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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.

"Bonsai isn't just something I do; it's part of what I am." Remark to my wife and daughter.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mid-America Show 2012, Part 1. Three "Bests."

It's been a month since the 2012 Mid-America Bonsai Show; but it's taken me a little while to process my pictures and sort out my notes. I hope you find them worth the wait.

      My first visit to the Mid-America Show in Chicago was 21 years ago, and I've gone back most years since. It's become an annual event for my family: I enjoy the bonsai, and my wife and daughter enjoy the hotel amenities. (They usually come to admire the trees at least once.)

Some of the trees are "regulars:" they're on display every year, or every two or three. When I see such a tree annually, or every other year, the intervals are long enough for me to easily perceive changes and development that have taken place since my last visit; but the intervals are short enough that I have a sense of watching a continuous story. It's very worthwhile.

Not at all symmetric, but beautifully balanced.
Every year there are also the "newcomers" that haven't been shown at the Mid-America before. The most outstanding newcomer this year, to my mind, was this collected native juniper owned and styled by Sara Rayner of Red Wing, MN. (She probably made the pot, too.) I went back to it a couple of times, and keep going back to my picture of it. I don't think I have ever seen a more striking embodiment of the fact that a bonsai can be asymmetric and visually balanced at the same time. It is a true work of art.

(I apologize for the quality of some of my photos in this post. For some reason that I have yet to figure out, I sometimes have trouble getting good photos in the Regenstein Center.)

Had it been up to me, this juniper might have won "Best of Show." But I can't fault Peter Warren's choice for that honor: the Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia) in my next picture, owned and styled by Jack Douthitt of Madison, WI.
"Best of Show," 2012 Mid-America Bonsai Show. Chinese elm, Jack Douthitt.

 Regrettably, my pictures of this tree all turned out poorly. (All. Very frustrating.) This is the best one; please take my word for it that the tree looks much better in actual fact!

 This elm won a blue ribbon last year (almost as if it was building up to taking the top award this time around.) Ryan Neill, last year's Visiting Master at the Mid-America, praised it particularly on two points. First, not only is the trunk well-tapered, but the branches are too. This shows careful work over a number of years. And second, he exclaimed, "It looks like an elm tree looks!" From the trunk movement and branch structure, down to the uro (hollow) at the base, it looks like a rugged old elm you might see growing anywhere.

Sara Rayner took the "Best of Show, Professional," award with another native juniper. This is a Rocky Mountain juniper, Juniperus scopulorum, collected by Andy Smith and originally styled by Ryan Neill. I don't know how old it is, but I suspect it's a good deal older than the USA!

"Best of Show Professional," 2012 Mid-America Show. Rocky Mountain juniper, Sara Rayner.

:-)  :-)  :-)

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