Welcome to my bonsai blog!

Welcome to my bonsai blog!

Look around! Use the Search box, browse the Archive, and leave comments. Click on any picture to enlarge it.
I would be honored to have you follow my posts. There are two ways to do that.
-- If you have your own blog, use Join this site
to have notifications of my posts sent to your blog's reading list.
-- If you don't have a blog,
use Follow by Email: new-post alerts will be sent to your email address. Pictures aren't included; that's just how Blogger does it. For the pictures you come here!
Fora and vendors that I can recommend from experience are listed in the right sidebar.
For more about the ads, and just why I enabled them, please see "About the ads," below.
"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.

Monday, August 22, 2016

39th Mid-America Bonsai Exhibition: Bests of Show

     Again, "Bests" is not a typo; I meant to write it that way. Two "Best of Show" awards are given at the Mid-America, one for Open class and one for Professional.

This year the "Best of Show" (Open) went to this stunning Sierra juniper (Juniperus occidentalis var. australis,) owned and styled by Tim Priest of Michigan.

"Best of Show," Open class, 2016 Mid-America Bonsai Exhibition. Sierra juniper, Juniperus occidentalis var. australis.
Owner and artist, Tim Priest.
Colin Lewis, this year's Visiting Master, couldn't seem to find enough good things to say about it during the Friday evening Critique! The tree is in superb health. The balance of deadwood to live bark is excellent. In styling, the artist worked with the natural movement of the tree, rather than trying to force the tree into a stylistic "box." The incidental details of design and of grooming were not neglected: for example, the undersides of the pads are all clean, with no shoots hanging down. (No "droopies," in Roy Nagatoshi's term.) In Colin's judgment, no better pot could have been found for the tree, and while the pot was well-oiled, it wasn't at all shiny. The mossing was very well done. I think I heard a note of awe in Colin Lewis' voice as he discussed this bonsai!

The only thing he might suggest, Colin said, if he were asked how the tree could be improved, would be that it wouldn't hurt if the jin and shari were just a little bit lighter. But he hesitated audibly to even say that much on the negative side!

The tree is a yamadori, collected in the Sierra Nevada of California. I didn't hear the collector's name. It's estimated to be 300 years old, and has been in bonsai training for six years, I believe.

Prior to winning "Best of Show" in Chicago this past weekend, this tree won second place in the Artisans Cup competition in Portland, OR, last year. And it came within a fraction of a point (literally) of taking "Best of Show" at the Michigan All-State Bonsai Show in May. I think it is going to keep winning major awards for a while. (Ya think?) If I heard correctly, Tim Priest plans to enter it in the National Bonsai Exhibition, hosted by William Valavanis, in September.

And speaking of Valavanis: what can I say about an artist who may well have won more awards than any other bonsai practitioner in North America? Once again Bill took the "Best of Show Professional" award, and once again the tree fully deserved it!

"Best of Show Professional," 2016 Mid-America Bonsai Exhibition.
Dwarf Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris 'Beuvronensis.'
Owner and artist, William N. Valavanis.
This tree, Colin Lewis said, shows the effects of meticulous care and painstaking work over many years. (That might confirm a report I heard that Bill grew the tree from seed.) When you work with a tree for many years, Lewis pointed out, you get to know it well - not just the species, but that individual tree. After a while, he said, it's as if the tree and the artist are working together.

Besides the skillful styling and the excellent taper, Colin pointed out that, as with Tim Priest's Sierra juniper, the tree was clean and well detailed. The pot and the tree are a perfect match, he said, and once again the mossing was superbly done.

But what Colin Lewis particularly praised on this pine was the nebari. "You will not find," he stated flatly, "a better nebari on a pine anywhere." The nebari also showed the result of good long-term planning, he said. When the pine was a seedling, the roots were spread out (as is common practice) to develop an eventual nebari. But the grower (I presume Valavanis) thought ahead, and spread them out enough that the eventual nebari wasn't swallowed by the expanding trunk. What good does it do, Colin asked, to spread the roots out four inches if the trunk eventually engulfs the first three?

After listening to all Colin Lewis had to say about this pine's nebari, I went back the next day and got a close-up.

Nebari of William Valavanis' Scots pine. Besides the root structure, notice the different varieties of moss
that add visual interest, and the lichens here and there.

Bonsai like these prompt me to think, Here's what can be done. And while I may not be able to match what these artists have done, I'll be the better for trying. And my trees will be better too.

:-)  :-)  :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment