Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

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Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  AJ on Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:34 pm

The 16th annual Carolina Bonsai Expo was held this past weekend, at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, NC. The event was another outstanding success! There are currently two other active threads regarding trees and displays from the Expo, and I hope others who have images will post them there. I want to have this thread dedicated to this year’s guest artist – Walter Pall.

To put it succinctly, Walter’s presence DOMINATED the 2011 Carolina Bonsai Expo. The Expo is structured in a way that lends itself to that. Unlike most bonsai symposiums, the Carolina Bonsai Expo typically has one single guest artist who is the center of attention throughout the event. We must be highly selective because of this, and any guest artist we invite has to be able to measure up to the demand placed upon them. Walter’s talent, energy, articulateness and larger-than-life personality makes him the ideal candidate for such a spotlight.

The show opened on Saturday morning and Walter didn’t have a program until after noon. He spent much of his “free” time wandering around the exhibit hall, making himself available to anyone who wanted to talk with him and sharing information specific to individual trees on display for whoever asked. This probably doesn’t sound like anything much, but in light of the fact that he had a 4-hour program coming up that afternoon and a 2 and ½-hour program that night, it was generous of him to be so accessible.

The afternoon program was a lecture/demonstration, which started off with an excellent digital image presentation on the Naturalistic Style of bonsai. The theme of the whole program, and indeed the whole weekend, was Naturalistic Style, and who better to do that than Walter Pall? Here he is getting animated while making a point during the digital image presentation:



After the digital image presentation, Walter moved directly to the subject of his demonstration – a medium sized, full, mature, container-grown Scotts Pine. The night before he had “introduced” this plant at a little social gathering held for the members of bonsai clubs participating in the Expo and stated that it was “terrible material for making a bonsai.” During the Saturday program he made it evident that this same tree was excellent material for making a Naturalistic bonsai:



After a thorough pruning and doing the initial wiring, Walter had Ken Duncan (left) and John Geanangel (right) assist him in applying the remaining wire. Or, more precisely, he had them do the remaining wiring while he went back to pontificating with great fervor and zeal:



The result of the demonstration was a beautiful sight to see. It is a great representation of exactly what Walter is trying to achieve with the Naturalistic Style, and of course he explained everything about his bonsai ideas as he went along. I’d love to show you a picture of the finished tree, but I can’t because I do not yet have one. The Arboretum has the tree, though, so I’ll be able to post one eventually. Perhaps someone else will post one in the mean time.

Walter had about an hour of rest before he was back in front of another eager audience, this time presenting a critique of the trees and displays on exhibit at the show:



Even the man’s most vocal detractors will have to admit he has an amazing energy level, and he loves talking to people. Walter led a parade around the entire exhibit hall, saying at least a few words about every single one of the 105 trees on exhibit, taking special note of the uniquely creative methods of display employed by some of the clubs and indicating his earnest approval of that effort:



Saturday was a long day for him, but at 9:00 Sunday morning Walter was back at it, conducting a 5-hour Naturalistic design workshop using collected Ponderosa Pine:



At the conclusion of the workshop, Walter found his way over to the live auction that was underway and briefly lent a hand to Randy Clark (left) and Jim Doyle (right):



And after that, he set up an impromptu demonstration out in the food court, putting some finishing touches on the Scots pine from his Saturday demonstration (as well as a Lodgepole Pine that he had started in his spare time.) I don’t have a picture of him doing that because the show was getting ready to close and things were really hectic, but there was Walter, calmly working away.

After the Expo was closed and the exhibits taken down, a group of us took Walter to a nearby restaurant. Here he is, STILL TALKING, with John, Ken and Mike of the Black Creek Study Group paying close attention:



The next day, Monday - yesterday as I write this, I had the great pleasure of taking Walter on a little tour of the scenic splendors of western North Carolina at the height of the autumnal leaf display. After an absolutely glorious weather weekend, Monday was gray, wet and chilly up in the mountains, and heavy mist descended to obliterate some of the most impressive views. It didn’t matter. The close-up scenery was still wonderful, and now and again the clouds parted long enough to take in a bigger view:













I expect there are far too many words in this post to suit most people’s taste, so perhaps no one is reading this anymore. That’s OK – I’ve had fun writing it because it has given me an opportunity to think back over the last few days and enjoy them all over again. The Expo is always a great experience, but a few of them stand out from the rest. This one was great for a variety of reasons, but most of all because Walter Pall was here, preaching the gospel of Naturalism. I know there are people who do not hold Walter in the highest esteem and think the whole Naturalistic Style is a bunch of nonsense, but I am not concerned with that (and besides, Walter says he forgives them… )
Here’s what I think, and yes, this is entirely my own personal opinion – Right now, there isn’t anyone in the world of bonsai more relevant than Walter Pall. He rubs a lot of people the wrong way and doesn’t seem to mind doing it, and modesty is not his strongest suit, it’s true, but whether certain people like it or not he is steering bonsai toward a broader future, and he has the mind, the voice and the international stature to do it. He’s pretty good at shaping a tree, too.


