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Bonsai Deconstructed

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Fifth Place
Charles Nelson

"High Sierra"

Chuck nelson lives aout 1/2 mile from my home. We share bonsai as very good friends, almost brothers in the art. Chuck was very hesitant when I asked him to display a piece in our Kazari, he did not feel that he had the chops to succeed.

Chuck built the stand, with my help, for the tree. He did not spend alot on wood so decided to paint the stand. I think it worked adding a sharp contrast to the bleached wood of the great formal upright C. juniper. He dug that juniper with Harry Hirao 35 years ago. The waterfall scroll was ordered from Japan and was dilivered the week before the event.Talk about timing.
I think the composition was very good and my only criticism of the piece was that the accent was on a stone. I also did not like the domestic flowers in the accent and would like to have seen some alpine weeds.

Sixth Place
Kenji Miyata

"Cloudy Design"

This piece was a very evocative piece. It makes very good use of "white space". The nana juniper is the finest I have ever seen and is displayed on an antique Japanese stand worth more than all the trees in the museum. The small maple tree used for a accent tree is very well done. Kenji chose a more rustic, not overyl manicured maple tree on purpose. The accent tree must not compete for attention and lend support. This it does masterfully. The scroll is unusal being fired tiles put together on a plank holder. I did not get a close up but it depicts a cloudy scene along a Japanese river.

Sixth Place (tie)
Seiji Shiba

"Serene Feeling"

I have seen Seiji's C. juniper many times around the state. I have never seen it in this type setting. It is a very large tree being nearly 45 inches tall and a trunk as thick as your thigh. The branches are marvelous and it provokes thought when it is seen. being possibly a 1000 years old it was around when the Anazazi indians ruled the southwest, and Mayans were ruling South America. It is too bad that there was not enough room to fully execute what Seiji had in mind, because he brought a scroll to use with this piece. Hideko told him that using the scroll would diminish the powerfull tree and to not use it. I think she was right. We will never know where it may have placed with the scroll being a very powerful tree.

Eighth Place
Hanford Bonsai Society

"Crossing the River"

This piece was a filler piece that remained to be judged since it was offered by a club. Some people at the last minute cancled due to trees not looking sharp enough or things like that. Bob Hilvers and I worked together on this piece and it lacked many things to make it a top notch piece. The tree is a nana in a semi cascade form on a rock cliff. the rock offers enough vertcality to give the viewer the message that it is a cliff. The scroll depicts a fishernam in a boat going down the river. The accent is a bronze turtle that is found near these rivers.

Ninth Place
Al Keppler

"Butterflies and Barbs"

My inspiration came from drives with my wife on Sunday afternoons in spring when the foothill are carpeted with wild flowers. I live very close to the beginning or end (depending on how you look at it) of Hiway 49 the golden Hiway. This is the hiway the traversus the foothills where all the gold was found in 1849 and brought about western expansion in the USA.

Many of the fences around this area are nearly a hundred years old and the barbed wire is brittle and will break instead of bend. The fence posts are rittled with acorn holes by woodpeckers hiding their winter snack. My piece exhibits a pyracantha full of barbs with an accent piece of wild grasses and a woodpecker holed fence post with more barbs on wire. To soften the harsh barbs I selected a picture of a butterfly fliiting over the wild flowers.

The head judge felt this was the most evocative piece in the entire exhibit. Never before had he seen an accent piece so "out of the box" before. When Bob Hilvers and I set this annual affair up it was out intention to highlight more of an American flare on display. Due to Larry Ragle, (Head Judge) being classically trained in Kei-do in Japan, that is what he judged on. My piece had too many man elements in it. The fence post, the barbed wire, the domestic lilies in the scroll, and so points were deducted for that. Larry commented that had I taken the tree out and displayed the scroll and accent only I probably would have won on technical merit alone for those two pieces of art.

As a side note... being a Japanese Museum and many Japanese people attending, it was brought to my attention that five people asked about my use of barbed wire in my composition. They asked if I was trying to show peace thru the relationship of butteyfly and internment camp. On hearing this it brought goose flesh to my arms, in fact it does again as I type. To know that I stirred that type of emotion in people viewing my work when that was not even a consideration of mine was mind blowing. To me that is the essence of Bonsai display.


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