Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  jgeanangel on Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:44 pm

jad628 wrote:
In most displays, each bonsai needs it's own "room" to be fully appreciated. I agree with this, and also agree that we have a tendency to put too many bonsai in our displays. Still, the traditional three bamboo sections tied together as the "break" between bonsai is an established technique, but does it have to be that or nothing at all? For better or worse, we used long-leaf pine needles lined up to make our club's break between individual bonsai. It appeared to be visual enough to do the job while being subtle enough to avoid clashing with the bonsai. That's an example of the little things I look for to increase my personal bonsai knowledge and ability. I'm glad we are involved in a show where such attempts are encouraged. At the very least, we learn what doesn't work.

Thanks JAD...
I wonder if a break is necessary at all when you are trying to tie trees together into a club display not separate them?
John

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  jad628 on Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:57 pm

jgeanangel wrote:
jad628 wrote:
In most displays, each bonsai needs it's own "room" to be fully appreciated. I agree with this, and also agree that we have a tendency to put too many bonsai in our displays. Still, the traditional three bamboo sections tied together as the "break" between bonsai is an established technique, but does it have to be that or nothing at all? For better or worse, we used long-leaf pine needles lined up to make our club's break between individual bonsai. It appeared to be visual enough to do the job while being subtle enough to avoid clashing with the bonsai. That's an example of the little things I look for to increase my personal bonsai knowledge and ability. I'm glad we are involved in a show where such attempts are encouraged. At the very least, we learn what doesn't work.

Thanks JAD...
I wonder if a break is necessary at all when you are trying to tie trees together into a club display not separate them?
John


Good point, John. It does seem to be an accepted technique - maybe even required by some - but without trying other arrangements how could we ever know if it was "necessary"? I'm not sure it is, but I lean towards it as prudent when the display surface itself is without change.

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  jgeanangel on Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:28 pm

jad628 wrote:
jgeanangel wrote:
jad628 wrote:
In most displays, each bonsai needs it's own "room" to be fully appreciated. I agree with this, and also agree that we have a tendency to put too many bonsai in our displays. Still, the traditional three bamboo sections tied together as the "break" between bonsai is an established technique, but does it have to be that or nothing at all? For better or worse, we used long-leaf pine needles lined up to make our club's break between individual bonsai. It appeared to be visual enough to do the job while being subtle enough to avoid clashing with the bonsai. That's an example of the little things I look for to increase my personal bonsai knowledge and ability. I'm glad we are involved in a show where such attempts are encouraged. At the very least, we learn what doesn't work.

Thanks JAD...
I wonder if a break is necessary at all when you are trying to tie trees together into a club display not separate them?
John


Good point, John. It does seem to be an accepted technique - maybe even required by some - but without trying other arrangements how could we ever know if it was "necessary"? I'm not sure it is, but I lean towards it as prudent when the display surface itself is without change.

Hey John...it is only an accepted technique when individual trees are displayed traditionally. If the intent of your group display is to mimic a Japanese/traditional show then of course it works...if your group display has a different goal then it may not work...that's all I am trying say.

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  jad628 on Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:50 pm

jgeanangel wrote:
Hey John...it is only an accepted technique when individual trees are displayed traditionally. If the intent of your group display is to mimic a Japanese/traditional show then of course it works...if your group display has a different goal then it may not work...that's all I am trying say.

Sure, I can see your point. It's one of those situations where one has to decide how to proceed. In a display (such as your last one) negative space is accomplished with changes in height and varying distances between bonsai - and I thought it was very effective. As a matter-of-fact, I considered your diagram a good representation of a group planting as you would look down on it. In our particular display, we used one height for the entire sixteen feet of linear area. I felt we were prudent to use something to "break" between bonsai, since the trees themselves were not inherently the theme. Now had we used a theme like all conifers, etc., maybe that would be better displayed without the breaks.
Good discussion!

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  AJ on Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:50 pm

owennashville wrote:Arthur, I am not a hard-liner for super-traditional Japanese display or plants. I vigorously support the use of native material and material from all over the world for that matter. To be clear, my statements were meant to point out the "failed attempts" of innovative display. No matter what the medium, a display should evoke the feeling of simplicity and elegance; not cracker-jack toys and flashy-ness.

