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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.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mid-America Bonsai Show 2014. Part 1, Bests of Show.

     (That is not a typo: I meant to write "bests," plural.)

The "Best of Show" award at this year's Mid-America Show in Chicago went to this 'Arakawa' rough-bark Japanese maple, and I have to agree that the award was deserved. Owner and artist is Matt Berenger.

Best of Show, 'Arakawa' rough-bark Japanese maple, Acer palmatum.

Please be aware that the first two branches don't actually create a bar-branch effect; it just looks that way as a result of the camera angle. (My apologies.) You can see the excellent taper, good branching, strong and stable base, and the harmony between the tree and the accent plant. The pot's depth and color are perfect for this tree. But the feature that gives this bonsai "soul"
is an uro that can be seen a bit better in a closer view.

"Best of Show" 'Arakawa Acer palmaturm, closer up.
The uro starts at the lowest branch, and runs up the left side to about 1-1/2 inches (5 cm) below the canopy. But much of it is hidden at first view: you can just see  its upper end peeking out in this picture. Because much of the uro is hidden from the front, it piques the viewer's curiosity, and draws you in. On top of that, it's very authentic-looking. Kudos to Mr. Berenger!

Bill Valavanis again took the "Best of Show Professional" award, with this 'RAF Dwarf' Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris.
Pinus sylvestris 'RAF Dwarf.' Owner and artist, William N. Valavanis.
Notice the white lichens Bill included here and there with the moss! 

The branch placement and development, the strong base, the tree's health, the harmony of tree, pot and stand - this is, all around, a superb bonsai. It reflects the hundreds of hours Bill has to have put into it over many years.

In fact, don't quote me in court on this, but I believe I heard someone say that Bill grew this tree from seed. If so, it adds to the achievement, and says something about Bill's love of and skill at bonsai. (And it wouldn't be the first time he's grown a show-winner from seed.)

I said I agree with the decision by the headliner, Rodney Clemons, to award "Best of Show" to Matt Berenger's Japanese maple. But for me personally, there was another tree that ran a close second: a coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens. Here it is, below.

This would almost have been my choice for "Best of Show." Almost. Sequoia sempervirens, coast redwood.
A closer view.
Because I'm not very familiar with coast redwood, I thought at first that this bonsai was a yew. The foliage is similar, and this tree's shape is much like the shape of many centuries-old yews in Europe. But redwood or yew, it gives a superb impression of a forest patriarch, many decades old, that has overcome many storms. (To me, it looks like it could have come from the mind of Tolkien.) On top of that, the taper is good and the composition's balance is outstanding!

I'm sorry to say I don't have the name of the owner/artist. (I thought I wrote it down, but apparently I didn't.) If any reader knows that name, please let me know in a comment.

Next post: notes from the Exhibit Critique with Rodney Clemons.

:-)  :-)  :-)

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