Southern Spring Show

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Southern Spring Show

Post  AJ on Fri Mar 06, 2009 6:46 pm

The annual Southern Spring Home and Garden Show is being held right now in Charlotte, NC. Every year there is a bonsai display provided by the Bonsai Society of the Carolinas, which is also located in Charlotte. Here are a couple of pictures of what the general display looks like:






As you can see, there is a series of alcoves, each containing a display designed by the person showing the bonsai. It makes for a very nice, clean looking presentation. There is also a special step-by-step "how to" display, a video monitor showing a bonsai educational program, and visitors are actively engaged by club members who are there at all times throughout the show. The public is always favorably impressed. It's a good vehicle for promoting bonsai, and I'm grateful to the BSC for making it happen every year.

For me personally, the displays feature too much of the heavy handed, overt orientalism that is typical of most bonsai displays in places outside of Asia. I don't hold that against the people who built the displays, because that is how most westerners who do bonsai want to do it, and of course the general public thinks orientalism is what bonsai is all about.

There were some people who attempted to do something other with their displays. Here's a nice arrangement by Ken Duncan, a frequent contributer to the IBC (The usual apologies for the less than optimal quality of these images; no tripod, lighting problems, etc. They at least give an idea of what the displays look like):



The tree is a Willow-leaf Ficus. I like Ken's use of the framed horizontal moon and cloud painting.


Here's a Hinoki Falsecypress by Rusty Harris:



The tree needs some more development, especially in the top (Rusty knows this), but I like what he did with the stands under the tree and the accent.



Here's a Chinese Elm by Randy Clark, of the Bonsai Learning Center in Charlotte:



Yeah, I know. Statuary in a bonsai planting makes some people go crazy, but I don't think it's a bad thing. I don't choose to do it, personally, but I've seen it look OK in other people's bonsai. I like the naturalistic feel of the elm, too.

Finally, here's a real eye-catching display by John Geanangel:



I've seen this Shimpaku Juniper several times over the years, and it looks better each time. I think it may have a new front since I saw it last, and the level of overall refinement in all parts of this bonsai is an impressive thing to see. In person, that is; the photograph really doesn't do it justice.

Every year the public gets to vote for their favorite tree, and an award is given. My bet is that John's tree will win. But with the public voting, you never know.

AJ
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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  JimLewis on Fri Mar 06, 2009 7:52 pm

Hmmm. I need to get on their mailing list. Or Ken needs to use our Announcements forum (HINT).

Ken and John can always be counted on for some very nice trees. I'd sure like to see the picture behind the tree in the first alcove. It looks like one of those weepy clowns. I wish someone would show that much humor with bonsai. We tend to be a serious bunch.

Thanks for the pix.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  John Quinn on Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:54 am

I really like John G.'s display!

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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  Rusty Harris on Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:10 am

Thanks AJ, for the compliment on my display. John G. has the best showing in the exhibit. If it doesn't win the peoples choice award, well, it should have. I will know tomorrow which exhibitor won when I fulfill my "tree sitter" duties at the display.

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Good job

Post  Rob Kempinski on Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:18 am

Nice showing guys.
Must of been a lot of work to build all those alcoves.

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Thanks

Post  jgeanangel on Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:19 pm

Thanks for the write up and kind words Arthur! Jim, the picture you are referring to is Koi. I would be interested in hearing what folks have to say about photos in the background of Ken's dispay and mine... here are the actual images that were used.







Thanks for your feedback,
John

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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  JimLewis on Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:10 pm

Can't say much.

But how about: LOVELY!

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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And the winner is..............

Post  Rusty Harris on Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:17 am

The Peoples Choice award goes to the Chinese Elm by Randy Clark, of the Bonsai Learning Center in Charlotte.

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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  Rusty Harris on Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:31 am

jgeanangel wrote: I would be interested in hearing what folks have to say about photos in the background of Ken's dispay and mine.


Thanks for your feedback,
John

John,
The picture in the background of your display was often commented on by the general public as very "eye catching", "stunning", and a wonderful accompaniment to your tree and display, all in all your exhibit was a hit with the Spring Show patrons.You may also be interested to know that the Ikebana folks(they were near our spot) found your display the most pleasing and artistic. Ken's picture was also very, very popular with those viewing the display, and my wife called it "the best" of all the other pictures or scrolls.

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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  AJ on Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:54 am

John - While I recognized that the image in your display was a photograph, I thought the one in Ken's was a painting. I thought both of them looked great and worked well in helping to create the feeling of the two displays. I can't think of anything that matters more than that. I'd like to say that the way the images were distorted, whether by intention or coincidently through the process of enlarging, was rather artistic, but maybe it's best not to go there.

And that reminds me of a story I heard somewhere. A young acolyte was with his old mentor one evening and they were watching the moon rise through the clouds. The acolyte said, "Wise one, is not the rising moon a manifestation of God's consciousness?" The elder winced and answered, "It is - but it's a shame to say so!"

