The Fourth Annual AoB Halloween Gallery (2009)
This years Halloween gallery has been wrought with problems since we started working on it. Besides an abnormally low number of submissions, many of which did not meet the high standards we strive to uphold here, our first attempt mysteriously disappeared from an editors computer, leaving no trace or clue behind.
These and other problems led someone to observe that perhaps this years Halloween gallery was haunted or, even worse, cursed. This is when we realized that we were working on our fourth gallery in this series.
It is well known by bonsaists that the number four, being homophonous to the word death, is considered an unlucky number in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese cultures. This superstition is common in every day life and even affects planning and development in buildings, so much so that in East Asian many buildings do not have a fourth floor. This mirrors the American superstition with the number thirteen, and strangely enough the sum of the numbers that make up 13 is 4, 1 + 3 = 4.
Never wanting to tempt fate, we decided to skip this years Halloween gallery and instead do a compilation of the best of the previous years galleries for our readers to enjoy. For the die hard fans of the galleries, we reused all the old introductions from the past to head up each section and we included a couple of the best submissions from this year as well.
Rest assured that we won’t do a best of gallery again, well not until the thirteenth one, anyhow.
One of the most wonderful things about the art of bonsai is that, like other art forms, it can express certain moods, feelings, or impressions to the viewer. Sometimes they can suggest a darker side, a side only glimpsed occasionally on those dark chilly nights around the time called Halloween.
The bonsai in this gallery are reminiscent of the trees in such classics as Sleepy Hollow, The Wizard of OZ, The Lord of the Rings, and other literary works. Such trees that suggest darker things, that seem malevolent, that suggest being somehow alive in impossibly human manner are also present in the visual arts.
In the season of Halloween when myth turns to reality and the darkness that lies buried beneath our ordinary existence struggles to the surface, things can become more than what they were once perceived to be. Sometimes they sneak up into reality to take a bite of sanity from the unwary bonsaist, and sometimes, bonsai that were grown deep within forbidden gardens, tucked away from the sight of mere mortals, make their way into our world from those deep and foreboding gardens cultivated in the Twilight Zone.
Another year has quietly folded into the past, bringing forth into the light another Halloween Gallery to remind us that stranger, darker things lurk upon the backbenches of our gardens. These often out of sight bonsai of the shadows are perhaps waiting for the day when the weird, the scary, the warped will revolt together against the common realities and fight for a place on the front benches of the unwary.
Last year's Halloween Gallery introduced us to bonsai not often seen or appreciated before. It is our hope that this year's gallery will do the same and perhaps even spark a creative fire in all who view it. Maybe these photographs of darker inspiration will help some to shake off the shackles of the expected, the bonds of tradition and let imagination guide their creativity, even if the path leads into the realm of the otherworldly.
We wish to express our sincerest thanks to all of you who contributed to this gallery and to Walter Pall and our friends at bonsai-fachforum.de, without supporters such as you, there could be no us.
Another year has slipped into memory, leaving only faint traces of the passage of time hidden within our trees, where evidence of our skill and talent now mingle with the darker side of the subconscious. The inner personalities of the artist now appear, as they do every year at this time of haunting, to cast far different spells upon those who dare study them.
Somehow, viewing trees at this time of year reminds us that something unexplainable lurks in the subconscious of the human mind. We remember far deeper than a single lifetime, back into primeval depths and fears that haunted our ancestors. Even those of us who have never walked the remaining ancient forests of eastern Europe or the old growth forests of the America’s Pacific Northwest still feel the draw, and unease, that comes from these lurking giants of our past. Trees invoke emotions in us, whether peace, awe, or even an eerie sense that we are being watched, that we are not alone.
Clutching at our very souls, the trees now pull us to a time when light loses its importance, a time when trees are transcending into a deep dormancy after a year of racing toward the sun. Life giving foliage is discarded like a mask, revealing all, but showing less; leaving only skeletons and shadows that are but a pale reflection of the past. The days grow shorter and things that normally could not be seen in the light of day are now all too visible. This is the time when the darker side of bonsai claws its way into our minds, bringing with it a haunting chill that creeps over our now neglected benches and, if we are not careful, into our reality.
The Art of Bonsai Project’s Halloween galleries have become a tradition around the world, bringing entries from artists as distant and varied as the art form itself. These galleries also serve to inject a little levity to our otherwise serious forum, and they remind us all that, sometimes, inspiration and talent can be found off the beaten path.
It is our hope that this years Halloween gallery not only entertains our readers, but that some are inspired to look beyond the well lit display benches, behind the glossy media, and see beyond the safe, accepted norms that are often blindly quoted on-line. The clues given within this gallery can lead one to a world where talent is unshackled and the subconscious is unbound. But beware; they can also lead one to certain ruin. They can lead down dark, unexplored alleys and unmarked paths to places that most, understandably, fear to go. Those who brave the journey seek the greatest reward of all, inspiration. However, be warned, few return and even less return with their sanity.