Author Topic: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo  (Read 6493 times)

Larry Gockley

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2010, 01:20 PM »
Thanks for posting the pictures. It's always good to see other peoples projects.  Not to second guess the judge, and not seeing them in 3d, I however like the 3rd place tree over the 1st place. The 3rd place tree has more movement / character and just looks like a much older tree. Thanks. Larry
 

Don Blackmond

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2010, 01:25 PM »
If I had to choose a Best of Show award, this might be the winner (excluding my entries from consideration to avoid bias).
I really like this tree.  I love the tree/pot combo.  Its very healthy.  Great uniformity in leaf size.  I may like a little more separation and less fullness of the canopy, but it works well as is.  It looks super.
This is Matthew H. Ouwinga's tree.
I like the stand a lot, but think it is too dainty for the tree.  Jay Kolaya made the stand.
I like accent but would prefer to see a little less pot and more plant.
Anyway, this would be in the top group, and may be #1.
 

Don Blackmond

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2010, 01:54 PM »
Thanks for posting the pictures. It's always good to see other peoples projects.  Not to second guess the judge, and not seeing them in 3d, I however like the 3rd place tree over the 1st place. The 3rd place tree has more movement / character and just looks like a much older tree. Thanks. Larry

Larry, I don't think its wrong to second guess the judge.  Just because he is the judge does not make him right, it just means he gets to decide.  Certainly, by this, I do not mean to disrespect the judge.  Respect his decision, but judge for yourself.  We all have our own viewpoints.  We can judge these offerings for ourselves, and we should do so. 

One interesting aspect to these contests is that there typically is no clearly correct answer.  If there are multiple judges, they may not each reach the same results and may give awards by concensus.  Most of the time, there is a handful of top offerings and the order is debatable.  Then when you have to select a single tree award, like Best of Show, it becomes very difficult.

Personally, I find it very informative to judge the entries and force myself to explain "why" part.  It makes me look closer and become more conscious of tree design and elements that make and break a good tree.  It also makes me appreciate the challenges faced by a judge like Mike Hagedorn.

In any case, like you, I might have chosen the yew over the pine.  I was not present for Mike's rationale for his decisions.  Maybe, after listening to him, I might wholeheartedly agree with him.  Maybe...  :o
 

Dustin Mann

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2010, 04:19 PM »
Thanks Don for posting these photos. I had trees in show both last year as well as about 10yrs. ago. First I have to say that both your trees(especially the Bald Cypress) had uniformity a leaf (needle) size and excellent balance/taper. Branches grow in direction trunk leans. Cypress looked very old(Not juvenile trunk) My opinion(which means nothing) is that Bald Cyprees easily deserved best in show!! Unfortunetely, the judge had a pre-conceived Japanese critique formed(probably form with scale of 1 to 5) A very young looking tree can get a high score on those forms. I had tropical trees with huge nebari marked down to(1) for no moss and dislike of oribe glaze pot for willowleaf. (I am not 'sour grapes' as got several blue ribbons of merit) My point is that American shows with American trees(and sometimes western styles) are often discounted by comparison to Japanese criteria. Wonder what Walter Pall's or Robert Steven, James Smith's trees(if put Different name of exhibitor) would get.   Dustin Mann :) :) :)
 

John Kirby

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2010, 09:26 PM »
Hi Don, nice selection for the show, beautiful work. There is a lot of debate on judged shows, I can see that there was certainly a good deal of quality there. Matt's tridents arecalways well presented, they certainly look great here. I would really likevto see these trees in winter, get a better sense of where they are developmentally.

Anyway, thanks for posting, I really need to get out to the show one of these years......

John
 

Don Blackmond

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2010, 10:08 PM »
I've seen them defoliated, but not recently.  It was about 4 years ago when I saw the ror defoliated.  The tree looked very good then, and it looks great right now.  Pretty sure I have some photos of that tree without leaves.  I'll look.

John this show has 3 classes.  Novice, open and professional.  Imagine the difficulty when all species and sizes compete against one another.  Fun stuff.  You should attend and bring some trees to show.  Come raise the bar.
 

