reply was fair dinkum dick-ish Rolling Eyes

after all, theres plenty of drivel being posted on this thread (yourself included...




Oh please Kevin, no need to apologize. You could make belts from my skin. However, if you could direct me toward MY drivel so I may elucidate or rectify......

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Response to MichaelS

Post  Bolero on Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:30 am

MichaelS, this is my last response to this subject, I don't want to demean the Forum with personal attacks and response's.......

MichaelS, you are way too sensitive & taking Geo's comments way too seriously...

MichaelS, you are one of the, IMO, better poster's here with a lot to offer and I enjoy your Post's, very informative.

MichaelS, by "Nailing it" Geo fairly well described the average Hobbiest Bonsai Gardner, IMO...

So MichaelS, back it off, have a cool one....

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:10 pm

MichaelS wrote:Oh please Kevin, no need to apologize. You could make belts from my skin. However, if you could direct me toward MY drivel so I may elucidate or rectify......

i just find gain-saying and dead horse flaying to be drivel...
(admittedly "drivel" being not the best descriptor for that)

other than that, i again agree with bolero in that you have a lot to offer...
i just wish it didnt take reams of pages for us to "get it" Wink

IM(not so)HO, academia is the scourge of art and creativity...

too many words begin to wear down the medium
too much structure only builds boxes
too many classifications are stifling
labels are for products




man-o-man but spring cant get to this part of my hemisphere quick enough !   sunny

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  AlainK on Fri Mar 04, 2016 6:05 pm

The tree.

The world around.

A samurai, a serf, a slave, a freeman, a pizza man, a broccoli, or even a broccolistic ?...

Does the tree look the same for a Texas ranger as it does for a Syrian refugee ?

Is this the tree that you saw as a child when in winter the snow covered and sometimes broke the branches ? Is it the centuries-old olive that died many times and was born again and was uprooted and taken to a bobo's patio where it will die in a couple of years ?

I'm definitely on the hobo's side. I wish I will keep on travelling, seeing new trees, different trees from a crack in the wagon, expanding my horizon...




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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  geo on Fri Mar 04, 2016 7:05 pm

Thanks for that,AlainK.Not embarrassed to say that I wept.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  AlainK on Fri Mar 04, 2016 8:20 pm

Actually, I'm going to work on my trees now. Different trees, different mood. And I really don't care a ficus

How I hate the videos with that cheesy, depressing, stale "Oriental music", boing, boing Evil or Very Mad I much prefer getting back to 1984 for instance


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  AlainK on Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:32 pm

Wabi-Sabi:

How does an individual picture a tree ? What does that mean to him/her, how does that relate to his/her own story, and how or why does it relate to the rest of humankind ?...


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  AlainK on Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:52 pm

And what kind of "bonsai" will you admire when listening to :



What matters ? Style ? Feeling ? Words ?

"The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils."

The Merchant of Venice (V, i, 83-85)

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:22 am



MichaelS, this is my last response to this subject, I don't want to demean the Forum with personal attacks and response's.......

good.

MichaelS, you are way too sensitive & taking Geo's comments way too seriously...

no

MichaelS, you are one of the, IMO, better poster's here with a lot to offer and I enjoy your Post's, very informative.

cheers

MichaelS, by "Nailing it" Geo fairly well described the average Hobbiest Bonsai Gardner, IMO...

no

So MichaelS, back it off, have a cool one....


lol!


Last edited by MichaelS on Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:28 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:24 am


too many words begin to wear down the medium
too much structure only builds boxes
too many classifications are stifling
labels are for products

yes

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  M. Frary on Sat Mar 05, 2016 4:50 am

MichaelS wrote:
geo wrote:"Many of the ''naturalistic'' styled trees which have been displayed show just as many signs of being manipulated by human hands than traditional styles. Sometimes even more."

You finally got it! It is a STYLE!That is what ALL of us do.We manipulate.Then you stand around and look for all the manipulations. Give me patience with these walls of text:because,for my sins,I suppose,I am compelled to actually read them!

What a load of unhelpful drivel. You have no idea what you're talking about. Go read a book or something.
I jdidnt even understand the post either. But then Geo thinks I'm stupid. He has a stupid meter you know.
Look at me. Commenting on comments about comments on a thread where the 2 main posters don't comment much about the comments made by most of the commentators!
WaHoo!

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RE: five or six pages back...

Post  Dave Leppo on Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:16 pm

It is my impression that this:

reminds me of this:


It is admirable as a bonsai, but it doesn't remind me of a tree.  Sorry for picking an old scab, but I didn't have time to find an example before, and I can't keep my mouth shut when I probably should.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:13 pm

M. Frary wrote:  Look at me. Commenting on comments about comments on a thread where the 2 main posters don't comment much about the comments made by most of the commentators!

you noticed that too ? lol!

elephant elephant

monkey monkey monkey monkey monkey monkey monkey
monkey monkey monkey monkey monkey monkey monkey
monkey monkey monkey monkey monkey monkey monkey


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:16 pm

dave - i sorta agree...

i believe there can be such a thing as too much ramification

like you said - admirable (in the skillz), but...


