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The Problem With American Bonsai
http://www.artofbonsai.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=930
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Author:  Vance Wood [ Mon Jan 22, 2007 8:54 pm ]
Post subject: 

That is of course the real problem once you decide you have issues; doing something about it. For me it starts at home, a complete and utter reassessment of every tree I posses. It's not good enough to point something out, you have to decide to do something about it yourself, otherwise we are just a bunch of Chicken Littles proclaiming that the sky is falling.
Not everyone is going to approach this conundrum in the same way. Many are convinced they are the best they are going to be. Me--I am not happy where I am in bonsai. I've been growing bonsai for fifty years and up until recently I felt I was doing pretty well. Others are just starting out and can look at things with fresh eyes. Others still will make excuses and continue lying to themselves.
I have decided to start over and look at everything I have as raw material ready to be worked on and not finished bonsai ready for show. Before I die I would like to have one bonsai that I can look at and say that's as good as it gets.

Author:  Dorothy Schmitz [ Mon Jan 22, 2007 11:09 pm ]
Post subject: 

Colin,
good to hear from you,welcome back!
The idea of a main exhibit event is overdue and managable.Are you still
actively working on it?Is anyone seriously working on it?
Regards,
Dorothy

Author:  Colin Lewis [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 12:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

Dorothy Schmitz wrote:
Colin,
The idea of a main exhibit event is overdue and managable.Are you still
actively working on it?Is anyone seriously working on it?

Overdue, yes. Managable, I guess so.
It's a horse and cart situation. First a viable body to host the events, then corporate sponsorship, then a group of forward-thinking, dynamic and committed people who are not afraid to take action.
You offering?

Author:  John Dixon [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:33 am ]
Post subject: 

It seems that we have difficulty separating the individual artistic merit of specimens with the want of events that show them.
Are we saying that Americans are not skilled artisans, they don't know how to display, both, or something else?
Poppycock says I. Colin remarked on the logistical dilemmas that Americans face for top-quailty shows and I believe that is the most significant hurdle we face. Funny how "money" was quickly identified as a way to improve upon that, or more correctly, how the cost of such events was identified.
Great artisans exist in America. When people were commenting on the historic past of art in Europe I found it interesting that the fact America is made up largely of those same groups, was not really considered. It's not like they left the shores of Europe and all was forgotten. That is unless we are assuming all of the skilled stayed in Europe.
Our deficiency seems to be exposure. I agree that much has to improve in that regard. But then again, "Rome wasn't built in a day".

Author:  Colin Lewis [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

John Dixon wrote:
Our deficiency seems to be exposure. I agree that much has to improve in that regard. But then again, "Rome wasn't built in a day".

You're right, John. Exposure to the best makes you want to do better. When you do better, the best will want to get even better. And so it goes.

Author:  Dorothy Schmitz [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

Colin Lewis wrote:
Dorothy Schmitz wrote:
Colin,
The idea of a main exhibit event is overdue and managable.Are you still
actively working on it?Is anyone seriously working on it?

Overdue, yes. Managable, I guess so.
It's a horse and cart situation. First a viable body to host the events, then corporate sponsorship, then a group of forward-thinking, dynamic and committed people who are not afraid to take action.
You offering?


Is there any thought of including roof organizations?
-Dorothy

Author:  Colin Lewis [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

Dorothy Schmitz wrote:
Is there any thought of including roof organizations?

Not sure what you mean by "roof organizatons"?

Author:  Walter Pall [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:54 am ]
Post subject: 

Dorothy Schmitz wrote:

Is there any thought of including roof organizations?
-Dorothy

Dorothy,
all important international exhibits in Europe are being organized WITHOUT roof organizations. The roof organizations are maybe guests at these events, but they are not involved. This is done on purpose to get ahead and not being hindered by politics. History has shown extensively that by and large national organizations and international organizations are utterly uncapable of organizing the kind of exhibits or conventios that we speak about here.
The main obstacle is the tendency of organizations to compromise, to be nice to everybody, 'to give everybody a chance'. The selection for the big European shows is done by ruthless individuals who want the best trees and don't care who owns them. Well, almost, but close anyway.
And then the organizations are way too slow and cannot get their act together. The have proven to be unalble to supply funds too.
There is the strong feeling of all those who organize the important events in Europe that any attempt to make the established bonsai organizations responsible will end in disaster.
Walter

Author:  John Dixon [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 11:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

Colin Lewis wrote:
John Dixon wrote:
Our deficiency seems to be exposure. I agree that much has to improve in that regard. But then again, "Rome wasn't built in a day".

You're right, John. Exposure to the best makes you want to do better. When you do better, the best will want to get even better. And so it goes.

Colin,
It sure did, and does, for me. I am completely and utterly convinced that once you see quality bonsai - and have an understanding of what the term truly means - you cannot help but strive to attain the same level (with a desire to even surpass it).
I highly value the opportunities I have had to do that. I can only imagine what that is like on a global scale. You, Walter, Bill and some others here do know. That is why I (and others here) value your opinions so highly.
As far as talent, I have seen some talent from around the world. Although I am far from an authority on the subject, I can say without reservation that I know one individual (locally and a member of my club) who has a talent for growing stock that rivals many of the best. This guy is the real deal, and the vast majority of his "collection" is in $1-5 growing containers. He does display from time-to-time, but most people do not have an appreciation of what talent he has. I can only imagine how many are like him throughout the U.S. While styling is only one aspect of bonsai appreciation, I find it to be the most important. I figure (theoretically) a guy who can style a pine with such awe that you don't even notice the pink polka dot pot and cardboard stand is a force to be reckoned with - and envied.

