Author Topic: Bonsai Deconstructed  (Read 50078 times)

johng

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2009, 07:14 AM »
First Place
Jim Gremel

"Serenity"


This composition of a cascade Blue atlas cedar was one of the best displays I have ever seen. At first I didn't get the moon scroll and when I watched Jim set up the display which was next to mine, I though "oh boy Jim you really blew the season on this one". Then later when I studied it more I began to remember when I was a kid I would see clouds in the summer at dusk that would obscure the moon while I was trying to watch with a telesope. I would cuss those clouds for moving in and out of my pristine view.

Jim took me back to that time and stole my 2500.00 bucks.

Michael Hagedorn mentions this very notion about the moon and clouds being related to Summer.  Although it is not that long, he has a section in his book, 'Post Dated" in which he discusses the subtlety of display.  I am not surprised that so many people don't really get display...especially Japanese display.  There is often information in the display that is culturally significant and we just miss it!!  His teacher, as well as many others, seem to always suggest that display should be a local phenomenon...this way hopefully the audience will pick on the details that inform the story.

Thanks Al...I really enjoy display although I have sooo much to learn.
John
 

johng

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2009, 07:25 AM »
Second Place
Hideko Metaxis

"Feel as you wish"

This display is very religious. The tall stand places the tree in very high reverence. The Gingko tree is the guard of the Temple shrine, while the Kanon, Goddes of mercy watches the door of the shrine. The scroll of Kanji reads "kan ge sai (sp) or "Feel as you wish" or "look into yourself". A very nice display with everything in its place as only Hideko can do.

I might add that displays like this can only be appreciated when one understands all the things that each item represents. I must confess it was not my favorite staright away because I did not understand the meanings of the pieces. Once known, it all makes sense. So is the way of Kei-do*.


I knew that this display was one of the winners from your other threads...I had know way of knowing what the message was and was therefore not impressed with display...nothing to do with the elements...it just had no story to tell me
John
 

johng

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2009, 07:59 AM »
Thirteenth Place
Fresno Bonsai Society

"Spring in the Sierra Nevada"

In the other forum this display garnered no discussion at all. I wondered why? Is it so perfect that no one could say anything, or was there so much wrong that no body knew where to start?

Maybe this time it will stir some discussion. I will leave it to you all.

I must admit that the vertical piece of wood and the door make it more difficult to enjoy this display...if this were the spot I was given in a judged contest I think I would have been very disappointed.

There are also a couple of technical details that cause disharmony for me...
i think the tree and the scroll would flow better if they were reversed
I am not sure that the slab is large enough and I thinks it arms visually compete with the tree.
Its difficult to say for sure but the bird in the scroll reminds me of a kingfisher and as such seems out of place in the Sierre Nevadas.
Two slabs used...maybe one should have been a stand???

For me personally, with limited knowledge of the Sierra Nevadas, I think the tree is right on the money!  I like the fern accessory as well and I suspect it works in the given theme.

Although I do realize they should not, some of the details of this display distract me significantly from really enjoying this display.

I notice that this display was put together by a society/club...I wonder if these dynamics played into the results of the display...  In my experience, display by committee is extremely hard to pull off successfully.

just my thoughts...
john

 

johng

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2009, 08:07 AM »
Thank you Al...this was a ton of work. I have always really liked the display aspects of bonsai.  I have had only the rare opportunity to formally display my own trees in a singular fashion.  I have actively participated in creating club displays for the Carolina Bonsai Expo for 13 years and our local clubs show for several years prior to that.  I had the good fortune of having Tom Dimig (a student of Bill V's from long ago)share much of his knowledge about display.  I was also influenced by a video on display from the Kei-do school.  I have commented on a couple of the displays and will comment more as I get time....not that anything I say means anything..I just enjoy the opportunity to share my thoughts.
Thanks,
John

 

akeppler

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2009, 11:15 AM »
Thanks John...All thoughts add to the enjoyment and education of bonsai.
 

johng

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2009, 08:57 PM »
Third Place
Ted Matson

" Sierra Reflection"

I was most happy about this piece. For one I have respected Ted for many years and work with him 8 times a year. I was also very happy to see him recieve these very nice accolades for decades of years  of service to the bonsai community.