No matter what country is displaying bonsai or what the encouragements or parameters of a given exhibition are, we have a duty as artists/exhibitors to pursue higher and higher levels of quality and refinement to be good ambassadors for the art of bonsai. The general public may assume at first blush bonsai is an arts and crafts explosion. We have to at least maintain a base level of sophistication for this art form.

Thank you for hosting this event for so many years and continuing to find great artists to critique and teach.

Owen Reich

Owen - I agree with most of what you say (which is too bad, really; if we could have a nasty, insulting fight about it, the number of views for this thread would go through the roof!) Particularly, I agree strongly with the part about pursuing "higher and higher levels of quality and refinement", and being "good ambassadors for the art of bonsai." I know you are a champion for using native plant material, and the collected trees displayed by you and John W. were some of the highlights of the show, in my opinion. The Nashville Bonsai Society display, which featured your tree, was simply and tastefully done, and I enjoyed seeing it. There is no argument from me with any of that.

There are several points, however, where my view differs from yours. Although the feeling of "simplicity and elegance" is reliably pleasing and a natural fit with most bonsai, I would not want to rule out other possibilities. Why not allow some bonsai and bonsai display the right to be complex, or flashy, or humorous, or disturbing? I am not saying I necessarily want to do bonsai in all these modes of feeling, but rather that I wouldn't want to deny the possibility that it could be done that way to good effect. I wouldn't want to take those options off the table. Why should bonsai be limited to such a narrow range of expression?

As for the whole question of art in bonsai, it is a bottomless well into which we can pour as much sound and fury as we like without ever hoping to bring much of substance up to the surface. For my own purposes, I think the relationship of art to bonsai is the same as the relationship of art to music, or art to painting, or art to poetry, or any number of other creative pursuits. The possibility is there for it to happen, but it's not that common an occurrence. More often what people practice is craft (hat tip to Walter Pall.) There is nothing wrong with this - good craftsmanship takes great skill and is an admirable accomplishment in its own right. Good craft seems rarely to be compromised by the excesses, hyperbole and grand delusions that often hamper self-conscious attempts at art.

There is another whole world of disagreement about the relationship of craft to art, but I wouldn't care to go there, either. For me, the bottom line is to practice good craft and be creative, and if something artistic comes of it, so much the better.


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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  AJ on Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:19 pm

As a celebration of the 15th Carolina Bonsai Expo, I prepared a PowerPoint presentation looking back over the previous fourteen events. Mostly this presentation focused on the people who have been involved with the show over the years. However, in rummaging through the images I had, I found many depicting displays I made of trees from the NC Arboretum bonsai collection.

Up until the Bonsai Exhibition Garden opened at the 2005 Expo, the NC Arboretum had no formal display facility for its bonsai. So I would select some trees for display and exhibit them up on the second floor of the same building where the club trees were being shown on the first floor. At first I simply lined out the trees on tables. The presentation was simple and clean, but really didn't look like much. Here's a picture of the NC Arboretum's display at the very first Carolina Bonsai Expo in 1996:



Part of the problem, as you can see, was that the trees were young and wanting in development. Another factor was my own inexperience. This was the first time I had ever made a bonsai display. Although it makes me cringe a bit to look at it now, I did the best I could at the time with what I had at the time.

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  AJ on Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:18 pm

As I began to think and learn more about bonsai display, of course I encountered pictures in books and magazines of formal Japanese displays arranged in a tokonoma setting. I appreciated their beauty, but felt no connection to them. Unlike most people who are drawn to bonsai, I do not have any particular attraction to Japanese art. I have seen a great deal of Japanese visual art in museums in Japan and the US, and reproduced in books and videos and the like. I am aware of it and respect it without feeling any desire to emulate it. Therefore, when thinking about displaying bonsai in a formal setting, my starting point was looking for some other way to go about it than the way it was traditionally done.