Author:  John Dixon [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 11:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

Walter Pall wrote:
Dorothy Schmitz wrote:

Is there any thought of including roof organizations?
-Dorothy

Dorothy,
all important international exhibits in Europe are being organized WITHOUT roof organizations. The roof organizations are maybe guests at these events, but they are not involved. This is done on purpose to get ahead and not being hindered by politics. History has shown extensively that by and large national organizations and international organizations are utterly uncapable of organizing the kind of exhibits or conventios that we speak about here.
The main obstacle is the tendency of organizations to compromise, to be nice to everybody, 'to give everybody a chance'. The selection for the big European shows is done by ruthless individuals who want the best trees and don't care who owns them. Well, almost, but close anyway.
And then the organizations are way too slow and cannot get their act together. The have proven to be unalble to supply funds too.
There is the strong feeling of all those who organize the important events in Europe that any attempt to make the established bonsai organizations responsible will end in disaster.
Walter

Walter,
Bonsai organizations in the U.S. without politics might really be our death warrant here! You probably just highlighted a problem that the U.S. can take to the highest level of stupidity. We (the U.S.) are completely out of control in that regard.
I put the U.S. up against ANY country when it comes to political stupidity.
Let's hope the joy of bonsai can overcome our political arrogance.
John

Author:  Dorothy Schmitz [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 12:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

Colin Lewis wrote:
Dorothy Schmitz wrote:
Is there any thought of including roof organizations?

Not sure what you mean by "roof organizatons"?

WBFF,BCI,ABS,GSBF,MBA,BSF
-Dorothy

Author:  Dorothy Schmitz [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 12:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

Walter Pall wrote:
Dorothy Schmitz wrote:

Is there any thought of including roof organizations?
-Dorothy

Dorothy,
all important international exhibits in Europe are being organized WITHOUT roof organizations. The roof organizations are maybe guests at these events, but they are not involved. This is done on purpose to get ahead and not being hindered by politics. History has shown extensively that by and large national organizations and international organizations are utterly uncapable of organizing the kind of exhibits or conventios that we speak about here.
The main obstacle is the tendency of organizations to compromise, to be nice to everybody, 'to give everybody a chance'. The selection for the big European shows is done by ruthless individuals who want the best trees and don't care who owns them. Well, almost, but close anyway.
And then the organizations are way too slow and cannot get their act together. The have proven to be unalble to supply funds too.
There is the strong feeling of all those who organize the important events in Europe that any attempt to make the established bonsai organizations responsible will end in disaster.
Walter

Walter,
I understand what you mean and for some reason it reminds me of the
2005 Worldbonsai Convention in Washington..
Walter,how do you organize the neccessary monetary funds for such
events in Europe?Do you approach professionals and investors?Or is it
privately funded?
-Dorothy

Author:  Walter Pall [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 12:52 pm ]
Post subject: 

Dorothy,
all these events are organized on a shoe string. They find a good venue that it cheap. Often a big dealer organizes it on his premises - no rent. They don't pay for bringing trees, sometimes they charge for bringing trees. They ask entrance fees, like 15 Euro per day at Ginko (US$ 19). They don't pay for demonstrations. They don't wine and dine people. Everybody pays his dinner and his beer and his bed and his ride, certanily ALL bonsai politicians do that, they are just about tolerated.
Thanks God raffle business is not yet discovered here. Convention dinners are great fun with good food, often music with dance, lots of good discussions. Europeans celebrate way into the night until morning dawn and are back the next morning. No such nuisance as endless raffles that mainly are to finance organizations. No such thing as auctioning off the demo trees. They are not for sale or raffle or anything. Demo material is universes better most of the time therefore. Sometimes boring speeches though. And all that glitters is not gold. But it certainly it is different.
Eurpean conventions are NOT about collection money for organizations. Organizations are not highly respected by and large. The events usually are non-profit and they are happy to break even.
So this is quite a different culture. It is about having fun and about the crowds, not about the leaders. Well, sort of. At least much more so.
Don't believe it? Come and see.

Author:  Dorothy Schmitz [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 2:17 pm ]
Post subject: 

Walter,
different country different culture,as you said.
Rather than having local fair mentality organized (?) conventions, I do not completely dislike the way how events are structured here.
I aggree,the rafflemania should concentrate more on quality and collectors' items,then on bottles of wine or chopsticks.
However,the raffles are the moneymakers for the convention and are the main income for the roof organizations.I believe the organizations are part of the infrastructure needed to approach bonsai as a teaching and learning experience on state and country level.Amerika is a very large country and we need roof organizations to operate the bonsai business.
Let's remember,we were discussing the possibility that American bonsai
might be limping behind a litle bit.We agreed upon the fact that we need a main event to observe the quality of American trees.
I share your concern about a collaberation between organizations,since
communication and politics can slow down the effort.
But I believe it is important to include the roof organizations in the work
that has to be done beforehand.Could be things like viewing exhibits on state level to choose the trees you want to show at the main event,rather than "invitation only".
This would ensure a better quality of bonsai beeing exhibited and it would
serve the whole topic on what this discussion is based upon.
Am I wrong?
-Dorothy

Author:  Colin Lewis [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 2:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

Dorothy Schmitz wrote:
.... we need roof organizations to operate the bonsai business....
... Am I wrong?


Er... Yes.
Roof organizations, as Walter said, are primarily concerned with fund-raising and that inevitably involves catering for the lowest common denominator.
They run the clubs. The business runs itself. The artists must now find their way.

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