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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:49 pm 
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Rowan,
We can only find the truth if we are able to laugh at ourselves at any time.
Mark's point was that these prestigious European shows tend to favor large bonsai with even larger deadwood. This is true in many instances, but it is obviously a caricature of the reality, which is much more subtle and hard to generalize.
Nothing wrong with throwing a little cake in each-other's face once in a while.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:05 pm 
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Location: Michigan USA
Morten Albek wrote:
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.

Morten's thoughts above are wise words indeed.


Will


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:11 pm 
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Location: New England, USA
Ah! Now I see Mark's joke! It was a counter to his earlier criticism that last year's Ginkgo winner was a maple!
Ha!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:10 pm 
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Location: Upstate New York
Censored? Well at least Attila appreciated my irreverent comments and humor.
Only one point of view welcome here.
Mark


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:18 pm 
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Mark Arpag wrote:
Censored? Well at least Attila appreciated my irreverent comments and humor.
Only one point of view welcome here.
Mark

Hey Mark,
We need your counterpoint here, otherwise there would be nobody to argue with.
I hope we don't get to the point where everyone agrees with everyone else on this site.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:45 pm 
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Location: Michigan USA
Attila Soos wrote:
I hope we don't get to the point where everyone agrees with everyone else on this site.

And I feel the same way, considering our subject matter here, that is highly unlikely. In fact, there are many points of view represented here in this thread and on almost every other one here at AoB as well. Polite, intellgent discussion, no matter what the viewpoint, is and always has been welcome.
However making fun of people, countries, cultures or insulting them is not productive to any discussion and only leads to hard feelings, or worse.
Mark,
One warning is enough, the second results in moderation. I am sure that everyone here knows my extreme dislike for moderation, moderators, and especially being forced to moderate. Normally I would have simply deleted the post without comment (and did), but since it was called censorship, I felt the need to elaborate....
Your first post in this thread "I have walked through horse stables and never seen a pile of manure this high before. " set the standard to measure your words by and a clear and fair warning was given at that time.
I respect your work and your knowledge, please respect mine.

Will Heath


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 Post subject: Misunderstood
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:43 pm 
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Mark
Maybe I misunderstood your humour, - then it may be due to the language barriers for my point. Sorry if I replied to something didn?t meant the way I was reading it - it sometimes is very difficult to know the humoristic messages in a debate mostly written in a more serious tone in a language I am not perfectly managing.
Best regards
Morten Albek


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:58 pm 
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Will Heath wrote:
I do also agree that the Europeans have a slight preference for deadwood, from my limited experience anyhow.