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  fiona on Sat Mar 05, 2016 7:09 pm

Alain,

I am sure that even a song about runny porridge might inspire something.

And I shall tell Jimmy that you are a staunch fan the next time I see him.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Richard S on Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:14 pm

Dave

I'm glad you've returned to the question of Mike's Korean Hornbeam because I'm a little surprised it didn't generate more discussion first time around.

My initial impression of the tree was that it isn't very naturalistic at all. Having now had some time to think about it though I realise that this opinion simply reflects the fact that I had adopted a very objective and literalist approach to the subject. On reflection, I realise that there is also a more subjective way of assessing naturalism in bonsai and in truth any meaningful consideration of the style would have to consider both aspects.

Which is the more important might also be an interesting question but unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) I don't currently have the time to expand this point.

If I succeed in condensing these rather abstract thoughts into a coherent post I will share them with you later. Which I'm sure is something that those who think there's already too much philosophising going on in this post will look forward to!

Regards

Richard

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:47 am

Dave Leppo wrote:It is my impression that this:

reminds me of this:


It is admirable as a bonsai, but it doesn't remind me of a tree.  Sorry for picking an old scab, but I didn't have time to find an example before, and I can't keep my mouth shut when I probably should.
So you're suggesting that all that was achieved after 5 decades of work is a shrub. Can I suggest that you look a little deeper?

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  M. Frary on Sun Mar 06, 2016 6:34 am

[quote="beer city snake"]
M. Frary wrote:  Look at me. Commenting on comments about comments on a thread where the 2 main posters don't comment much about the comments made by most of the commentators!

you noticed that too ?   lol!

Hard not to Kevin.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  fredman1 on Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:42 am

M. Frary wrote:  Look at me. Commenting on comments about comments on a thread where the 2 main posters don't comment much about the comments made by most of the commentators!

Classic !!!
What can I say but..... No comment  Very Happy

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  M. Frary on Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:28 pm

fredman1 wrote:
M. Frary wrote:  Look at me. Commenting on comments about comments on a thread where the 2 main posters don't comment much about the comments made by most of the commentators!

Classic !!!
What can I say but..... No comment  Very Happy
Threads like this one make me feel small and so unimportant. Like a little ant scurrying around underfoot.
I was thinking of posting something controversial like.
WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS TALK ABOUT JAPANESE BONSAI VERSUS NATURALISTIC BONSAI MATTER? IT'S ALL BONSAI BY GOD! CHINESE,EUPOPEAN,AMERICAN,MEXICAN,JAPANESE. THEY ARE ALL SMALL TREES IN POTS. MOST ARE GROWING IN BACK YARDS.
I'LL GO ONE FURTHER AND CALL MINE MICHIGAN STYLE. WHO HAS THOSE HUH? OR MIO STYLE.
IN THE END ALL OF THESE TREES IN THIS THREAD ARE BONSAI. SOME GOOD SOME BAD SOME EXCELLENT. BUT ALL OF THEM ARE BONSAI! PLAIN AND SIMPLE.
Ahhhhh. That felt wonderful!

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  JimLewis on Sun Mar 06, 2016 4:18 pm

We can all cheer up. If "my" trees are any example, spring has sprung and we can get back to work on ramifying our trees instead of our thoughts; as this LONG thread exemplifies, we've over ramified here to the Nth degree to {lately} no perceivable benefit -- Not to mention our gross missuse of the apostrophe in every inconceivable way!

I say "my" trees (NOTE: no aprostrophe in trees.) because I have very few left now; most trees have found or are finding new homes -- including many of my favorites -- maple raft, pear, Chinese elm, and 15-20 others. Ditto pots. I hope the new owners will keep you all up to date on photographic progress (i.e. improvements). I guess I might still have 12 trees on my tables.

The point (FINALLY!) is that you nawthuners soon will have lots of green popping up on your tees, too and -- HOPEFULLY -- you will be too busy to "write".

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Mar 07, 2016 2:23 am

JimLewis wrote: The point (FINALLY!) is that you nawthuners soon will have lots of green popping up on your tees, too and -- HOPEFULLY -- you will be too busy to "write".

amen !

i spent the weekend snowboarding... got home today about 2pm... saw spring hanging around my yard...
spent the rest of the day reintroducing a garage fulla dormant trees to a peak of the light of day !

good to see a post in this fray from you, jim... you are often in my thoughts and i always hope the best for you.
i hope you are as well as can be expected... or preferably better.

and mike frary !!!
YEAH MAN !!!