This was an honest impulse on my part. I had no idea that some people would find the thought ignorant, misguided and/or insulting. I was looking at bonsai display as a medium of expression, which I assumed was the same concept that was behind the traditional Japanese tokonoma displays. I wanted to do the expression part, but I'm not Japanese, so it didn't make any sense to me to do it the way they do.

These next two pictures were from another early Expo. By this point I had began displaying the trees in front of paintings, and in this case the paintings depict a scene inspired by the mountain landscape of western North Carolina:




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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  AJ on Tue Oct 26, 2010 6:14 pm

My friend John G. made the point in an earlier post that these displays look much different in person than they do in photographs, and although that sounds like excuse making, it's true. What you see when you look at a photograph (even a good photograph, which most of these I'm posting are not) is completely different from what you experience when you stand in a given space and encounter a three-dimensional display.

This is worth mentioning because the intent in building a bonsai display is not to provide a subject for a photographic image. The purpose in building a bonsai display is to create an experience of the bonsai.

Here is a picture of part of the NC Arboretum display from the 2001 Carolina Bonsai Expo:



The trees at this point were becoming more developed and I had moved away from feeling that the paintings behind them needed to be representational. Jim Doyle was a guest artist that year, and he told me he didn't like the display because it made it hard to take a good picture of the bonsai. Jim is a good friend and I respect his opinion, but facilitating photography of the trees was not the objective. Besides, I thought some of the specimens photographed nicely with the abstract background:



You might agree with Jim. That's OK - it's a matter of taste. All of this is a matter of taste. We are all free to decide what we like and do not like, and we can then let that decision inform our actions.

(Let me quickly add that I am talking here about bonsai display and creativity, and not all things in life. If I decide I do not like Jim Doyle because, let's say, he's a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies, I am not free to express my disagreement by whacking him in the head with Ryan Howard model baseball bat. But I am free to gloat about Ryan Howard looking at a called third strike to end the game and cost the Phillies the NL pennant, when the go-ahead run was on base. Freedom has its limitations.)

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  jad628 on Tue Oct 26, 2010 6:24 pm





For the sake of this discussion, the above photos were of our display effort in 2008.

I will be the first to say it was not well-received by everyone, however it did indeed touch many people in a way it was designed to do. The idea of the display was to emphasize "Southern Backyard Bonsai". The effort was a combined one with lots of the materials used from different member's collections. In my case, the two-man saw, lantern, an old can of lime sulphur, and line insulators came from my family's tractor shed which dates back to the 40's. The old tags, weather vane, and other tidbits came from other members. The straw bale, pumpkin, and mums were from the Asheville Farmer's Market. There was an old (like 60's) Dr. Pepper bottle that had been cleaned and used to keep chopsticks in for soil tamping, etc. Heck, even the kudzu was from the Asheville area. Of course, the bonsai were from different members as well. The actual wood display was received well enough that it was PURCHASED at the end of the show and IS in someone's backyard now.

This attempt was to lighten up on the perceived notion that only an elderly, studious, Japanese man could do bonsai. It's amazing how many people think that way. Our display was to show that you might just walk into the backyard of a modest home - even a mobile home - and find good quality bonsai being nurtured by a southerner. I for one refuse to believe that bonsai can only be appreciated by a small fraction of our demographics. In my opinion, our effort was successful in making that point.

Oh, and one very important by-product of this effort was that we had FUN doing it. That fun also seemed to be shared by others. I'm pretty sure that's a good thing.


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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  AJ on Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:00 pm

In 2003 I did a display that was probably my personal favorite, in terms of both idea and execution. Many people didn't "get it", but there was nothing to really get; it was simply a set designed to create an experience of the bonsai. You either felt something out of the experience or you didn't. Traditionalists hated it, but it obviously wasn't intended to appeal to traditionalists.