It seems that way, but Europeans work far more with yamadori, and a different kind of yamadori than is easily found east of the Rockies, even in the Rockies.
I don't agree that Europeans necessarily go for bigger trees, though. In the 5th Ginkgo album, many of the exhibits and prizewinners were shohin or chohin size. They were just so good that they looked big!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:29 pm 
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Bill made remarks in this area I think more or less voiced this opinion that Europeans work more with imported raw material and yamadori. His observation that Europeans do not deal much with the cultivation of raw material where as Americans do, kind of got him in trouble with some contrary comments. Thinking through this I believe Bill had a valid argument. However we are discussing more or less finished bonsai in this thread and the evidence is there to be seen. Bonsai Today has published numerous galleries containing trees from all over the world and usually American Bonsai do not hit the top in comparison---what ever the reason.
Lets look at the options: Imported material is a real problem here because it is difficult to obtain good imports because of the import restrictions. Yamadori are not so difficult but seem to be widely neglected. Over the years I have seen examples of some really nice collected stuff but they seem to fall off the table as one waits to see updates. I remember several years ago on Garden Web Bonsai Forum a really beautiful Douglas fir was posted. I keep hoping some day that the owner will post an update but so far I have not seen this tree again.
I have seen several really good Western Hemlocks but it seems the majority of the collected trees you are likely to encounter are Ponderosa Pine, (a really dreadful tree for bonsai in my opinion), Rocky Mountain Juniper and the occasional California Juniper. Walter Pall has a beautiful Ponderosa Pine but that is the only one of this species I would look at twice.
The point of all of this is that Americans are ignoring the best trees because of the problems of obtaining them. I don't think anyone here is a stranger to what happens when a discussion on an Internet forum turns to collecting material. The environmental gestapo turns out in force and the collector gets accused of destroying the environment. It is no wonder Americans work mostly with nursery stock or cultivated stock, it is just too much trouble to do anything else. If this is the reason American bonsai are less than their contemporaries in Europe I am at a loss as what to do about it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:45 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Florida USA
Wow, I miss a few days and this thread really takes off.
I have a few comments.
1. For Colin?s post on the general nature of bonsai in the US - I am very leery of unverifiable generalizations. For example, Colin said ?The American way: "If you didn't buy it it isn't real". Or: "If you didn't pay someone to do it, it's no good". In Europe: If you want a good job done, do it yourself. ? I?m sure this generalization doesn?t apply to all areas, such as brain surgery :) At least I hope not and I don't think it applies to bonsai in the US either.
2. I agree with Colin that the US needs better bonsai exhibits. While I think the US needs a national show, I don?t think the US needs a show with a national scope to be a really top notch show. There are plenty of great bonsai within each region of the US to put on a series of high level shows. For example, if all the great bonsai artists in Florida were motivated to show 2 of their best trees at a Florida only show, the quality and quantity would amaze everyone. Example a show featuring Jim Smith?s Banyan Ficus nerifolia, and one of his penjing ficus, Ed Trouts? Buttonwood and Juniper, Mary Madison?s Buttonwood and Bald Cypress, Jim Vanlandingham?s Lantana and Gardenia, Mary Millers? Nea and Nashia, Alan Keifer?s Buttonwood and Ficus Nerifolia on slab, Miami Tropicals Monster Podocarpus and Fukien Tea on slab, Dr Reggie Perdues? Bougainvillea, and Carlos Consegua?s azaleas, and Ernie and Dorothy, and Toby and Hector and Ronn and Paul and Charles and Richard and Garbas and the 3 Mike(s) and Joe and....the list goes on and on. California could certainly do a similar fantastic show and New England and the Mid Atlanic and Pacifici Northwest. The US has many very good artists that could contribute if motivated.
So how to motivate them? I think 3 ways - money, prestige and convenience.
I am putting together a plan to accomplish this. If anyone here would like join in send me a private message. We will make it happen.
3. Walter?s comment about a list of 300 to 400 artists in Europe was interesting. The amount certainly depends on the methodology used to determine the artists. I feel that if I used Walter?s method for the US but instead of the Ginko book, used the list of exhibitors at the 7 past ABS and US based BCI conventions and the JAL World Contest , I could create a similarly sized list. The effort though would be mostly pointless. I think everyone needs to recognize that there are good artists on all sides of the pond. Europe, through the initiative of a few entrepreneurs, has created selective shows that publicize the work of the better artists. Without showing trees and getting publicity who knows what these artists are doing.
4. Dorothy?s comment about roof organizations (an interesting term) sponsoring shows caught my eye. The real problem with shows in the US sponsored by roof organizations is that the quality of the exhibit has really been secondary to the goal of raising money for the organizations. Hence the need for rafflemaina. These shows have taken a mom and pop approach to bonsai relying on the generosity of volunteers and donors to make a little cash. Volunteers can only do so much. If the show were viewed in terms of artistic entertainment and publicized as such and backed by a profit motive, then the show would have to have some merit.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:19 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Florida USA
Vance Wood wrote:
Bill made remarks in this area I think more or less voiced this opinion that Europeans work more with imported raw material and yamadori. His observation that Europeans do not deal much with the cultivation of raw material where as Americans do, kind of got him in trouble with some contrary comments. Thinking through this I believe Bill had a valid argument. However we are discussing more or less finished bonsai in this thread and the evidence is there to be seen. Bonsai Today has published numerous galleries containing trees from all over the world and usually American Bonsai do not hit the top in comparison---what ever the reason.
Lets look at the options: Imported material is a real problem here because it is difficult to obtain good imports because of the import restrictions. Yamadori are not so difficult but seem to be widely neglected. Over the years I have seen examples of some really nice collected stuff but they seem to fall off the table as one waits to see updates. I remember several years ago on Garden Web Bonsai Forum a really beautiful Douglas fir was posted. I keep hoping some day that the owner will post an update but so far I have not seen this tree again.
I have seen several really good Western Hemlocks but it seems the majority of the collected trees you are likely to encounter are Ponderosa Pine, (a really dreadful tree for bonsai in my opinion), Rocky Mountain Juniper and the occasional California Juniper. Walter Pall has a beautiful Ponderosa Pine but that is the only one of this species I would look at twice.
The point of all of this is that Americans are ignoring the best trees because of the problems of obtaining them. I don't think anyone here is a stranger to what happens when a discussion on an Internet forum turns to collecting material. The environmental gestapo turns out in force and the collector gets accused of destroying the environment. It is no wonder Americans work mostly with nursery stock or cultivated stock, it is just too much trouble to do anything else. If this is the reason American bonsai are less than their contemporaries in Europe I am at a loss as what to do about it.

