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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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

38th Annual Mid-America Bonsai Exhibit, Chicago; Part I

     When I'm late with a birthday or anniversary greeting, I just say that I'm trying to extend the celebration. Can I get away with that excuse now? The Mid-America was in August!

But, as always, it was well worth the time to attend. Here are some visual highlights.

"Best-of-Show" went to this 3-point display exhibited by Gary Andes of Tennessee. The main tree is a trident maple and
the secondary bonsai is a 'Kokonoe' Japanese white pine. At first glance I thought the secondary tree too big in relation to
the primary one, but after looking again (a few times) I can accept the judge's decision.
Close-up of the primary bonsai. Two features I especially appreciate: the very natural look of the root-to-rock
interface, and the superb match of the pot color to the bark!
Bill Valavanis makes a habit of going home with the "Best-of-Show-Professional" award from the Mid-America. But
he earns it. This larch raft planting has been in training since sometime before 1983.
Mark Fields' award-winning Rocky Mountain juniper will only get better with time, but it is already an
outstanding example of a bonsai that is balanced without being symmetrical.
I'm not sure whose display of mame this is (my apologies to the artist,) but he or she
has certainly come up with a creative and effective display stand!
Just a nice hornbeam. The judge thought so too, obviously.
This bunjin Black Hills spruce by Andy Smith almost gives the impression of being
windswept while being upright - a combination, by the way, that does occur in nature.
I believe this small neagari tree is an azalea. Whatever it is, it is well-done and the display is creative.
I came back to this quince bonsai several times, just to enjoy the skillful match of the pot color to the tree!
And speaking of pot color, only on my second look did I realize just how brightly colored this Chinese pot is!
Yet, within the composition, it doesn't overpower the other elements or pull the eye away from the pyracantha it holds.
That took a well-trained eye. Another tip-o'-the-hat to Bill Valavanis.
Who says the art of bonsai can't be whimsical? The accent plant at the top of the "slide" is a juniper seedling.

The American Bonsai Society always has a presence at the Mid-America, selling books and other items as well as offering free bonsai information in various ways: such as this demonstration of a raft-planting-in-progress. The tree is a Thuja, probably T. occidentalis.

The original rootball is on the left; you can see the measures that have been taken to keep it intact and easy to water.
The small blue arrows point to the section of lower trunk that still connects the rootball to the developing raft.  Once
the half-buried  upper trunk has enough roots, it will be separated from the original rootball and the branches
developed into the trunks of the new multi-trunk planting
Regrettably, the scheduled headliner for this year's Mid-America had to withdraw a few weeks before the event. Ivan Watters, long-time bonsai artist and teacher and a former curator of the Garden's own bonsai collection, was asked to stand in, almost literally at the last minute. In my opinion, he did an outstanding job, especially under the circumstances. Kudos, Ivan!

Here are a few pictures from the headliner's styling demonstration on Saturday afternoon. Please forgive the quality of some of the pictures; my little camera still doesn't always play nice in the Regenstein Center auditorium.

The demo tree was a collected Rocky Mountain juniper with an estimated age of 125 years. Ivan was particularly taken
by a smaller branch that can't be distinguished in this picture but that itself resembled a tree. He believes in
"Let the tree tell you what it wants to be" (Jokn Naka) and planned his design around that branch.
Detail work.
Ivan explains a point while Tim Priest and Steve Jetzer, two of his former students, assist with wiring.
Finished for the time being. The blue arrow points to the smaller branch that Ivan decided to feature.
I look forward to seeing this tree again as it develops over time.
I'm sure I wasn't the only one surprised when Ivan mentioned in passing that he had just turned 80! I just hope I'm that active, involved, and mentally sharp when I reach that age! (If God wills that I do.)

:-)  :-)  :-)

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