The display was in two parts. The first was a space where the backdrop and the table cloths were black and the room was dimly lit. There were spotlights on the individual bonsai which made them stand out in a high-impact way. Interspersed among the displayed bonsai were blue tree trunks. These were actual trees - saplings I had cut from the woods and painted bright blue, then made free standing by anchoring them in cans of concrete. Naturally, the bases were hidden so you could not see them. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, I don't know) there is no photograph I know of that shows this display in its entirety. Here's a picture of one of the bonsai in the display, in which you can see the effect of the blue tree nearby:



In an adjacent room there was another display that related to the first. In this one there were paintings on the wall behind the displayed bonsai, and the paintings reflected the same blue-trees-on-black-background motif. Here's a shot showing a section of the display:



and here's one showing a detail:



Although some people found it too puzzling and others rejected it for being in bad taste, I think most of the people who saw it enjoyed it one way or another. I know I felt great putting it together and watching people interact with it. It was in place for just two days, seven years ago, and yet just thinking about it now still makes me smile.

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  fiona on Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:31 pm

I find the last display there quite fascinating and in its own way, beautiful. I wish I could have seen the "all black" one.

Thanks for making your point with these illustrations, Arthur. I have always said that the Carolina Expo is one of the exhibitions I will make a point of visiting at some point. This makes me fervently hope that it is sooner rather than later.

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:16 pm

Some outstanding trees all the way around. If I might make somea personal observations about the original controversial photo at the beginning of the thread:

bwaynef wrote:


I really don't have a problem with the composition of the display, especially since it appears to be a collective display of a club. My biggest concern is the amount of shadows thrown against the wall that conflict with the overall view as well as impacting individual trees. The way to correct that would be to apply an equal distribution of lighting from below and the sides, theorhetically removing the shadows.

The color of the display doesn't appear to conflict with any of the trees or pots, but the lightness of the tan makes the shelves stand out almost more than the pots. If the stand had been painted black and appropriate lighting applied, the shelves could be allowed to disappear emphasizing the pots and trees more. I'm not sure if white would have been any better.

Not that I've ever attempted to display that many trees, but the display, the conversation and the trees, together, do provoke a little critical evaluation of what could be done differently and questions arise as to whether 'different' would, or would not, be an improvement.

Jay


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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  AJ on Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:19 pm

2004 was the last year I presented a formal bonsai display for the Carolina Bonsai Expo. The next year the Bonsai Exhibition Garden opened, so the NC Arboretum bonsai had a permanent home designed to be an outdoor display. I have mixed feelings about no longer doing the Expo displays. On the one hand, I miss the energy and creative stimulation of coming up with an idea and then working to bring it to fruition. On the other, I've got a lot to do that weekend anyway, and doing the big displays was killing me. They were always installed on the Friday night before the show opened on Saturday, and the last few years I had to stay up all night to finish them, so I was a wreck all weekend.

The 2004 display featured another abstract background. The pictures were made of spray painted newspaper and sticks, and were still wet when I hung them on the walls that night:







You may notice the shape and placement of the paintings was the same in these displays every year, even as the paintings themselves changed. This was a practical necessity. The space I was using ordinarily had artwork hanging on the walls, and when I took that down there were nails and picture hangers everywhere. So I had panels fabricated that were designed to cover all that. I used the same panels year after year, just painting over the picture from the year before. The last paintings, the ones in the above photos, have been hanging on the wall in an office here ever since.

There was a second display, using words in conjunction with the displayed bonsai to convey a message (the words were in English, so the audience could understand them):



The picture is a little blurry (a scanned film image), so you probably can't read the message.
It says, "Question: What is bonsai? Answer: At its best, bonsai is living art, expressing in miniature an experience of nature."

Bonsai here at the NC Arboretum does not exist in a vacuum. It's not here to be the continuation of an ancient and esoteric tradition or to celebrate a foreign aesthetic. It's here because it's a form of creative horticulture that many people find fascinating, and want to come and see and learn about. The Carolina Bonsai Expo is a vehicle for achieving that purpose. Although I derived great personal pleasure and creative satisfaction from doing different forms of bonsai display at the Expo, the only reason I was able to keep doing it was because the visiting public enjoyed it so much they kept coming back for more. God bless them, they just don't know any better. They don't know what it's supposed to be, so they don't know how wrong it is to be creative and experimental with it.