At first glance this piece is disconnected. The scroll is very high in the display. This could only be acheieved by the fact that the ceiling in the museum was tall enough to give us the freedom to make these presentations. Ted's inspiration for this was a waterfall plunging many feet into a pool below supporting a small conifer forest in the mist. It is very easy to see the inspiration and I think it was very well executed. I feel it totaly and will provide a photo of what I feel Ted was trying to say.

With your picture Al, this display speaks to me.  I really like the forest...it may never be a masterpiece but it has a very natural feel.  I think this is a very good example of letting the local nature guide the development of the display, much like your display.  I think that in general people outside of Japan worry way to much about the physical setup and placement of a display...as you point out these things are important but are secondary to the story/message.

Thanks,
John
 

johng

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2009, 09:10 PM »
This is a general statement but I really think we need to work on not cluttering the display area with name cards or numbers.  I notice small white cards in each of the display areas here. To my recollection nearly every American display of bonsai that I have seen have some sort of numbers or cards or something causing a distraction in the display area.  At the Carolina Bonsai Expo clubs are required to report the display information weeks before the display.  After the displays are setup a numbered list is generated and a small number card is placed near each tree.  I understand that educating viewers is important to the process of a public display but I just think a little more consideration could be used when it comes to placing that info.  What does it say to the viewer about the value of display if we are cluttering it up with non essentials?

Has anyone else noticed this...  I cannot recall off the top of my head, does the BIB show including anything like this???
John
 

akeppler

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #22 on: June 21, 2009, 11:59 PM »
Actually the small numbers were an oversight and we totally missed removing them. The cards were there because it gave the artists name, the title of the display and the theme of the display as well as the name of the plant as the main tree.

The numbers were left there after it was judged because there were no name cards before judging, and the numbers were the sole means of collating who was who. The numbers should have been picked up after judging but were missed.

Ahh well next year.

BIB uses a number systen where a card is placed at the back of the exhibit. Upon entering the exhibit you are handed a program and it lists all the pertinent info to the corresponding displays.

We will probably do something similer next year. We really wanted a program but ran out of time and man power.
 

bwaynef

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2009, 09:53 AM »
#13: Spring in the Sierra Nevada

I haven't spent a lot of time in the Sierra Nevada.  (That was the opposite of hyperbole.)  I don't know how well the artist did in depicting that environment.  I don't recall seeing the titles for the display when I first saw this display. 

At first glance I usually focus on the tree in displays.  I saw a tree that looked like it might have a high-mountain feel to it.  Then I saw the accent and the scroll and they suggested something else to me.  In those two elements I get the sense of being near a pond.  One would probably be hearing the hum of mosquitoes and the unmistakable bullfrog.   Going that route the tree became secondary.  Merely a suggestion.  After immersing myself in that display I got it.

When I viewed this display from that viewpoint I was taken immediately to a town in which I used to live.  My neighborhood backed up to another with a pond right off the road.  There were constantly herons patrolling the shallow water around the edges.  In the middle of the road was a GIANT Bald cypress that slowed traffic right as the pond opened up.  There was a little deadwood throughout the very upright canopy.  In the mornings the air was a little damp.  In the evenings the area was teeming with wildlife. If I still lived there I'd snap a picture and you all could see how well this display captured that environment.


So, I'm not sure how well the spring in the sierra was accomplished, but after a little study, I was smitten with this display because it was a scene I'd known well.  I'm sure it would've been better w/ a different tree.  Maybe that was a fault in the display.  Maybe I'm not versed in "Sierra Nevada" enough to get it.  Either way, I really liked this display.
 
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John Kirby

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2009, 09:22 PM »
Al,
Looks to have been a marvelous gathering. I was on my way when work stepped in and forced me to cancel.

I really like your composition as well, very well thought out and a nice touch. I believe hat when Peter does his time in Japan and comes back, he will have matured in to one of the finest.

