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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 3:05 pm 
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Dorothy Schmitz wrote:
Amerika is a very large country and we need roof organizations to operate the bonsai business.

Organizations can do the teaching of bonsai, but there is no such thing as operating the business of a nation.
As Colin said, the business runs itself, based on the laws of the market.
It's worth thinking about what Walter says, that European events are run on a shoestring.
Comparing this to the GSBF conventions, for instance, these California conventions are organized in five-star hotels. Just think about the huge overhead costs that are incurred for five days, when renting everything from Hilton or Sheraton Hotels. No wonder that there is no money left for improving the quality of the show. Of course, the hotels make a lot of money from this, at the expense of the bonsai enthusiasts. Why does the public have to pay $250 just to attend the event, when we could do it for a fraction of this if it was organized in a public venue. For some people, this entrance fee is outrageously prohibitive.
So, for $20 a day I can attend the Gingko, but in Sacramento I have to pay $60 a day for quality that is not even close.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 3:08 pm 
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BTW, what I said above goes back to what was said here before about the American mentality: If it doesn't cost a small fortune, it is not valued for much.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 4:42 pm 
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Walter Pall wrote:
....The main obstacle is the tendency of organizations to compromise, to be nice to everybody, 'to give everybody a chance...

The same could be said for bonsai classes, forums, workshops, etc in America. But God help the man who takes a stand.

Will


Last edited by Will Heath on Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 4:58 pm 
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Will Heath wrote:
Walter Pall wrote:
....The main obstacle is the tendency of organizations to compromise, to be nice to everybody, 'to give everybody a chance...

The same could be said for bonsai classes, forums, workshops, etc in America. But God help the man who takes a stand.

Will

I'm of the opinion you can be "nice to everybody" while still having high standards.
Case in point: A person does a sub-standard bonsai but thinks it is a masterpiece. You could be honest and polite and say "it is a good example of bonsai for someone who is learning the art" or you could say "you are an idiot and have no skill at all". An assumption in this is that the critic is actually qualified to make such evaluations.
Constructive criticism is a wonderful thing, but it has to be delivered and received with a positive demeanor. Nobody likes being ridiculed.
At the same time, standards are exactly that...standards. They are not up for debate. The trick is keeping the standards and trying to positively affect all skill levels to attain their very best results.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 6:35 pm 
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Good grief, it's starting to sound like Bonsai American Idol. Maybe it should be like Bonsai American Idol. Randy, Paula and Simon, who are we going to get to fill those slots?


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:43 pm 
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Attila wrote
Organizations can do the teaching of bonsai, but there is no such thing as operating the business of a nation.
As Colin said, the business runs itself, based on the laws of the market.

Attila,please note,I did not mean business as in 'mercantile pursuit' or
'trade'.I meant it like in 'matter',like in'It is not your business..'.
It's worth thinking about what Walter says, that European events are run on a shoestring.
A lot of annual shows and private events here are run on "shoestring" budget.They are all a copy of the big conventions (demos,exhibit,raffles,
vendors).
Bigger conventions usually serve commercial purposes.One of the biggest
cost is the space for the vendors.If you are lucky with the hotel,you will get some complimentary function rooms,depending on your food and
beverage consumption.
Comparing this to the GSBF conventions, for instance, these California conventions are organized in five-star hotels. Just think about the huge overhead costs that are incurred for five days, when renting everything from Hilton or Sheraton Hotels. No wonder that there is no money left for improving the quality of the show. Of course, the hotels make a lot of money from this, at the expense of the bonsai enthusiasts. Why does the public have to pay $250 just to attend the event, when we could do it for a fraction of this if it was organized in a public venue. For some people, this entrance fee is outrageously prohibitive.
When you set up the budget for a convention and you did not include a raffle,the cost of the function space will be covered by the revenue of the vendors,paying rent for their vending booth.There would not be any money left,not much anyway.The demos and workshops,perhaps even the auction,cover the presenters'expense (fees,travel,hotelroom,food).
In order to get a good raffle turnout,you need attendance.You get high attendance,when you organize a bigger event with a good or excellent program.To host that many people you need a hotel with convention
space.This usually means a more expensive hotel.

So, for $20 a day I can attend the Gingko, but in Sacramento I have to pay $60 a day for quality that is not even close.[/quote]
This is the price for having roof organizations like the GSBF.And I believe that in the future,this same organizations,which we help to maintain today,
will be crucial in establishing a unified structure to organize and perhaps
certify the bonsai "curriculum".This will ensure growth and quality.
Regards,
Dorothy Schmitz