That's why the clubs that participate in the Expo are encouraged to try different modes of display. It makes the show more interesting and enjoyable for the visitors, while it makes the act of presenting bonsai more personally meaningful for the people who create the displays. The success of the Expo suggests the idea has merit.

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  Robert J. Baran on Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:40 pm

Bravo, Arthur, on your continued exploration of bonsai display!

We are, indeed, allowing this art/hobby to grow and thrive by displaying not only native North American dwarf potted trees but also doing so in settings which are not just students or slaves to traditional Asian arrangements. Several classical Japanese teachers (Yoshimura, Kobayashi, Nozaki, among others) indicated that the art of bonsai in the U.S./West would and should include native plants. Without watering-down their intentions, it is a logical transition that this would eventually include some of our native tree styles and compositional presentations. And even as Japanese (and Chinese) traditional display has evolved, so too must the way North American, European, Australian, South American, African, and non-Japanese/Chinese Asian exhibitions develop along their own lines, to tell their own stories and perceptions. ("You must first learn the rules, then you can break them.")

And, yes, there are many viewers who will not "get" every display, who will not be comfortable with particular backdrops or lightings, etc. We ourselves will not be pleased with every single exhibit we will see. We need to respectfully listen to all criticism and incorporate other interpretations and points-of-view where we can to more fully express what these magical miniature landscapes communicate to us and by us.

Again, Arthur -- and all participating clubs and enthusiasts -- congratulations on fifteen wonder-filled years of exploration!

Robert J. Baran
Bonsai Researcher and Historian

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  AJ on Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:37 pm

jad628 wrote:

For the sake of this discussion, the above photos were of our display effort in 2008.

I will be the first to say it was not well-received by everyone, however it did indeed touch many people in a way it was designed to do. The idea of the display was to emphasize "Southern Backyard Bonsai"....

This attempt was to lighten up on the perceived notion that only an elderly, studious, Japanese man could do bonsai. It's amazing how many people think that way...

Oh, and one very important by-product of this effort was that we had FUN doing it. That fun also seemed to be shared by others. I'm pretty sure that's a good thing.


John - Thanks for posting the pictures of this display and explaining the idea behind it. I appreciated the sense of fun in this exhibit, and the attempt to take some of the stuffiness out of formal bonsai display. I'm sure you took your lumps for it, but it was neatly done, had a coherent concept, and many people enjoyed it.

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  AJ on Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:44 pm

fiona wrote:I find the last display there quite fascinating and in its own way, beautiful. I wish I could have seen the "all black" one.

Thanks for making your point with these illustrations, Arthur. I have always said that the Carolina Expo is one of the exhibitions I will make a point of visiting at some point. This makes me fervently hope that it is sooner rather than later.

Thanks for your comment, Fiona. I hope you will eventually make it to one of the Expo's, although if you're going to visit western NC you might want to come in July and visit this. If seeing lots of brawny, bearded men in plaid skits throwing heavy objects and chasing sheep is your idea of a good time, this is it!

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  jad628 on Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:18 pm

AJ wrote:
John - Thanks for posting the pictures of this display and explaining the idea behind it. I appreciated the sense of fun in this exhibit, and the attempt to take some of the stuffiness out of formal bonsai display. I'm sure you took your lumps for it, but it was neatly done, had a coherent concept, and many people enjoyed it.

AJ,

I guess I can only speak for myself, but I took up bonsai for enjoyment and that is synonymous with fun. Before that I was fairly involved with shooting competition, which became more technique-intensive than I was happy with. I certainly understand that bonsai also requires proper techniques, but it is also a means of individual expression and a way to entertain our souls. Without that, bonsai would no longer be a "labor of love". It would just be plain old labor.

I will never ridicule formal display efforts because I do find them beautiful and worthy of respect. Still, when the strict rules are lessened a bit we get to see "personality" in a different light. I find it ironic that in the admittedly small number of bonsai displays I have taken part in, certain individuals have very different "personalities" to the one they take on AT the show. I can't quite figure that out, but I'll assume it is status quo to adapt to the environment one finds themselves in.