John
 

akeppler

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #25 on: July 10, 2009, 01:18 AM »
Just before BT went down you had posted the review about Peter Tea. I was really delighted when he accepted the challange and came down for a Tokonoma spot. Come to find out Peter is president of Midori Bonsai, the club Matt Chroust is/was from. We talked about Matt and his challages he faces between work, family, and discussion forum. Guess which one takes a back seat.

There are very few people that have ever been in Matt Chroust's back yard. In fact I have never spoken to anyone that has ever been there. I have been there twice. Out of respect I did not take any pictures, but lets just say I have seen photo's of what nurseries in Japan look like and what Matt has in his back yard rivals anything I have seen. Matt had posted a few pictures before on Bt of a Boulevard cypress and a maple or hornbeam. These are just fluff. Unbelievable stuff back there.

After meeting Peter.. I found out that I had Peter's email address in my computer and didn't even know it! Needless to say, I will be supporting Peter at Midori's exhibit later in Sept.

Thanks for the kudo's John, next year I will blow them away, Al
 

akeppler

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #26 on: November 23, 2011, 08:05 PM »
Al,
Looks to have been a marvelous gathering. I was on my way when work stepped in and forced me to cancel.

I really like your composition as well, very well thought out and a nice touch. I believe hat when Peter does his time in Japan and comes back, he will have matured in to one of the finest.

John

I have not noticed the Japan connection when it comes to Tokonoma display. In fact my largest dissapointments have come from those that should be "in the know" if you know what I mean. This venue just completed its third exhibit, with this one being a late fall/early winter exhibition. First time I have ever displayed a tree in winter form....ever! While this is the usual for BIB it was a first for me.

I have photos of the last two years which I will present here for discussion later after I take the neighbors out for pizza and beer. Once again there are some real hits and a few misses. I will also point out a couple that stand out for peer review and will validate some of my feeling on this Japan POV when it comes to display.

Since I have a personality that always seems to be a few steps ahead of me, and I am a lone wasp that has mistakenly flown into a Boonhive...I will have to temper my remarks as if walking on eggshells. Of course I am always up for the challange!

BRB, al
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #27 on: November 23, 2011, 08:11 PM »
Enjoy the beer and pizza.  I look forward to reading your thoughts and seeing some good pictures.

 

John Kirby

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #28 on: November 23, 2011, 08:48 PM »
Al, no eggshells. My point about Peter is that he has a very good sense of art, sensitivity and organization. I don't expect that he will return as just a "stylist" like some. I look forwad to the pictures as well. I for one, find it difficult to show trees at any time other than winter...........
John
 

akeppler

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Re: Bonsai Deconstructed
« Reply #29 on: November 24, 2011, 01:48 AM »
For the exhibit year of 2010 we had some really great displays. Probably had the best year so far for the caliber of trees. While I have been studying very hard about the subtlies of bonsai display in a formal tokonoma, many that come to this exhibit still consider this a "tree" competition. That idea could not be further from the truth. Tokonoma display is not so much about any one componant, but rather about the sum total of each article chosen to tell the story.

The Scroll
The idea here is to assemble small articles of art into a cohesive story that can be instantly read by the viewer and deciphered with out hesitation. The idea is to tell the story through artistic depiction using a scroll, and secondary articles. I mention the scroll first becuase that is the heart of the display. I am very fortunate in the fact that since beginning in 2008 I began purchasing tea ceramony scroll and have assembled quite a collection of scroll suitable for tokonoma display in the venuse we use. I have over 40 pieces now and all are quite simple in arrangement and allow the scroll to easily tell the season of feeling while not overpowering the display.

So many times I see wonderfull presentations only to be ruined by the wrong scroll. I might use this time now to talk about the use of Japanese scrolls to display westeren themed art. Scroll making in Japan is very old, centuries old in fact. And centuries before that China offered tea ceromony scrolls in temples where monks would study sutra written on the scrolls for hours. In Japan, scrolls have always been displayed in the traditional alcove with Ikabana, vase art/ insense burner, and Butsudan. More recently bonsai and Suiseki. These scrolls have always been relied on to help tell the season either in celebration or actual season. The Japanese use the sky, ocean and mountains to tell their story, as well as the moon, birds, animals and insects. The clever use of certain animals or insects, birds and fish tell stories of the seasons as well. In fact those that covet scrolls for display and follow traditional ways of years gone by understand fully the significance of what is depicted on a scroll.