William N. Valavanis

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2010, 11:11 PM »
I enjoyed seeing the photos from the show. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend this year, but have displayed for over thirty years in this great show. I missed seeing many of my long time friends and seeing some great bonsai too.

I have a few thoughts on the comments posted here and these are based on my personal observations for over 45 years, both as an exhibitor and judge on several continents.

Of the bonsai photos you showed, clearly Jim Doyle’s Eastern white pine was the best. I saw this bonsai at the US National Bonsai Exhibition and was taken away with it. Both Suthin and I tried to purchase it, but Jim did not want to sell it. As a judge, Michael knows well that there is more to selecting the best tree because of only the design. It is very difficult to get a good Eastern white pine bonsai, especially one which is as graceful as this bonsai. As to the wiring, many shows in America tend to be very strict. It is common in Japan to take trees to be professionally wired prior to showing. In fact, one year Mr. Kimura wired nearly every one of the conifers in the Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition. As to the shaping of the branches, this Eastern white pine bonsai was wired by a professional artist trained in Japan, Marco Invernizzi.

I don’t know what you are talking about with the Cork bark Chinese elm. I’ve been attending bonsai exhibitions in Japan for over 30 years and bonsai with inverse taper are not highly prized. When was the last bonsai show in Japan you attended?

As far as the oribe (green mottled glaze) for the ficus goes, perhaps Michael does not like the pot color to be identical to that of the foliage. This is important and most artists tend to appreciate a contrast in pot colors rather than have it match.

Yes, the bald cypress is large and looks well balanced with the beautiful pot, good match. However this bonsai is not refined and does not show the many years of care and training other bonsai show. Many bonsai in America as well as in Europe do not show an “aged” appearance which cannot be quickened. There is more to a fine quality bonsai than just good design.

There is nothing wrong with stating your own preferences to the bonsai as to the judging. But, perhaps in this instance, Michael was selected to be the judge because of his knowledge, taste and background.

I hope these constructive comments  on your observations will help to explain why the judge selected these fine bonsai.

Bill
 

shimsuki

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #22 on: August 24, 2010, 01:35 AM »
Thanks for posting all those Don!
I moved into college last weekend so my father and I were able to attend like we had hoped. I would have to see the trees in person, but the eastern white pine does look like a killer tree. Along with the trident and the yew.


Shimsuki
 

Don Blackmond

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2010, 09:37 AM »
Bill its too bad you missed the show.  I'm sure you could have added value to it.  There were at least 4 other vendors/professionals who had to miss also due to one reason or another.  That's unfortunate, but there was good representation despite that.

I'm glad you posted your comments.  You've seen the winning tree in person so you know how nice it is.  Like I said, it’s a great tree, worthy of being in the top 3 and winning an award.  You may have missed my point about the wiring.  I did not criticize the wiring or the person who wired it, I just did not like that the whole tree was wired.  Regarding the comment on inverse taper, I'm not sure the number of shows I have attended in Japan makes a difference to whether it is true concerning corkbark species such as nishiki jbp for example. 

I didn’t comment on my trees, and certainly wouldn’t suggest that they were better than others or deserved higher accolades.  Hopefully, you did not interpret my comments that way.  I was actually surprised that the oak placed.  The trees I submitted had their issues, no doubt.  Interestingly, your comment about the "beautiful pot, good match" may actually drive home my point that judges have different opinions.  My score for Tree/Container Unity was 0 out of 7 points.

Regarding your last comment, I think it goes without saying that Michael was selected as judge because of his knowledge, taste and background.  He is very knowledgeable and skilled.  I respect him and his opinions, just as I do you, and hopefully the feeling is reciprocal.
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2010, 09:47 AM »
Bill, great comments and insight.  An Don, thanks for taking the time to take and post the photos.  It certainly looks like a great show, and good to see someone as respected as Michael judging.  I would love to hear (read) more discussion and thought from others, and if you can remember more of what the judging discussions were.
 

William N. Valavanis

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #25 on: August 24, 2010, 10:16 AM »
Don:
Thanks for your comments! I really do like your container for the Bald cypress.