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:44 pm 
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Back to the topic at hand, it seems the debate on if European bonsai is actually better than American rages on without a conclusion. I personally believe that it is indeed.
Rob gave some examples of American masters, but I disagree with his standards for judging them as such. In my mind it is not if you entered a tree in a world class show, it is if you placed, it is not if you gave a demo somewhere, it is not if you wrote a book (I've seen some of the bonsai in some of our books), it is what you produce. If you are producing world class bonsai, then you are a world class artist. I would even go as far to say that one must produce world class bonsai consistently in order to be so named.
It is highly unlikely that we will ever see a great number of American artists showing trees in Europe or Asia for that matter due to time/finance/import restrictions. The same could be said of any European or Asian artists showing their work here when and if we ever get a quality show organized. This of course could happen if said artists took the time and effort to grow, style, and develop stock in another country for the sole purpose of showing it.
So now what? How do we get a face off between such artists? How do we answer the question? IS it really even important enough to seek an answer to?
What has been discussed here is the need for a National show in America. The problem of the shear size of this country can be easily solved. A group of respected names are currently planning such a show as we speak. Will this bring American bonsai into the light, will this show our talent, or the lack of it?

Will


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:15 am 
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Dorothy, yours is one way to look at it and it is a very valid and well thought way.
But I wonder if this is the only way, or the best way, to bring in the best trees, the best names and the most people, and God forbit, even make some money that can be used for future use.
It would be a thrill to see a privately organized, alternative convention/exhibit, and compare the two. There would be a lot to learn from such an event.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:27 am 
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At the end of the day, it's up to those who want it to do it.
G'night


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:03 am 
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Will Heath wrote:
Back to the topic at hand, it seems the debate on if European bonsai is actually better than American rages on without a conclusion. I personally believe that it is indeed.
Rob gave some examples of American masters, but I disagree with his standards for judging them as such. In my mind it is not if you entered a tree in a world class show, it is if you placed, it is not if you gave a demo somewhere, it is not if you wrote a book (I've seen some of the bonsai in some of our books), it is what you produce. If you are producing world class bonsai, then you are a world class artist. I would even go as far to say that one must produce world class bonsai consistently in order to be so named.

Will

Will,
the list that Rob presented and that Al has extended is quite comprehensive as far as I can judge. There may be missing a dozen or so names, and one might drop a couple, but then we come up with around 70 names of the 'who is who in American bonsai'. I happen to know the majority of these people personally and I happen to have a vague overview of their work. It is a farir list so far, no doubt to me.
Now one could do what you are trying and make a short list of this. Ask 10 insiders and they will come up with 15 lists.
How do I know? I am playing this game since fifteen years. I often ask people who they think are the 'big' names in America and who they think are the 'good' names. I also ask them who they think are the 'gardneres' and who are the 'artists'. Then they ask me the same about the European scene. This is a fun game. But only in a small circle and onyl if you don't take it all to serious and if noone is taking notes. Here on the forum this will bring 100,000 hits in the end and total chaos. So this is not a good question here, I think. Don't ask me or Bill Valavanis or somone else to come up with their pesonal SHORT list. You question our common sense if you did. It came to my mind that Colin might be the one who presented HISshort list. :-))OK, Colin I was only testing you.
But one could say that this list has a certain minumum standard underlaying otherwise it would be much longer. A good question in my opinion now would be 'How many of that minumum standard and above can one come up with in a European list?'
One could ask about the percentage of 'new' pople who come up the ladder and who will probably progress vs. the oldtimers who are settled.
And then one could ask how all that compares to the Japanese scene. There must be someone who is in a position to do that.
The problem here is that whoever makes a genuine effort to come up with an answer is going to be questioned as to whether he is an authority and whether he does have an agenda. It seems that whatever a European says is considerd one-sided. But, of course, whatever an American says is not one-sided. I find this amusing if not ridiculous.
Walter


Last edited by Walter Pall on Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:50 am 
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OK, before someone asks me to do the list here it is:
There are around 300 to 400 names on the European list.
How do I come up with such numbers? Well, I take the five 'Best of Europe' books and take all names of exhibitors. I omit the ones that come several times. I come up with around 170 in the book number 5 and at least another 100 ones that are not in book number 5 but in the other books. This makes it around 300. Then I take my experience and subtract those who display trees but do not style them. Well, this is a short list. My guess is around 30 or so. makes it 270 to 300 still. Then I take my experience and estimate all those who never were in the Gingko show, never wanted to be or were not invited and still would be worthy if they tried. This is around 200 or more. At least. If you thought that only in America people are able to do outstanding bonsai but don't show them at big exhibits this should make you thinking. So I come up with around 500.
Now I take some margin of error and be very generous and make this 300 again.
Then I crosscheck and take country by country by country and come up with some estimate of nubers of 'good' bonsai folks. And the overall result is the same or higher.
Then I see whether I am comparing the right things. I take all my experience and exposure to American and European bonsai and I come to the conclusion that it is a fair comparison in my eyes.
Then I make a private estimate about the real good trees that I have seen in America and compare this to the real good trees that I have seen in Europe and come to very similar conclusions.
You can crucify me, you can call me names, you can stick your head in the sand, you can laugh at me. But this is my honest assessment. And I tried to be on the very conservative side so that I could not be blamed for one-sidedness.
Walter