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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  John Quinn on Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:52 pm

Great post, Arthur. Sorry I missed the Expo this year!

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  jgeanangel on Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:01 pm

a fitting tribute! Thanks for taking the time Arthur!
John

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  Sam Ogranaja on Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:04 pm

I agree Arthur. Walter has great presence and walked right up to me on Friday night and introduced himself. He managed to squeeze a joke in the conversation as well. I wish I could have stayed for the critique.

I look forward to seeing you soon in Raleigh.
Have a great week!!!
Sam

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  JimLewis on Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:17 pm

I missed the critique, too, but once again, Arthur, a super Expo. They get better every year.

Thank YOU.

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  kenduncan on Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:23 pm

Arthur,
Thank You for another great Expo, You are the glue that holds all of this together and makes it
all work.
I enjoyed this post very much, it was a wonderful ending to the weekend.
What did Walter say about the Parkway? It was good that you could take him up there or should I say down South, I think that is the most beautiful part of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Ken


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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  fiona on Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:59 am

Thanks, Arthur. I did read it to the end too. Wink

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  coh on Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:11 am

fiona wrote:Thanks, Arthur. I did read it to the end too. Wink
Me too. Very nice summary, and thanks for doing it.

I'm still curious as to what Walter had to say about the exposed root Korean hornbeam (I think in the other thread someone mentioned that he had a lot to say about it). Anyone?

Chris

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  drgonzo on Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:40 am

A lot of being a successful artist (as my art school wife has told me) is selling YOURSELF. You have your art, yes, but YOU also have to be a bit larger than life and I always think that criticisms of Mr. Pall seem from people not understanding that art, and artist, must BOTH be interesting, unique, outstanding and sometimes 'over the top' in order to be successful, financially and otherwise. Mr. Pall makes his living doing Bonsai, VERY few people in the world do that. Its a mark not only of mastery of subject but also mastery of market.

That having been said, I prefer and usually style in 'Naturalistic' forms. I find pictures of Walters trees very inspiring, they are easily approachable and replicable to folks like myself who have less of an artist inside them and more of an arborist. I love the shot of him at the end.
Thank you for this thread and the work you did presenting it.
-Jay

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  Thích Đủ Thứ on Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:07 am

AJ wrote:...



...

Very nice material! I wish that I could have some like this!

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  bucknbonsai on Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:36 pm

Drgonzo,
I was at his talk (no words can describe how good it was) and I gathered from him that to pull off a well executed "naturalistic" style it is actually more difficult than a traditional bonsai. He points out that making a good naturalistic style you have to use artistic skill, and that producing traditional bonsai by following a set of rules (most books are almost like cook books or instruction manual of steps) is more of a craft than an art. He points out multiple times that naturalistic style is not just letting your tree grow naturally because not everything in nature is attractive, and that there is at least just as much work going into his naturalistic style as any traditional style.

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Trad. X Nat.

Post  David Carvalho on Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:29 pm

Hello,

To be completely honest I feel that this "West" discussion about Traditional Bonsai X Naturalistic it's simply full of bullshit (hate it or love it it's my personal opinion), don't get me wrong I respect Walter Pall for it's path, but GOOD Bonsai (a 1700+ years old form of art) it's naturalistic in it's form to build the "perfect" tree in nature, go grab some kokufu books, go over them, browse them carefully and freely admire it, after that if you don't feel the naturalistic feeling of those art pieces there is something wrong with you, or you simply don't like Bonsai. My objective it's not to offend anyone, this is my sincere opinion.

p.s- sorry for my poor english.

Best regards,


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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  Randy_Davis on Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:47 pm

David Carvalho wrote:Hello,

To be completely honest I feel that this "West" discussion about Traditional Bonsai X Naturalistic it's simply full of bullshit (hate it or love it it's my personal opinion.

Best regards,

David,

I think your full of BS and don't know your arse from 6 bits! There is more than one style of art and we should be open to it all. The current style of japanese trees don't look natural to me one bit! Just my personal opinion!

