NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

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NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:08 pm

The (USA) National Bonsai & Penjing Museum has a temporary exhibit of suiseki displayed Feb 28 – Mar 29 (hours: 10 – 4) in its Special Exhibits Wing titled, Suiseki from the Keystone State. The "Museum Events Calendar" describes the exhibit:
Suiseki are viewing stones in the tradition of scenic landscape stones from Japan. This exhibit will feature stones from the rivers and hills of Pennsylvania, collected by long-time suiseki enthusiasts Jim Hayes and Sean Smith.
Here is a mini-poster introduction seen at the exhibit:


Last edited by Chris Cochrane on Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:30 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:19 pm

Stones on the first of three long display tables:

First stone...


Suiban bottom revealed...


..... Closer view

Another stone at close view...


Sean's stone displayed previoiusly at the Meihinten...


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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:34 pm

Red suiban display...


Blue tray; vertical landscape...


Note bird figurines above waterpool of "bog-iron suiseki"...


..... Birds... :-)

Last stone on first table...


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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:46 pm

First stone on middle (of three) tables. This is an important position in the display space for highlighting a good stone which has visual movement toward-the-right!


..... Closer...

..... ..... Closer, yet...

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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:26 pm

Does this shallow doban's dimensions affects stone size & placement differently than trays with length no more than twice their width?


A stone of relatively plain material with interesting contour...


Is this tray a bit large, too small or about-right in size for the stone it holds? It seems an interesting example for discussion.


Very engaging when viewed closely...


I apologize for the blur in this photo (my only shot)... Every stone is SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING seen in-real-life at the exhibit. PLEASE visit if you can...


An unexpected stand. Does it open expression to place a stone directly upon a board or stand?

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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:44 pm

Having passed the midpoint of the exhibit, I failed to comment (or to read the tags) as the Museum was about to close. I imagine they add tremendously to appreciation, but just looking is good, too. More stones on the middle table moving right...

A nice cove or river mouth. This would be an extremely rare stone without cutting, so is arguably a better choice for cutting than a mountain stone with a plain footprint.


..... Detail...

How would you place this stone in a tray? Consider the tray size & space allowed on each side, what variables control placement? I'll post the actual choice following discussion if no one else does.


Another figurine placed on a stone and distinctive daiza legs...
https://i84.servimg.com/u/f84/13/44/48/20/dsc00035.jpg


A waterpool suiseki...


I heard the last stone on the middle table was the first Sean collected. It is very interesting to think of Sean's road to suiseki beginning, here...


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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Morea on Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:37 pm

Dear Chris

Thank You for showing the pictures.

The "suiban bottom revealed" twinkled my eye !
It looks as if no water is used in the suiban , is that so ?
I like the presentation very much ,
thinking it without water , VERY much !

Also the wooden "pillow" like stand is inspiring !

With these ways of presentation it feels so natural.
The stone is totaly to be seen .
Although the glaze in the suiban bottom can be felt as
not so natural ......... it gives me a superb , natrural , respectful image feeling.
( Very Happy , well , i see a dark bleu sky with stars ! ( van Gogh )
Does a special glazed suiban bottom is more often used with
a stone for presentation or is it a special , 1 time image ?
Kind regards
Morea

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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:19 pm

Hi Morea... Decorative suiban bottoms are relatively common and even a glazed bottom of uniform color is satisfactory to reveal. The most interesting Japanese ceramic I've seen was a large suiban with many layers of color revealed on its bottom. This one looks fine to me; it reveals beauty of a stone that might otherwise be passed over clarifying its "coastal rock" impression.

Common guidance by Mr. Matsuura is to place a modest seating of sand on the suiban only where the stone touches it if not nearly filling the suiban with sand. My own experience is that a bed of sand protects the suiban from scratching if you are careful with a stone. If not careful, stones can & do scratch suiban glazing. The fragile seating of sand discourages tinkering once it has been arranged for an exhibit.

More common in suiban displayed in the 1960s into the 1980s was standing water-- either standing above a shallow, moderately full or near-full bed of sand covering the suiban bottom or in a suiban with no sand. Less commonly, pebbles which would not wash away could be found only under the stone allowing much of the suiban's bottom to show; at a still modest size, pebbles would not wash onto exposed parts of a suiban bottom when water is added.