AJ
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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  Carolee on Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:56 pm

Thank you for sharing AJ! As someone who enjoys 'moon bathing' I very much like Ken's use of Moon/Cloud Painting. Overall the dsplays you shared are all wonderful, and I like displaying the trees in this manner. I think Randy's display and his winning of the People's Choice Award is indicative of the feelings a more Penjing arrangement creates in the public. While the public is always wowed by the traditional Japanese Bonsai trees, Randy's composition (and Penjing) gives the viewers a better sense of the tree's place in the world. I remember a forest arrangement at the 2005 WBC: magestic spruce with hills and a pathway. When I looked at it, I felt like a person actually walking along that path. No other arrangement has created that kind of feeling in me. I love lookig at Bonsai, and I am always wowed by good ones. As I become more involved in the techniques and creativity of Bonsai, I look at the trees more critically, but it doesn't change my enjoyment of the tree. However, a good Penjing still evokes a feeling in me that doesn't compare. Perhaps I am still too much 'public' and not a bonsai enthusiast.

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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  Norma on Sun Mar 08, 2009 5:36 pm

Thanks for showing us a wonderfully eclectic show. Randy Clark is a former leader in our Minnesota Bonsai Society and knows how to expertly show a bonsai to please his audience. It doesn't surprise me that he won the "People's Choice Award" for the public love figures that show the scale of the bonsai. Good work ,Randy !!

A question.... Is not the tree a seiju elm rather than chinese?

Norma

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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  Dale Cochoy on Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:43 pm

Nice displays guys!

Rusty,
You may not have won the peoples choice award...
but,
I simply CANNOT fault your choice of pots! Laughing

Dale

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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  ogi uyehara on Tue Mar 10, 2009 2:32 am

Very nice!!! Very Neat!!!

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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  AJ on Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:13 am

The Southern Spring Show is history now, and all the bonsai displays have been taken apart. I want to wrap up though by responding to some of the later posts.

Dale - I took note of the pot that Rusty's tree was in, but I didn't know it was one of yours. Nice work!

Norma - I don't think Randy's tree was a Seiju. I could be wrong about it, but I think the leaves looked small because they had only recently emerged.
So, you knew Randy back in his Minnesota days. Brace yourself for a shock. Here's how he looks now:



Actually, I think this picture is fron '02. He looks even older now. Back then he could still speak in complete sentences and didn't drool so much, but he went down hill pretty quickly. Still, if you give him a pair of scissors and aim him at a tree, he will more often than not do a reasonable job of it.

Actually, Randy Clark is a well respected and much appreciated mainstay of the bonsai scene in these parts, as I'm sure he was up in Minnesota back in the last century. Randy was responsible for coordinating all of the bonsai displays at the Spring Show, a big job which he handled uncomplainingly, with real professionalism. I'm glad his tree won the People's Choice award because he deserves at least that much recognition for all he does for bonsai in North Carolina. And the fact that he was passing out dollar bills to little kids to have them stuff the ballot box is beside the point.

Carolee - I agree with much of what you say. I wouldn't, however, choose to use the word "penjing" to describe Randy's bonsai. While a more naturalistic form of design and the use of statuary within the planting are sometimes found in penjing work, those things by themselves don't make penjing. Certainly, Randy's piece shows a Chinese influence, and he owes a tip of the hat to Mr. Brook Zhao in particular, but that doesn't make it penjing, either. I don't care to get into a war of words about this (even if it meant this post would probably end up getting 1,800+ views), but I'll offer my opinion for your consideration. I would call Randy's bonsai a "tray landscape". Whereas a typical bonsai, stripped down to its basic components, might be described as a tree, or multiple trees of a the same species, in a pot, with perhaps a ground cover of moss, a tray landscape includes more elements. Trees of different species, shrubs, herbaceous plants, stones and statuary, are some of the elements that might be found in a tray landscape. One way to think of it is to say that tray landscapes contain more information. They are less suggestive than bonsai typically are. They are more descriptive. I think that is why the public reacts so favorably to them - the greater amount of information they contain makes them easier to understand. I don't say that in a denigrating way, because I like them a lot, too. To me, Randy's planting shows a scene - a big, old deciduous tree in field, up on a gentle rise, with a horse coming up to it that is turning its head to nip at a black fly that's biting his rump. It's very picturesque. If he had shown the same tree in a smaller container, without the horse, it would be a simple informal upright bonsai. I might have imagined the rest of the scene just the way it was actually presented, or I might have imagined some other scene that included that tree. I might do that because I'm familiar with viewing bonsai, but someone who isn't might look, see what they see, yawn and move on to the next display. Create a more descriptive scene, put a horsey statue in there, and even someone who isn't familiar with the need for imagination when looking at bonsai will be engaged.

AJ
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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  jgeanangel on Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:14 pm

Well said AJ! I was very honored by the positive comments about my display from various bonsai folks, but I knew that it would not be viewed with the same "eye" by the general public. This is only the second year I have participated in this show and this is the second year that a "pejing-influenced" composition won the people choice award. Last year Ken's C. Elm tray landscape was selected. Another splendid planting but again, like Randy's, offers the viewer a more complete picture than a more standard bonsai might.

Thanks need to go to Randy for another job well done!!

John

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Re: Southern Spring Show

Post  Jerry Meislik on Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:43 pm

Lovely work on both the displays and the trees.
Very, very impressive.
Congratulations all on masterful work.
Jerry
www.bonsaihunk.us

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