As you know, the particular Expo in which we entered this display was originally one scheduled to have Nick Lenz as the guest artist. We did indeed take that into consideration when the concept of our display was formulated. Although circumstances changed and then Peter Adams was the guest artist, I still believe that the display was a wonderful opportunity to do something "outside the box". Mr. Adams probably gave us the best compliment we could ask for as a club during the critique. One observer muttered a not so nice comment about it to which Mr. Adams very matter-of-factly said to the crowd, "Good bonsai is where you find it". In a sense, that established exactly what we were trying to emulate with our display.

Our club, and many others, are very thankful for the opportunity provided for us to express ourselves at the Carolina Bonsai Expo.

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  AJ on Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:22 pm

Robert J. Baran wrote:Bravo, Arthur, on your continued exploration of bonsai display!

We are, indeed, allowing this art/hobby to grow and thrive by displaying not only native North American dwarf potted trees but also doing so in settings which are not just students or slaves to traditional Asian arrangements. Several classical Japanese teachers (Yoshimura, Kobayashi, Nozaki, among others) indicated that the art of bonsai in the U.S./West would and should include native plants. Without watering-down their intentions, it is a logical transition that this would eventually include some of our native tree styles and compositional presentations. And even as Japanese (and Chinese) traditional display has evolved, so too must the way North American, European, Australian, South American, African, and non-Japanese/Chinese Asian exhibitions develop along their own lines, to tell their own stories and perceptions. ("You must first learn the rules, then you can break them.")

And, yes, there are many viewers who will not "get" every display, who will not be comfortable with particular backdrops or lightings, etc. We ourselves will not be pleased with every single exhibit we will see. We need to respectfully listen to all criticism and incorporate other interpretations and points-of-view where we can to more fully express what these magical miniature landscapes communicate to us and by us.

Again, Arthur -- and all participating clubs and enthusiasts -- congratulations on fifteen wonder-filled years of exploration!

Robert J. Baran
Bonsai Researcher and Historian

Robert,

Thank you most sincerely for your thoughtful comments. Few people who participate in this forum can match the depth and breadth of your knowledge pertaining to the history of bonsai, so I appreciate that you also look forward to where bonsai may go in the years to come.

You mentioned Mr. Yuji Yoshimura as one of the classical Japanese teachers who encouraged the use of native plants in the West, but I can tell you first hand that he did more than that. It was Mr. Yoshimura, during my period of study with him in the mid-90's, who first encouraged me to look for different ways of doing and presenting bonsai. He told me then that part of my job was to create what he labeled the "Carolina School of Bonsai". When he said that I laughed, because I thought he was joking. Mr. Yoshimura had a wonderfully sneaky sense of humor, although he could be quite stern, as well. He let me know on no uncertain terms that he was not making a joke.

In the years since my brief time with him, Mr. Yoshimura's words have guided my thoughts and actions in more ways than I can tell you. The way bonsai is presented at the NC Arboretum, the way it is expressed at the Carolina Bonsai Expo, is largely attributable to Mr. Yoshimura's vision of the "Carolina School of Bonsai". I never call it that, by the way. I think of it more as belonging to the Southern Appalachians, but the essential core concept is that of regional influence. There is no logical reason for bonsai to have the same appearance all over the world.


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A final thought on display

Post  Owen Reich on Thu Nov 04, 2010 3:43 am

I feel that any display that draws the focus away from the composition of tree and container, is unnecessary and an excellent way to hide poor technique or distract the viewer from what bonsai is all about no matter your nationality. The one thing that I disagree with a.j. strongly on is that while bonsai did evolve from penjing, anything classified as bonsai is at the core based on the a Japanese art form no matter where the plant is native to. We are working within certain ideals and design fundamentals (scale,depth, form) refined over hundreds of years. Traditional displays or contemporary displays that are "successful" do nothing to make the bonsai look worse. They bring bonsai into clear focus and allow the composition alone to display the message. Minimalism is the point!
We Americans need to master the techniques of already established display before blazing new trails. You can't side-step the old ways to create new ones.