An Ibigawa stone planted with bonsai is commonly placed in large, empty bronze tray for exhibition.

Is there a “pillow” under a stone? Perhaps, your reference is to the blossom-shaped board with very modest legs on which a cut-stone appears to rest. The stones image is mirrored indistinctly in the satin finish on the dark board. Boards (some with no feet & others with miniscule-to-modest feet/legs) directly under a stone were common to displays even by Nippon Suiseki Association for decades—but not in the most recent decade. In some Japanese exhibits they once rivaled daiza in popularity & fashion. One board (like one suiban) could serve individual display of a variety of stones easing costs of a separate seating for each stone. The economy & functionality expressed by their use is appealing. The ability to see the natural bottom of a stone suitable for displaying atop a board engages the viewer. The grounding a socketed board provides to a stone requiring a modest help to stand most adds pleasure of astringency to the viewing. Much feeling is expressed with less construction in the display

This morning, I've been thinking of subtle ceramic & wood expressions, Morea, and watching a neighbor storing bird seed in his cheeks...


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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:58 pm

Leading stones on the third (and last) table.

The first stone-- a natural archway (my apologies for the blur in this handheld photo)...


A tray landscape-view followed by a boat stone on a daiza...




Two more suiseki on suiban...



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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:30 pm

The last stones in the exhibit (table #3):

From Jim Hayes, a well known suiseki-- especially to admiring readers of Waiting To Be Discovered...
..... viewed without stooping...
.....
..... ..... peeking under the suiseki's front lip & admiring its profile...
...........

The last three...





..... Closer...

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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Norma on Fri Mar 20, 2009 5:44 pm

WOW.....Chris.......where do I begin !

What an amazing collection from Jim And Sean gathered from the Keystone State !! Just think, this is just the "tip" of many stones these men must own.

I hope my following comments are not misconstrued as criticizing the stones; however I would like to comment on some of the displays. As you know I struggle with what I see as good display and perhaps it would seem quite different if viewed personally rather than through photos. I will number the stones in the order you presented them.

#6... This was described as a vertical landscape in a light blue tray. The blue tray is a bit distracting and was there something about the stone that I miss in the photo?

#7....I love the display of this waterpool stone ! What is "bog-iron"?? I picture Sean and Jim with hip boots slogging through bogs; which of course is quite impossible.

#9....This is an awesome piece of jasper ! How large is the stone and did it have to be cut? I know it's difficult to find enough appropriate stands for an exhibit this large BUT with a stone this strong my impression is that the stand should not compete. I would have preferred seeing one with simple line and no filigree.

#10.... Chris, I'm not sure I understand your question about the doban. My eye sees the dimensions as perfect for this stone.

#12...I'm wondering why the owner felt it necessary to put a mat between the daiza and the stand?

#14... This mountain with two peaks and cove is wonderful. You're right (if necessary) it is better to cut a stone like this with it's intricate "shoreline".

#19... Ah hah , a raised tunnel stone.....perfect!

#21... The boat stone.....I'd rather see this stone in a long suiban with sand or water.

#25... I'm not sure what kind of landscape this stone represents but it seems too large for the tray and not buried deep enough.

#26 and 27 .....both are well displayed! The first is a perfect little duck but I am not sure about the dark figure stone....wings or sleeves ?

Thanks for the pictures ,Chris. Did you have any of the larger site? But I imagine these images should be on some NBPM website soon.

Norma

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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Sun Mar 22, 2009 5:59 pm

Hi Norma... Great questions following thoughtful viewing. I unintentionally overwrote my first thoughts following yours. I thought re-writing would provide more conciseness, but it hasn’t. I apologize for rambling…

RE' Stone #6 in the light blue suiban:
All the stones are interesting by themselves as well as as part of the exhibit as a whole. A few years ago, my thought would be to see things not expected as distractions-- but distractions are largely in the mind of the viewer & can be applied to anything not fitting an enthusiast's sense of narrow or broad inclusion. The most interesting stones for me extend a little awry of perfected expectation. This stone and its suiban extend beyond expectation. The vertically oriented stone's placement off-center in a spaciously wide tray & the single ring foot instead of separated feet asks the viewer to not rely on common technique in display. I feel the sense of flow from a dry watercourse starting in the middle of the stone & widening to flow into the plain of sand directionally flowing leftward. The stone's watercourse flows in the direction of the nicely embossed branch on the tray.