The image of Fuji, a famous and sacred mountain in Japan is celebrated each year at New Years. Fuji can be depicted with snow, clouds, rain, smoke, green trees, leafless trees and so on with each depiction capturing a specific time of year and even the time of day. The same of the moon. Cloudy, half moon, crecent moon, fuzzy moon hazy moon, crisp moon etc., etc.

No where else on earth is the depiction of nature and its surroundings and mans place in it found on something so special as a well executed scroll. Why not just hang a picture? One could. In fact the entry blank provides for a hanging picture upon entry. Why are they not used? A scroll offers somthing no framed art can. Soft edges. Carl Bergstrom wrote some years ago about the principle of the steelyard in bonsai display useing the Japanese styled scroll. The scroll while long, verticle and displayed seperating the tree and the accent goes a long way in balancing each of those elements. The placement of the scroll in relation to the tree, in relation to the accent can make or break a display.

The Tree
While I am writing the piece, hopefully each will understand these are my points of view and surly cannot deemed concrete. I am no expert in the field of Tokonoma Display, but I am placing, and I am getting it from the judges perspective. All I can do is offer ideas the way I see them and hopefully some will agree. Having said that, I can now say the tree is secondary to the diplay. Anyone who thinks the tree is the anchor and the scroll and accent are supporting will never win a prize in tokonoma display. Being the only person to have won two prizes, second twice, I can tell you I have the least favorite trees in the museum, but this idea is not about how good the trees are, it's about how well you elevate the trees feeling thru story. With the right scroll, the worst tree in the competition can win the whole thing. It's not a tree competition. Kokufu is a tree competition and they are displayed as such. Seki-Kazari. (Table top display)(More about that later) This is Toko-Kazari (Tokonoma display)and has absolutely nothing to do with Seki-Kazari, yet many come to this competition and set up wonderful Seki-Kazari displays with wonderful Kokufu caliber trees and then get all miffed when they don't win.

It is not paramount that a person hold steadfast to making the scroll the star of the show. The scroll and tree are interchangable in that regard. Either can be chosen first to set the mood of the display, but always keep in mind that no matter what, the scroll is always going to be seen first. That split second will and should sell the season immediatly while not always being overtly obvious. When done right the visual speed between objects in lighting fast. When it is, the viewer is captivated and will linger. It is then that subtlies will be recognized and small items are picked up on. When it is not done right the viewer is left confused and boredom is quick. Time to move on and see the rest of the displays. No payday today. Better luck next year.

A tree can be used to depict almost any season any time. The real key is to make sure the tree used fits the theme of the scroll in telling the story or the season. This year was like that. Since it was a late fall, early winter season, I was struck at the lack of diciduous trees. Though here in the valley and the state, many with some of the best winter ready trees do not participate in this competition. Too bad since $2500.00 dollars in on the line. This year I also learned soething very important. I was always under the impression that since we use such large scrolls, in many cases over 7 feet long, the tree had to be large. This year a very small juniper was displyed with a very large scroll and the composition really worked well. In fact so well I am working on a display for 2013 with a much smaller tree than I would normaly use.

The Accent
This is probably where the most work needs to be done. In spring flowers should be held to one or two blooms and the rest in buds. Toko Kazari is about sublety. The size of the stand under the accent. Is a flowering plant used, should it be a stone or a carving? In the end this last item is really very important. In fact it may so important that the best course of action is to leave it out. In Keido display, formally introduced by Takeyama and then taught to Kobayashi, Kimura and Sudo, the accent is left out and only a trtee and scroll are diplayed. Why? Sometimes that is all that is needed to encapsulate the perfect feeling. Don't schlock it up.

On to some trees.
2010 Toko Kazari.

First place, Katsumi Kinoshita, Montery Cypress
Second place, Al Keppler, Trident Maple
Third place, Seji Shiba, California Juniper
« Last Edit: November 24, 2011, 02:33 AM by akeppler »