Vance,
The use of collected material is not that rare in some areas of the US. In Florida collected Bald Cypress, Buttonwood, Bougainvillea, American Elm, Hackberry, Podocarpus, Crape Myrtle, Live Oak, Simpson Stopper, Privet, Water Elm, and even ficus make up a large portion of the better collections. (I'm going collecting on Saturday.) In California the California Juniper, Sierra Juniper, Coastal Live Oak, Redwoods along with Urban yamadori mentioned for Florida grace many of the better collections. The northwest has mountain Hemlock (which you mentioned) a couple varieties of pine, spruce, cedar, and Rocky Mountain Juniper, cotoneaster. The northeast US has Larch, Apple, White Cedar, Scrub Pine, Honeysuckle, American Beech, and Hornbeam. Now think about the European yamadori - the species I have seen are Taxus, Hawthorne, Pinus Mugo and Scots pine, Olive, English Oak, Spruce and Common Juniper and Juniper sabina along with urban yamadori. The US has plenty to offer in terms of collectable material - at least equal to and probably more than in Europe.

Based on what I saw in Germany when in the Army, the Wald Meister's are just as protective of their forests as American land owners. I seriously doubt collecting without permission is the legitimate way to go in Europe anymore than it is the US or Japan or Taiwan for that matter.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:08 pm 
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Location: Rochester, New York USA
I have a question about collected material. As many of you know, I don't use Japanese terminology to impress people and do not see the purpose of using foreign words when there is an easy and short English language equivalent.
Most people use the word "yamadori" for "collected trees. The word "yamadori" means collected from the mountains in Japanese. Currently, people are using that word to describe specimens collected from anywhere, the landscape, old nurseries etc. I think people use that word to describe any material they personally dig.
I don't think that is a valid term in this case. Generally collected trees from "the wild" have a different character than nursery grown plants. If a person grafts a tree or plants a seed or takes a cutting and plants it in the landscape and then someone digs it out, is it still a collected specimen? Man began that tree, not nature like the "real" mountain collected specimens.
Just thinking here since many people are talking about "yamadori" or digging trees from the landscape which have been started by man, not nature.
This is the reason in the past I have sponsored symposia on "collected bonsai" as well as "cultivated bonsai". I think people should realize there is a difference.
Just a few thoughts tonight...
Bill


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:20 pm 
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Welcome back Rob.
I agree, some of my comments were generalizations based on casual observation, meant more to stimulate thought than to be taken as grounds for a revolution! Others, though, were more accurate.
Believe me, ther IS a difference in bonsai between here and Europe. In fact there are many differences and a lot of them have their roots in American culture and lifestyle. Nothing we do will change that, so we have to work with it.
Having said that, I have seen in many of my students a "Europeanization" (for want of a better term) of their attitude toward bonsai: their standards, their aspirations, their self criticism, their work ethic and so on. And their frustration at the fact that public displays of bonsai are so poor - unnecessarily poor, as you point out. In general.
It's refreshing to hear a board officer of an umbrella organization admitting the preoccupation with fund raising and the downgrading of the bonsai side of things as a result. All these organizations are indispensible; they each perform a valuable role, but there is a glass ceiling to what they can reasonably be asked to achieve.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:47 pm 
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America has an advantage in my mind and that advantage is the largest and best source of collectable material in the world. Many species are suited to bonsai that are not even being taken advantage of yet.
The real challenge is not makiing the same mistakes other countries have made, wild bonsai stock can be a renewable resource, maybe not in our lifetimes, but still renewable. Plant two when you take one.

Will


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:29 am 
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I guess I'm in the minority here, or maybe alone, that when we specifically address the issue of American Bonsai (and I use that term meaning U.S. with no offense to the other countries in the Americas), it means American stock, with American artists, on American soil.
A truly AMERICAN bonsai is native, at least to me. The material lives its entire life on and above the soil of the U.S. Because of this, I feel the styling of the bonsai is the most important aspect of whether the bonsai is representative of American involvement. Once again, if wealthy Americans purchased the "best" 100 bonsai in the world and then re-located them to the U.S. would this matter be decided? I mentioned it earlier, but I don't see any responses or counter-points (maybe my posts are not worth responding to).
Be that as it may, I once had an internet discussion with Bill about "finished" bonsai in America that were qualified (under my personal belief) of what is truly an American bonsai. It seems we are hovering around the fifty year mark for KNOWN bonsai that meet the aforementioned criteria I highlighted above. That makes for a finite number of possibilities, although that number is increasing at an impressive rate. Am I wrong in this position?
Is it time to back-track and ask the question:
What exactly constitutes American Bonsai?
I think we need to lay the ground work for this, so the discussion can be specifically and accurately discussed. Right now, although I am very interested and impressed by the comments, we seem to be discussing different aspects. Once a consensus is reached, I feel our discussion will be even more productive.
Or I can just "shut up".
John


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