In February 2000, Jim Hayes presented a stone gift to Matsuura for which the Ragles (Larry & Nina) supplied a muted earthtone suiban by Sara Raynor. Matsuura replaced the suiban with a glazed, light blue one stating that new stone needed another suiban for better balance with its aging. When Matsuura displayed the stone in his office/home alcove for intimate viewing, it was saturated with water along with sand in the suiban. The sand was still slowly drying two hours later whereas the stonev had long since completely dried on its surface. Light blue might also be a thoughtful choice suggesting "early Spring" seasonality.


RE' Stone #7-- bog iron waterpool:
Bog iron occurs naturally, including in slab & natural bowl forms which easily accommodate plantings for bonsai & companion plants. Bog iron has been used to produce accessible low grade iron that resists rusting where more-sophisticated ore extraction and smelting were yet to be developed. There are places in the mid-Atlantic & Alabama (Birmingham area) which are well-known for large & small specimens of bog iron. Two fellows often vend pieces at Potomac Bonsai Association festivals (the next occuring the first weekend in May).

Most specimens of bog iron have areas that look freshly broken with sharp edges which is not conducive to stone appreciation. Color is typically chocolate brown but can also be seen more rusty red & less commonly, the golden orange seen in the exhibit’s stone.


RE’ Stone #9—Jasper on pierced-work stand:
My guess would be this stone is ~ 12” wide x 11” high, Norma.

Your questions sound like the questions Sudo & others in Japan would ask re’ the stand—for intimate display & arguably for exhibition, a plainer stand would allow the stone to stand-out & the attraction of the stand isn’t necessary to draw attention to or promote importance of the stone. Several would discourage placing suiseki on stands of gorgeous color, texture (including fancy-grained woods) or contour (as you note in this stands pierced apron). I love the furniture & loved the display for this important (&, at first, distantly seen) position in the exhibit but agree with your assessment as more correct by modern Japanese interpreters I respect. There is much more to consider than common present practice in choice of support.

Interesting to me are choices for what appears an obvious cut to the stone. A deeper daiza would have left me assuming the stone is not cut—especially since the stone is displayed to see below its natural waist. I very much like the low cut (atypical of the cutting choice common for stones collected from Northern California rivers) but don’t care for the thin daiza which telegraphs the stone is cut. I’ll be surprised if the stone is not cut-flat or if the owner has either left a natural or processed area on the bottom which isn’t flat. It is possible, but the daiza depth suggests otherwise.

My comment on the stone flowing rightward could be challenged. While the overall profile supports the visual flow to-the-right, moving down the stone there is a path diagonally from a high right corner to a lower left exit at the bottom of the stone’s horizontal mid-section. An option is to perceive the path as rising to the right rather than following it downward as most landscape features are viewed because of gravity affecting flow. The stone shares resonant feeling of engagement through path, texture, shadow, color & contour which is extraordinary.

Enough (perhaps, too much) comment for one post...


Last edited by Chris Cochrane on Fri Mar 27, 2009 7:14 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Fri Mar 27, 2009 3:38 pm

I see the new Keystone State Suiseki exhibit has been upload to the National Bonsai Fondation's website.

When visiting, I went through a side door and failed to see a Keystone State stone exhibited in the Museum's alcove. It is accompanied by a calligraphy scroll with a poem composed by Seiji Morimae, which begins:
It is late night, the moon is setting.
I hear the sounds of the mountains, rivers, wind....
That stone and others with comments from the Museum & owners is included on NBF's site. Scroll through the first exhibit listed, here: http://www.bonsai-nbf.org/site/exhibits.html

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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Norma on Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:06 pm

Thanks, Chris for the added information from the NBF's website.

One stone description that surprised me among several was the "animal-shaped stone" in the blue suiban. I'm trying to see the animal......is it a full body or a head coming out of the water ? I like the idea of a hippo with it's head out of the water.

Great show.....wish I were closer to DC !!

Norma

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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:08 pm

Hi Norma... Your senses are sharper than a hawks! I didn't read the tags when scurrying through the exhibit first to see & enjoy it... then, to snap photos for IBC. I obviously missed a lot. For me, a stone in a tray (even a non-traditional tray) is read first as a landscape-- though it might be a landscape which looks like a bird or animal.

