Midori Bonsai Club exhibit
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Author:  Mike Page [ Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Midori Bonsai Club exhibit

On Saturday, Sept. 23rd, I attended the annual exhibit by Midori Bonsai Club of San Jose CA.
Midori has enthusiastically embraced the concept of, if I may coin a phrase, "tripartite display", and IMHO, they have done a very fine job.
I was especially taken with this Pepper tree display.
Pepper trees aren't often seen in a bonsai show, and this one is very well done. It shows both grace and power.

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Author:  Carl Bergstrom [ Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:55 pm ]
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Hi Mike,
It's great to see the focus on getting the display right. That's an important step for bonsai shows, I believe, and I hope that other US clubs will follow. (A few already have, but I don't think it's the norm in the US as yet.)
That, and it's also a really cool tree.
Best regards,

Author:  Mike Page [ Sun Sep 24, 2006 8:13 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hi Carl
One thing that really bugs me is the display id card being placed on the table. I explained to one of the Midori members how the card becomes the fourth element in the display, and is unsightly. At my club, we always place the card just below the edge of the table so that it isn't part of the scene.
I know some view this as nit-picking, but it's picking the nits that gets it right and make the display work.

Author:  Carl Bergstrom [ Sun Sep 24, 2006 9:43 pm ]
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Thanks for pointing that out. I agree wholeheartedly. It's not nitpicking, it's professionalism -- and as you say, that's what we require if we're going make artistic bonsai display work.
The organizers of the PacNW convention this month took a similar care with display. They chose to hand out printed sheets with information about all of the trees, rather than clutter the display tables with information cards. I thought that was a good choice. You may have seen some of the photos from that show elsewhere on the web; I'll post a gallery of photos with lights and backdrop, along with a review from that show shortly.
With my best regards,

Author:  Mike Page [ Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:35 pm ]
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Hi Carl,
Heres an image with the id card removed. It does make a difference IMO.
The owner of the Pepper tree is a long time Midori member. A few years ago, he joined Sei Boku Bonsai Kai, my club in San Mateo, about 35 miles north of where he lives in San Jose. His reason for joining was, "Sei Boku puts on the best show in the area".
Since that time, Midori built backdrops based on my design and is becoming a leader in good display. This sort of progress is very gratifying.

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Author:  Attila Soos [ Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:51 pm ]
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Thanks for the cool display, Mike.
Finally I am seing a pepper tree, these trees are tragically overlooked in the California bonsai community, although they are prime candidates for large bonsai.
This has nothing to do with the display, but I need to point out nevertheless. It's a deficiency that is prevalent throughout the North American bonsai scene, and somehow always gets overlooked.
It has to do with anatomical balance of the tree, and the age of the branches: compared to the power and character of the great trunk, the branches are juvenile. As a result, instead of looking like a real tree, the specimen displays what I call "the bonsai symptome". This, of course, is the result of the shorcuts one has to take, in order to create a bonsai in a relatively short time. But, it needs to be pointed out that, when striving for perfection, the lower branches of a bonsai should display the same age as the trunk itself.
Hopefully the artist realizes this shortcoming, and takes some steps to create those powerful, thick lower branches. When that happens, this tree will be truely magnificent.

Author:  Carl Bergstrom [ Mon Sep 25, 2006 3:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

Mike, that's wonderful. I've heard the same about Midori through Boon.
You're right, the adjusted photograph is a big improvement. While we are talking about the details of the display, do you share my sentiment that the accent is not quite powerful enough to balance the display out fully?
Best regards,

Author:  Mike Page [ Mon Sep 25, 2006 5:57 pm ]
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Carl, I surely agree with you on the accent. My impression when I first saw it was that it's too small. Also the color and shape seem too similar to the crown of the tree. I think that a flowering accent thats larger and has some horizontal movement would be a better contrast with the tree.
Attila, I understand what your saying, but we'll have to agree to disagree on your point. I feel that in the case of a weeping style bonsai, slender and slightly sinuous branches are appropriate.
Regarding the artist/owner fattening up the branches, he's in his mid sixties, and better have a very long life ahead of him to accomplish this.

Author:  Attila Soos [ Tue Sep 26, 2006 1:10 pm ]
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Here is what I've meant. This penjing displays the correct anatomical proportions of an old pepper tree. As we can see, the first branch (on the right side, growing upward) looks as old as the trunk. Even the higher branches show some character.
Aiming for the proportions shown here would greatly improve the tree. ... ing104.jpg
I am sure that you recognize that this is a very high quality tree in the weeping form. It is one of the best in the world, of its kind.
This is how old pepper trees look like. Each branch looks almost like a tree in itself.
You are right that the drooping branches look good when they are slender and sinuous. But these branches are NOT primary branches, but secondary ones. It's just a little anatomical detail, that people tend to overlook.
This is what I mean by people taking shortcuts. Instead of building the naturally occurring structure of a tree (1)trunk, 2)primary branching, 3)secondary branching), we often skip the structural work and our branches show the growth character of secondary branching. Trees in nature often display powerful primary branches. They provide great character. Our bonsai should reflect that.
The presence (or absence) of powerful primary branches is a dead giveaway as to whether our bonsai was created in 5 years or 15 years. With good yamadori it's sometimes easier, since the primary branches are already there, and they show the same character as the trunk.
My comments were not to take away from the quality of the display and the tree itself. It was a suggestion just in case the owner doesn't see this tree as the final product, but as a work in progress. Instead of accepting "good", why not aim for "the best"?

Author:  Attila Soos [ Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

Mike Page wrote:
Regarding the artist/owner fattening up the branches, he's in his mid sixties, and better have a very long life ahead of him to accomplish this.

Yes, I agree that some of the suggestions may not be practical in the particular situation of the owner. These suggestions are for discussion purposes only, with little regard for practical circumstances.
Re-designing the branches would mean that this tree will not be shown again for a long time. It means that the tree needs to be planted back into a training pot, which is always larger than the appropriate bonsai pot. Then it will be necessary to grow a bunch of long sacrifice branches. So, the tree would be a mess for a while.
But, that's the price of greatness. It's not for everybody.

Author:  Dorothy Schmitz [ Tue Sep 26, 2006 7:29 pm ]
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the aged first branch is the logic
centerpoint in planning a bonsai,real good point!
The first branch not only gives character
to the tree but also leads to continuity through
the whole composition.
The first branch,supposingly beiing the oldest one,
will mostlikely be integrated into the overall flow of the tree. (Unless the artist chooses his or her own interpretation)
I just had the problem with the initial styling of a Florida elm,
which had a too young looking first branch with completely different
characteristics than the rest of the tree.
I took it off.

Author:  Peter Evans [ Sun Feb 25, 2007 5:55 pm ]
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Isn't it funny how a simple posting can develop into a major talking point.
Personally, I have never been able to understand the link between large trunks and tiny branches. Now, i can relate them to "developement" but not to show trees.
When you talk about the "first" branch being of the same age as the trunk,again, i am with you on development but not with a show tree.
That should have "Age" in all it's branches.
After all, Most branches are only 1 year appart on a real tree.
Surely the essence of "Bonsai" is age, and that cannot be shown with THIN branches on Thick trunks. Peter.

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