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total respect.

Post  David Carvalho on Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:55 pm

Hello Randy,

First of all I called bullshit to a discussion/topic not directly to anyone so your reply it's quite offensive and not that "naturalistic". Second in my humble bullshit opinion I believe you don't like Bonsai, I'm sure you like something else but that is not the art developed for the past 1700 years that it's called Bonsai. Don't mix Nascar and F1.

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  Randy_Davis on Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:27 pm

David Carvalho wrote:Hello Randy,

First of all I called bullshit to a discussion/topic not directly to anyone so your reply it's quite offensive and not that "naturalistic". Second in my humble bullshit opinion I believe you don't like Bonsai, I'm sure you like something else but that is not the art developed for the past 1700 years that it's called Bonsai. Don't mix Nascar and F1.

Best regards,

Sorry David but I found your responce quite offensive as well. It seems to me you need to do some historical studies on what bonsai looked like 60 years ago let alone 1700 years ago. Don't mix the idea of an unchanging world with one that is constantly changing and growing. Just my opinion again!

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...

Post  David Carvalho on Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:39 pm

Randy,



First you talk about evolution, constantly changing and growing, then you talk about how Bonsai looked 60 years ago, you change your arguments and mix them to achieve reason and that is not my point.

This discussion is pointless and endless, don't count me in to discuss it while you call bullshit to people.

Best regards,

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  drgonzo on Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:54 pm

I realize I just made a mistake and have edited my post accordingly.



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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  marcus watts on Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:00 pm

its easy to see both sides of the current discussion doing the rounds but i very firmly fall on the japanese side when it comes to design, balance and pleasing tree styles. I follow and enjoy traditional through to modern japanese styles and i dont really think i've seen any nice 'western' style bonsai that dont fall into one or more of the existing japanese styles or catagories.

please post some pictures of these naturalistic western style trees as i really honestly cant recall seeing any yet

thanks

there was certainly no need to start cussing and winding people up though - but then a wiser man wouldn't be drawn into a war of words in retaliation either.....

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  coh on Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:18 pm

Geez, can we end all this BS-slinging, and have someone just tell me what Walter had to say about that Korean hornbeam? Or any of the other trees for that matter? I'd like to hear some of his thoughts.

Chris

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  Tony on Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:01 pm

David Carvalho wrote:Hello,

To be completely honest I feel that this "West" discussion about Traditional Bonsai X Naturalistic it's simply full of bullshit (hate it or love it it's my personal opinion),

I like the fact the You are not afraid to speak your mind in considering Walters obvious passion for this 'style'

I will not pillory you for this as I too do not consider 'naturalistic' as a style in itself rather another approach.

Naturalistic is like Marmite



Last edited by tony on Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:06 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  marcus watts on Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:04 pm

tony wrote:
David Carvalho wrote:Hello,

To be completely honest I feel that this "West" discussion about Traditional Bonsai X Naturalistic it's simply full of bullshit (hate it or love it it's my personal opinion),

I like the fact the You are not afraid to speak your mind in considering Walters obvious passion for this 'style'

I will not pillory you for this as I too do not consider 'naturalistic' as a style in itself rather another approach.

Naturalist is like Marmite


well put, and that is a really cool link !!!!

i'm a Bovril man though - Very Happy

do they have marmite and bovril in other countries tho ? - or vegemite and ????

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  fiona on Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:12 pm

coh wrote:Geez, can we end all this BS-slinging, and have someone just tell me what Walter had to say about that Korean hornbeam? Or any of the other trees for that matter? I'd like to hear some of his thoughts.

Chris
Hear Hear!


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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  Russell Coker on Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:48 pm

fiona wrote:
coh wrote:Geez, can we end all this BS-slinging, and have someone just tell me what Walter had to say about that Korean hornbeam? Or any of the other trees for that matter? I'd like to hear some of his thoughts.

Chris
Hear Hear!




Me too!

Oh, and I'd like for you all to notice that I was NOT involved when this thread went to hell. Thank you, and you're welcome. Very Happy

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  Tony on Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:01 pm

Russell Coker wrote:Oh, and I'd like for you all to notice that I was NOT involved when this thread went to hell. Thank you, and you're welcome. Very Happy

And what a surprise that is Russell thumbs up

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

Post  Jesse McMahon on Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:33 pm

thanks, arthur, for a great read and pictures. already looking forward to the expo next year..

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Re: Walter Pall at the Carolina Bonsai Expo

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