For Sean, Jim or both... two of the stones in trays depict an animal (one looks like a hippo to me, too) or a bird. I'd fall back on the Edith Frankel description of early Chinese scholars seeing any animal shaped-stone as a landscape feature which resembles an animal. It has great resonance for recalling images that allowed the Chinese scholar to sense manipulation Chi/qi "spirit breath of the Universe" energy through viewing a stone of compressed landscape imagery. Interestingly, a local university is soon having a program on Chi-Lun "Breath-Resonance" as a thesis presentation of art students:
Chi-Yun, Breath Resonance in Contemporary Art: Museum Studies Seminar Exhibition
Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature
April 2 – July 12, 2009
Chi-yun (breath resonance) is the term coined by Hsieh Ho in the sixth century to represent the first law of Chinese painting. The exhibition, a continuation of the fall exhibition Chi-Yun: Breath Resonance in Far Eastern Painting, explores how this 1500-year-old phrase is expressed in contemporary art.
There will be student thesis presented on the theme & a reception at 7-9 p.m., April 1-- at the University of Richmond's Boatwright Memorial Library & Lora Robins Gallery.

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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

Post  Chris Cochrane on Fri Mar 27, 2009 7:12 pm

Continuing with Norma's discussion of individual stones...

Norma: #10...
Chris, I'm not sure I understand your question about the doban. My eye sees the dimensions as perfect for this stone.
I was not very clear or helpful with the question. My notion is that cultivated Japanese enthusiasts are aware of a suiban this shape as referring to a tanzaku "poem card." There are suiseki enthusiasts on Japan who refer to them that way. Rather than reformulate, here is my post to the Darumasan blog concerning tanzaku from about two years ago:
Poem cards were placed by team players from the Ministers of the Left and Right in Imperial court uta-awase ("poetry competitions"). Each team would have a suhama ("sandbar") that looked like a portable miniature mountain constructed of precious material on which poem cards would be added during the competition as the poem was verbally rendered for consideration. Emperor Uda (867-931) held these. Uta-awase were organized for Retired Emperor Murakami in 968 & Empress Hiroko in 1056.

The tanzaku card size of today was probably decided by a popular printer of poem cards distributed at temples in the Meiji period.

Items used in artistic display including footed stands and trays are sometimes characterized as tanzaku (in style) because of the their unusual length relative to width. An elegance related to antiquity & poetry can be implied by tanzaku-style.

For a footed display table's top, the tanzaku-style length would be more than twice the table's width, but it considered less elegant if length is greater than three times the tabletop's width.

Trays of more length than width, when very long are sometimes referenced as ichimonjibon-- a tray (bon) styled after the character for "one" (a single horizontal line). They are common for displaying and serving cups of steeped tea (sencha).
Norma: #12...
I'm wondering why the owner felt it necessary to put a mat between the daiza and the stand?
I wonder, too. There is good reason to not put a daiza directly on the cover for tatami matting, which I imagine this as emulating. The cover for tatami matting is the most common flooring for traditional reception room alcoves hondoko ("genuine place" + main alcove) where objects should be placed upon a stand, board or rigid mat upon which the object (with or without its fitted stand) sits. Since the Museum's cabinet tabletop "place" or space is much more like the tenita ("heaven board," also the name of the board covering the cabinet in wakidoko ("auxiliary, secondary place" or secondary alcove) and similar to exhibition display space (which changes a bit when covered or not covered by a felt-like cloth), there are a lot of variables to manipulate in regard to suiseki practice. A board hondoko (as typical in alcoves designed for sencha) or a board-top cabinet in a wakidoko or exhibit space allows less furniture if the display designer wishes to display directly on the board's surface. I expect this could be confusing, but it seems straightforward to me. Reviewing Nippon Suiseki Association publications as well as others, it is possible to see order in the use of architectural space that helps in simple exhibit or alcove display arrangement.

Norma: #14...
This mountain with two peaks and cove is wonderful. You're right (if necessary) it is better to cut a stone like this with it's intricate "shoreline".
Stating this over 10 years ago on threads in the VSL got me in hot water with some Northern California river collectors. For me, it was and perhaps still is "the California dilemma." I am more receptive to the cutting of a wide variety of Northern California stones, now. A new one from the prominent California Suiseki Society collector Bob Carlson has recently been accepted into the North America Viewing Stone Collection at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. Bravo & thanks, to Bob & CSS for stone community contributions.