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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  jad628 on Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:27 pm

Owen Reich wrote:I feel that any display that draws the focus away from the composition of tree and container, is unnecessary and an excellent way to hide poor technique or distract the viewer from what bonsai is all about no matter your nationality. The one thing that I disagree with a.j. strongly on is that while bonsai did evolve from penjing, anything classified as bonsai is at the core based on the a Japanese art form no matter where the plant is native to. We are working within certain ideals and design fundamentals (scale,depth, form) refined over hundreds of years. Traditional displays or contemporary displays that are "successful" do nothing to make the bonsai look worse. They bring bonsai into clear focus and allow the composition alone to display the message. Minimalism is the point!
We Americans need to master the techniques of already established display before blazing new trails. You can't side-step the old ways to create new ones.

[b]

I do see the substance of what you are talking about, but one could also argue that every automobile made today evolved from the Model A. I'm fairly certain the majority of us are happy that different body styles, colors, automatic transmissions, and air conditioning added worth to the initial car, rather than took away from it. I for one would not like to have to take a trip to Asheville in a Henry Ford original, but in a club cruise...different story. There are car shows that feature antique automobiles and there are others that favor concept cars. All have their own appeal. Luckily, I happen to like traditional and un-traditional efforts. The proof is in the pudding.

Lastly, if minimalism is key, then many Japanese display efforts are failing in this regard as well. A scroll and/or an accent planting is violating that rule, regardless of how one tries to rationalize it. I'm not saying I support that quasi-rule, but if one requires that it be followed, then it must be applied in all efforts.

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  MACH5 on Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:40 pm


"Lastly, if minimalism is key, then many Japanese display efforts are failing in this regard as well. A scroll and/or an accent planting is violating that rule, regardless of how one tries to rationalize it. I'm not saying I support that quasi-rule, but if one requires that it be followed, then it must be applied in all efforts."
[/quote]


I would disagree here. Minimalism does not mean a tree being displayed against a stark, empty wall or space, although sometimes this may be the case. It does mean, that with as few elements as possible, the artist composes to suggest an atmosphere and tell a story where the bonsai (tree + pot) is the main protagonist. Perhaps more than minimalism I would categorize it as "simplicity" being the key concept in bonsai art as a whole.

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  jad628 on Thu Nov 04, 2010 2:42 pm

MACH5 wrote:
"Lastly, if minimalism is key, then many Japanese display efforts are failing in this regard as well. A scroll and/or an accent planting is violating that rule, regardless of how one tries to rationalize it. I'm not saying I support that quasi-rule, but if one requires that it be followed, then it must be applied in all efforts."


I would disagree here. Minimalism does not mean a tree being displayed against a stark, empty wall or space, although sometimes this may be the case. It does mean, that with as few elements as possible, the artist composes to suggest an atmosphere and tell a story where the bonsai (tree + pot) is the main protagonist. Perhaps more than minimalism I would categorize it as "simplicity" being the key concept in bonsai art as a whole.

I like your description of simplicity versus the term minimalism, and that does have merit. Still, it is important to remember that the theme at the CBE has been one of CLUB display, not just emphasis on individual bonsai. An overall theme is warranted and encouraged. This is apparently a rarity amongst bonsai shows. One has to wonder if there might be some pent-up frustration on the part of individuals who do not want their bonsai to be considered as part of a "group" but rather on its own merits. With the very generous guidelines (and award categories) that have been in place at CBE, it seems that both situations can exist simultaneously.

Once again, I do not mean to imply it is wrong, but when a scroll, stand, and accent all have to harmonize with a bonsai and pot, I cannot summize how one could feel these items "disappear" when they are part of a formal display. I will quickly agree that they can add value to an overall design, but I cannot agree that there isn't some compromise - albeit miniscule - to the focus of the bonsai and its attributes. They might be subtle, "flow", augment, complement, or whatever term one might want to use, but they still take a percentage of the focus.

Good civil discussion!

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  owennashville on Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:57 pm

Yes, I think simplicity is a better description. A minimal amount of distractions and stuff to get the point across. The point was brought up that Asheville's show is club focused. This is the case for sure and I'm happy to participate and see so many people willing to attend and work hard to come up with the displays. Innovations and improvements are great as long as the past is taken into consideration before proceeding. Modern artisits don't just grab a brush and start painting; years of study of other good art is studied and practiced to form a basis of "classical" training.