As far as inverse taper goes, here again, in addition to personal taste, you must consider the species. Nishiki black pine, or Cork bark Japanese black pine are nearly always grafted. Some people like to show off how thick the bark is in relation to the actual skinny trunk.
However, in the case of Cork bark Chinese elm, they are not grafted, usually grown from cuttings, occasionally by air layers, so the skinny trunk view at the bottom is not a factor here. You must consider the species.
At the US National Bonsai Exhibition there was not heavy wiring showing in front of the bonsai, but like Japan, fine wiring is often appreciated for the sheer beauty of the application.

Although exhibits are meant to be educational, too often, especially by Westerners, they try to find something wrong or ugly with the bonsai and forge to simply sit back and just appreciate the beauty of the bonsai and the presentation of the artist.

Just my thoughts.

Bill
 

mcpesq817

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #26 on: August 24, 2010, 10:55 AM »
Looks like a really nice show.  I have relatives in the Chicago area, so I think I'll have to plan a trip to see them around the time for next year's show :D

Don, thanks for taking the time to post the pictures and congratulations.
 

Don Blackmond

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #27 on: August 24, 2010, 11:17 AM »
Bill your point about the species is well taken.  

Your comment on Westerners focus on negativity got me thinking.  I'd love to hear you compare this venue to the others you are familiar with in the USA in terms of the environment, people and overall experience.  I spent some time hanging back and watching the attendees' reactions to the trees and displays.  It was almost as enjoyable as studying the trees displayed.  
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #28 on: August 24, 2010, 11:40 AM »


At first viewing this thread my initial thought about the pine was that it looks a little too weak, or perhaps just not filled in after it's latest styling?  The lower branch in particular.  Also, the needle length seems to be uneven.  It could be the time of year, the angle of the photo, or just the loss of 2-d vs 3-d.

Those were thoughts before know it was eastern white pine.  Knowing it is EWP doesn't really change those thoughts, but adds, wow.  I've never seen an EWP look quite so good as bonsai.  Once the needle length is more consistent and it's recovered(?) from the styling that tree will be absolutely killer.  (Not that it's not already, but just room for improvement on an already outstanding tree)
 

JRob

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Re: 2010 Mid America Bonsai Expo
« Reply #29 on: August 24, 2010, 08:24 PM »
The art of Bonsai has captivated me ever since I bought Simsuki his first tree in August 2008. Becoming involved at 53 was both a curse and a blessing. A blessing because at this age of my life, my career affords me the means to do what I want and a curse because time is running out. I do not have the luxury of a very long life ahead of me so developing the trees I desire from scratch is not an option. There just are not the years required. Thirty years or slightly more is just a blink in the eye in the life of a bonsai. Just look at the trees in the national collection.

The lessons that I have quickly learned are buy from reputable sources, buy quality material, buy the trunk and buy only trees worth of being chosen - quality over quantity. Study, study, study and learn, learn, learn.

So my question to my teacher this last year was what criteria should I use in judging a tree, not because I was interested in competing but rather because I wanted a more empirical way to define and compare my choices and increase the quality of my own collection. Even just a casual flip through the catalogue of the famous japanese shows reminds us that not all bonsai are created equal. Some receive a show prize and others are designated important bonsai masterpieces. Yet I'd venture to say all of us would be pleased to own any tree they present. Bonsai is clearly more than just a tree in a pot and we all know one when we see one.

I now take the time to score every tree that I am considering and I am scoring the trees I own with the intent to cull my collection for continuous improvement. The system my teacher recommended uses both horticultural (1/4 of the overall score) and aesthetic (3/4 of the overall score) considerations and assigns numerical points which weigh 14 categories with weighted subsections in each category. The total score possible is 100. Everything "from is the species suitable to bonsai" to "does the tree have a presence" is considered. I realize there is some subjectivity in how many points are awarded out of the total possible in any given subsection. This method does however allow me to be consistent in evaluating my choices from tree to tree and ensures my decisions are clearly thought out. Over time and continual training I hope my skill at scoring mirrors his.

My goal in all of this is that Simsuki inherits a collection that is beautiful, inspiring and a joy to care for and that he can pass it on to one of his children and so on.

JRob