Norma: #19...
Ah hah , a raised tunnel stone.....perfect!
If these are seen as "archways in water" (referring to youir earlier post about tunnel stones) or as natural bridges, it seems the most modest way to balance them is in placement on daiza. This daiza adds considerable height to a shallow archway by the height of wood butrusses on each side of the arch which contain fitted sockets for the stone. We imagine spaciousness surrounding a coastal rock & should not require it placed in a suiban, though suiban make very effective images for stone tunnels with higher roofs.

Norma: #21...
The boat stone.....I'd rather see this stone in a long suiban with sand or water.
The NBP Museum's Assistant Curator for Exhibits made a similar observation. I see that tanzaku allusion, again, & have seen a "Treasure Boat" stone on daiza in the reception room alcove for guests to meet prior to a Keido lesson outside Tokyo. I don't think there is anything unimagined in the daiza display, and the daiza can securely hold the stone at its best angle. The long footed table expresses open space in form similar to a suiban when the stone is placed off-center. A symmetry of placement on a footed stand is not typical but works its magic, here, ingeniously

Since the entire display space sits upon a board, placing a long shallow suiban (if that would hold the stone properly) directly on the cabinet's top would be the most astringent display if the sand were deftly flat with an even border where sand met the suiban walls-- especially the back, inside wall. That placement of sand for a long suiban requires much effort & takes time needed for mounting other stones in the exhibit. It would be easily enough accomplished by an owner placing one or two stones in an exhibit. For two enthusiasts placing a large exhibition of stones, such exactitude would be difficult to manage in a day of arrangements & individual placement.

I am still awed by the exhibit Jim Greaves planned & photographed in California to publish with an exhibit mounted in Washington (D.C.) this past year. Jim made many artistic decisions not so easily accomplished as relying on the simplicity of Japanese practice. Potomac Viewing Stone Group's three exhibit coordinators have made some decisions that were slightly altered after we painstakingly agreed upon them. The regular Museum Exhibit Curator had gone on vacation at the time.

Bill Valavanis has noted in display threads that little things in an exhibit often get changed over time, even by the forgetfulness of someone who might have made an original placement in an exhibit. Seldom are these fatal. It can present an opportunity for tweaking more feeling. After everything has been set, the exhibit coordinator's tank can be close-to-empty-- especially if a group of coordinators has disagreed and had to overcome impasses. One PVSG exhibit seemed fine until a Museum curator modestly suggested alternatives that made the same stones sparkle by more attentive placements.

Norma: #25...
I'm not sure what kind of landscape this stone represents but it seems too large for the tray and not buried deep enough.
I see that, too. The bamboo mat looks much too thick & course to sdisplay with such a shallow suiban. Bamboo itself suggests literati flavor but the suiban seems relatively cramped-- especially for a stone with considerable visual movement in the leftward direction. Still, given these three objects as the best available for what might have been the last arrangement, the placements seem satisfactory. The choice might have been whether or not to add this one. Unlike PVSG exhibits where stone arrangements are often intended to be placed in groups with intentional speeding and slowing for the exhibit browser, Sean & Jim arranged stones in line & regularity more common in Japanese suiseki display. They might have required a placeholder, here.

Norma:
#26 and 27 .....both are well displayed! The first is a perfect little duck but I am not sure about the dark figure stone....wings or sleeves ?
... or a beak... Neutral

See tagging on the NBF website

Norma:
Thanks for the pictures, Chris. Did you have any of the larger site? But I imagine these images should be on some NBPM website soon.
The pictures were a challenge but not a problem. They taught me better use of Photoshop for multiple-photo editing (color correction/re-sizing at one fell swoop).

You are right that photos of multiple arrangements on a long table tell a story which better represents an exhibit. Ked Dell often does that with photos for exhibits on the NBF website but not on this exhibit. I didn't take any overview shots, either, and apologize for the lapse. Perhaps, someone visiting will add an overview of one or more exhibition tables & of the alcove.

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Re: NBPM exhibit: Suiseki from the Keystone State (PA)

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