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  geo on Mon Mar 07, 2016 5:08 am

May i add my best wishes for you,Mr.Lewis.Sorry for any disruption I may have caused.

George.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Walter Pall on Mon Mar 07, 2016 2:24 pm

Hello Arthur,

Arthur Joura wrote:I think the inclination to reconnect to nature (excluding the uncomfortable parts where we get eaten by other creatures or die from exposure to the elements) is certainly being expressed by people doing bonsai, but in varying degrees of consciousness from person to person.

I think so too. I find that folks who live in cities and especially those who never lived in the countryside have a very romantic view of nature and bonsai. Often they are over-idealizing nature – not seeing how ugly and brutal nature can also be.

Arthur Joura wrote:It is worth noting that there is a distinct difference between Classical, Neoclassical and Modern bonsai styles on the one hand, and Naturalistic bonsai on the other, as regards the relationship between the human being and the subject plant. In all cases the human assumes the superior position in the relationship. In the classical, neoclassical and modern styles, however, the human domination of nature is front and center in the concept, with abstraction firmly winning out over any inclination toward messy realism. Naturalistic style is predicated on the observation of nature and there is conscious effort to convey as much as possible of what has been observed. Naturalistic bonsai still involves manipulation of the plant by a human, it is still ultimately an abstraction of nature, but within that style of work the human consciously tries to be on a more balanced plane with the natural world. The bonsai naturalist seeks to learn more about the ways of trees in nature and have that knowledge inform the design of his/her trees in pots. In the other styles, there is a relatively small pool of per-determined, acceptable forms - templates, if you will - and the grower's objective is to mold the material of the plant into one of them. Naturalistic bonsai is more free-form, intuitive and emotional. Classical, Neoclassical and Modern bonsai are more clearly defined, lend themselves well to standardization and bonsai when done in these styles is more of an intellectual pursuit. True, the deadwood component of modern bonsai tends toward the more free-form, intuitive mode, but the desired look is one of fantasy and not of nature (plus it apparently needs to be clean and neat and really, really white.)

Great, this is music in my ears. You got it.

Arthur Joura wrote:
Richard S wrote:
Anyway, it seems to me that the ultimate objective of all art is to express something of the emotional relationship between the artist and their subject. But what, in bonsai terms, is the subject?

The obvious and intuitive answer of course is trees, which to some extent I suppose must be true but I think that for most of us it goes a little deeper than that.

I would argue that the tree is in fact the medium not the subject! The subject is in fact nature or perhaps even man's relationship with nature...

Then again, perhaps for some the subject isn't Nature or Trees? Perhaps it's Orientalism or Japanese art & culture?...

I think Richard was feeling his way around this topic at the time, because what he wrote and the way he wrote it indicate a good deal of doubt in his mind. But I have few doubts about this any more. I have been thinking about it for more than 20 years now, and I think at this point the picture has come mostly into focus for me.

In bonsai, plants (typically trees, but also shrubs, vines and herbaceous species) are the medium. The subject is not nature by itself but the human relationship to it. Those many bonsai practitioners who favor imitation of the Classical style, a Japanese construct, may very well be expressing what is for them a more broad appreciation of Japanese art and culture. I shy away from the term "Orientalism" because it has shadings of cultural insult in its lumping together of a broad swath of diverse peoples from a vast area, but the term has some legitimacy in this application. Westerners who do Neoclassical bonsai are indeed engaging in a form of Orientalism, although I think there are quite a few who do it unknowingly. At the very least, neoclassicists are parroting the view of the human relationship with nature that held sway in Japan in the middle of the 20th century. It is often said that Japanese culture shows a close affinity for nature and I would not argue against it, but it seems to me that their traditional concept of nature is largely one of keeping it under tight control. Classical, and by extension neoclassical, bonsai presents a view of nature that has been cleaned up and made more comforting and understandable through the agency of coherent organization.

Bonsai modernists, on the other hand, are still expressing themselves through a style that had its origin in Japan, although I think Orientalism plays a much less significant role in this case. I like the term "Modern" for this style! Modernism in its original construction, which had nothing to do with bonsai, is a philosophy that arose in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is a product of industrialism and technology, the explosion of human population and the growth of cities. In my conception of it, modernism is a completely human-centric ideal. Modern bonsai takes the neatly organized and smoothed out view of nature embodied by classical and neoclassical bonsai and heightens it to an extreme. It is no longer a matter of concern that a bonsai should even faintly resemble a tree in nature. Instead, we have a vision of trees as reinvented by the human mind, new and improved! Modern style bonsai takes the medium of plants and uses it to express the human fascination with our own ability to subjugate nature an remake the world in our own image.

Wow! I am moved to read all this. We have come a long way in the past fifteen or so years. I remember well that my first writings were a bit clumsy about this as the idea was so new and someone had to try to pout it in words. Now this sounds so smooth and philosophical – really sophisticated.