This has been a good, civil, discussion and good points have been made by all.

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  MACH5 on Thu Nov 04, 2010 5:00 pm

[quote="jad628"]
MACH5 wrote:
"Lastly, if minimalism is key, then many Japanese display efforts are failing in this regard as well. A scroll and/or an accent planting is violating that rule, regardless of how one tries to rationalize it. I'm not saying I support that quasi-rule, but if one requires that it be followed, then it must be applied in all efforts."


I would disagree here. Minimalism does not mean a tree being displayed against a stark, empty wall or space, although sometimes this may be the case. It does mean, that with as few elements as possible, the artist composes to suggest an atmosphere and tell a story where the bonsai (tree + pot) is the main protagonist. Perhaps more than minimalism I would categorize it as "simplicity" being the key concept in bonsai art as a whole.

I like your description of simplicity versus the term minimalism, and that does have merit. Still, it is important to remember that the theme at the CBE has been one of CLUB display, not just emphasis on individual bonsai. An overall theme is warranted and encouraged. This is apparently a rarity amongst bonsai shows. One has to wonder if there might be some pent-up frustration on the part of individuals who do not want their bonsai to be considered as part of a "group" but rather on its own merits. With the very generous guidelines (and award categories) that have been in place at CBE, it seems that both situations can exist simultaneously.

Once again, I do not mean to imply it is wrong, but when a scroll, stand, and accent all have to harmonize with a bonsai and pot, I cannot summize how one could feel these items "disappear" when they are part of a formal display. I will quickly agree that they can add value to an overall design, but I cannot agree that there isn't some compromise - albeit miniscule - to the focus of the bonsai and its attributes. They might be subtle, "flow", augment, complement, or whatever term one might want to use, but they still take a percentage of the focus.

Good civil discussion![/quote

In my opinion "minimalism" is perhaps a bit too harsh of a description to use for bonsai. Minimalism as a concept, strives to strip it all to the bare essence of something. "Simplicity" on the other hand, denotes a little more flexibility and allows for the usage of details that are an important part of bonsai language.

I agree that any element included in any display would "distract" the eye, if only for a moment, away from the focal point (the bonsai). With that being said, it all should work together to frame and support the bonsai in question bringing the viewer's eye back to the tree. As with all forms of art, there's a fine threshold between simplicity and clarity of vision, and something that appears overwrought. For the record I am not decrying any experimentation with this ancient art and finding news ways to express it, but all expressions should follow certain basic guidelines. Otherwise we may be creating something other than bonsai.

MACH5
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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

Post  chench53 on Sat Aug 20, 2011 11:48 pm

jgeanangel wrote:Here are a few photos of the club displays from the Expo.

.....I didn't catch the name of this club from Virginia but this is their first year at the Expo
Sorry folks, new members can't post external links for 7 days, so I can't show jgeanangel's picture. Instead I'll refer everyone back to jgeanangel's post dated Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:14 pm, where he wrote "I didn't catch the name of this club from Virginia but this is their first year at the Expo".

While looking for an accurate link to this year's 2011 Expo for our newsletter, I came across this thread with pictures from the 2010 Expo. Your picture shows the Virginia Bonsai Society display, and yes- it was our first time at the expo. I was thrilled that others posted pictures of our display!

I took a lot of pictures last year, not such great quality; but I put them together to show the different concepts everyone had, backdrops, ways to separate individual bonsai. You can see our pictures here if you change the DOT to the actual . , and take out the spaces in the following:

https: // picasaweb DOT google DOT com/ 110572893722600861143/2010CarolinaBonsaiExpo#
(I hope that worked for you!)

We enjoyed the 2010 event immensely! It was a wonderful learning opportunity in so many ways, and we'll be back again this year. Dance

Looking forward to October 2011,

Gerry
Virginia Bonsai Society
Norfolk, VA

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Re: Carolina Bonsai Expo 2010 Pictures

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