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 8:53 am 
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Walter,
I'm not going to call you any names, but I think we are experiencing a lesson in semantics now.
Good bonsai will succeed or fail with the acts of the artist. plain and simple. You obviously know this. People can argue about it - and probably will - until the cows come home, but in the end it's all about INDIVIDUAL achievement. That one person was molded by maybe one teacher or many to reach their level of expertise. Then they find themselves severed from the umbelical cord. Now it's up to them to continue on. Sure, they should strive to continue their bonsai learning, but they reach a point where it is time for them to consider nurturing others as well.
Some do this for a living - and they are duly paid for it. Others are willing to do it for free, just for the joy of the art. Some do both (I think you, Colin, and Bill are three of these types identified in this very thread). There is room in bonsai for all of them.
Back to the subject of this discussion though. I cannot speak for the U.S. effort in bonsai. I am just one person living in the Southern U.S. Quite frankly, I don't feel anyone has the qualifications to make definitive answers for the entire country. Some will have more merit than others, but no ONE person has the final answer.
What I can speak for is my own efforts. Modesty be damned, I am not afraid to "compete" with anyone in bonsai styling. I have fifteen years experience, a very involved fifteen years. I have never traveled to Japan to study. I have never attended the "best" bonsai events in the world. This is not because of lack of interest, it is because of a modest income and a very busy work schedule. I know some people who have been able to travel to Japan and these big shows. Still, there are a number of them who cannot and will not attempt to style a bonsai. They have the money to buy exceptional bonsai and have someone else care for them. They have every right to do this and there is room in bonsai for it, but I get extremely confrontational when these same people seem to be the ones who set the rules for others to follow.
In a nutshell, my AMERICAN bonsai philosophy is this:
I am not afraid to be compared to anyone in bonsai. If I was to style a bonsai right beside a "big name", I will not be intimidated to "compete". Will I be victorious? I don't know, what is victory is bonsai? If I were to compete against you Walter, I most likely would have the inferior product after styling was completed. You would "win", almost certainly. After all, I have asked YOU for criticism in the past, not the other way around. However, I do not view that as a "defeat" for me. I see it as a wonderful opportunity to improve. The mindset being to take that knowledge, apply it, and prepare to do it again and again, and keep doing it until I can rival you. I may never succeed, but my God, what fun it will be!!!
That, to me, is an American's view on bonsai and the state of my Country's bonsai worth. I seriously doubt in varies much from anyone else's. In all honesty, I think it makes some feel threatened. To them I say, "if you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch".
If actual bonsai within the borders of a country settle this matter, then all Americans have to do is get "Forbes Wealthy" U.S. citizens to seek out and buy the top 100 bonsai in the world and have them relocated to the U.S. Then we win, right? I don't think so. This matter is about bonsai styling and the skill it takes to do it. If it isn't, then I am not interested in discussing it further. The "act" is what excites me, not ownership.
Warmest and most respectful regards,
John


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 12:27 pm 
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Mark, I love your show,
Keep going. It's always fun to make fun of Europeans.
:)


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 12:37 pm 
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Mark Arpag wrote:
If you read my last post and said to yourself there has to more to it, you are correct...

From Attilas point of view this would seem to be a joke so if it is then disregard my post below.
Do you ever wonder the point of what you are actually posting Mark? I have no problem with European bashing, its a free world as it was. However i what i do find objectionable is the apparent lack of relevance to the topic at hand and the lack of point to your posts. What point are you making with the quoted post? That our judging system is basic? Fair enough if thats your opinion. Your posts seem to be literally just European bashing with little content and little interest. The question at hand was "What is the problem with American bonsai?" Not what is the problem with the European judging system. Try including some intellect in your posts and you may get a more favorable response.
Regards
Rowan


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:42 pm 
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Mark Arpag wrote:
If you read my last post and said to yourself there has to more to it, you are correct.
After much begging and pleading, a European friend grasciously agreed to share with me. " You Americans are so far behind us,....

....." You surely have asked yourself with so many World Class trees, how do we choose the winners?" "We have added a second judging form to be used only on World Class trees." ....
... etc.
Mark

Mark
I am European, but have newer ever heard about the above, or anything like the described. (I did leave out all that other rubbish apparently told to you).
We have developed some really good judging guidelines in Denmark, but they are primarily used to train beginners to better view and understand the basics of a bonsai (importance of nebari, health i.e.).
The judging guidelines are not used to tell which is the best bonsai at a show, because this judgment is leaved to experienced and talented artists who can deal with this.
The judging guidelines and statements in your post doesn?t show the general opinion or approach in Europe I am sure.
There are egos around here as elsewhere, but I meet many people who just love bonsai and try to make them good. The fewer self-promoting types are unfortunately the people noticed much, because of the self-exposure.
I hope this discussion will keep its focus and not be a pro or against European bonsai. Thats not the point with bonsai, or a discussion like this.
Bonsai is about friendship and beautifull trees.
Best regards
Morten Albek


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