Arthur Joura wrote:In the meantime, I wonder - what is your motivation for doing bonsai? I know it is not primarily for the sake of making money, because I see no signs in you of a person under financial duress. You are retired from your original profession after what was apparently a successful career, and you could just as well have whiled away your waning years playing golf. Your enormous need for the spotlight might be seen as a motivating factor, but you are talented enough that you might have projected yourself out into the world in some other line of endeavor. You might have gone into politics and run for Chancellor of Germany, for example. But instead you chose to design little trees. Why, Walter?

Yea! Chancellor of Germany. Why not President of the USA? The time has come for all sorts of outsiders, for lateral thinkers, for rebels, for folks who stir the pot! Yes, indeed I seem to be one of them. But Chancellor? This would be the ultimate punishment.

Why am I doing bonsai? Ask my psychiatrist. Sigmund Freud was quoted telling the story of someone having asked him to help an obviously lunatic great artist. He said 'sure I could help him, but then he would stop to be a great artist'.

It takes really a lot of insanity to do what I did. Around 25 year s ago I left a very well paid high level job in an highly reputed industry to be poor from then on, to be a bonsai gardener who tries to be an artist. Well in a nutshell: my wife is still with me! What a great wife to have!

When I was very young I remember that frequently art was an important subject at the family breakfast table. Many of my relatives were some sort of artist: theater actor, singer, poet, composer (the sister of Schubert is one of my ancestors), lunatics everywhere. On both sides, father and mother. One of these sticks out – my grandfather, the father of my mother. He was a professional painter, making a living painting people and landscapes. I have never met the man as he died one day after my birthday as a soldier of the German Reich. What I understood was that he HAD to paint in the German Realistic Style. AH had only one field where he was actually trained professionally. This was painting. He failed to ever be able to make a living as painter. His education and frame of mind were backwards looking, holding on to the thinking of before the beginning of the 20th century - old-fashioned realistic, contrived way of doing the art. When he had made a career as Chancellor (here we are again) he insisted in ruling the way painting had to be done in Germany. At one point there was the infamous burning of Degenerated Art. Hundreds of great modern paintings were burned in public to show to the world what was good and what was bad art. My grandfather somehow had suffered form the fact that extreme fundamentalists had commanded him to paint in a certain way to be able to make a living while his heart was more with modern ways. He believed much in the freedom of artists – which did not happen in his world. Our family believed that artists not only had the right but the duty to be free, to go new ways, to do the unthinkable, to think outside the box.
I definitely wanted to become an artist. While I had lots of talents in many fields it was painting that intrigued me a lot.
When I was around 14 my father had a long talk to me. He was a very successful famous theater actor at the 'best German speaking Theater' before the war and never returned afterwards. He made it clear that about the worst profession I could choose was some sort of artist. They do not make many to feed a family. And the art world is full of bitterness, of envious folks who try to ruin you as soon as you stick your head out above them. An artist has to prostitute himself to be successful. How right my father was! So the decision was to NOT become an artist and choose some honest profession instead.
The other thing I remember very well is that we were keen gardeners after the war. It was normal for folks who had a garden to grow vegetables to feed a family at that time. But in addition we had what I remember as the most affluent flower garden in town. I remember folks walking by never missed to stop and look over our fence to see the wonders. So gardening in every form was one of my favorite pastimes and interest too. But it was made clear to me that gardening was certainly not a profession that a gifted person like me should ever wish to do for serious other than as hobby.
Another thing that I remember well is the family's urge to excel. The best garden in the district, the best skier in the country – no, in the world. I remember my father saying in all earnest 'WE don't do it below world champion'. And all of my sisters became world class skiers, one got an Olympic gold medal in downhill racing. In Austria (by that time Austria was again a self sufficient country, not wanting to have anything to do with Germany) this is more than becoming Pope. So poor little me, while I was the better skier I was a male.

Many years later I had made a career in an honest field, being very well able to feed a family. The future looked bright - from outside. But I was not really happy.
And then I found bonsai around the year 1979. When I understood what it was about I realized that bonsai was invented just for me. A very complex very demanding art form combined with very high level gardening skill required. And it was peaceful, good for a person who likes to work alone, healthy, not costing much, no need to fight the world, n o need to prostitute myself. This because I managed to fix it in such a way that I do not depend on making money with it – while I, of course, will always take some fee because one cannot have enough trees or pots. And then I see the world on someone else's budget. There are worse professions around.

I do bonsai because I have to. I have some ideas why that is so, but maybe I am wrong. I only know that it is my life and it will not cease to be. Chancellor!!! What a ridiculous idea. A chancellor would have almost no time for bonsai! Life is possible without bonsai, I admit – but it would make no sense.

And my father was right!


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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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