The idea for the Art of Bonsai Awards was actually a solution.
Throughout AoB's history, we have always created and hosted the most original, professional, and successful bonsai related contests on the web. Not only have our record setting contests inspired bonsaists around the world, but also they have proved to be valuable educational resources in many ways. Our contest entries have become a reference source for many, offering a snapshot of the state of bonsai from many countries, and they have brought many bonsai and artists into the public eye that have never been seen on the web before.
The much praised North America vs Europe Contest
followed our highly successful photo contests and all brought in many comments from all levels of practitioners. Many people wanted to see some new aspects added, some removed, other forms of bonsai represented, and we considered every single suggestion.
We were faced with having multiple contests every year, a logistical nightmare that we did not want to tackle. Multiple contests would greatly reduce the time we would have to do what we do best, launching quality articles on the artistic aspects of bonsai, compiling galleries of the best bonsai of our time, and developing profiles of the artists who create them.
Multiple contests would also greatly reduce the prizes offered in the contests, as our already generous sponsors would be hard put to donate to so many contests. Even the entrants would be hard pressed to enter more than one major contest a year. We just could not see splitting up the prizes and entries into multiple contests, there had to be a simpler way to cover all aspects of bonsai
After much discussion, we took all the best aspects from our past contests and combined them into a single contest. Using the high standards and professionalism that AoB is known for and drawing upon some of the most respected bonsai artists from around the world as judges, we created a highly professional contest catering to those serious about the art of bonsai.
This new contest includes multiple categories, while creating a format where other categories and subdivisions can be easily added to meet the needs of our members and sponsors in the future.
We have also decided to offer additional awards, in cooperation with other bonsai organizations and our sponsors, such the American National Bonsai Exhibition Award, and the ABFF award offered this year. These awards are in addition to our primary awards, which are designed to reward and recognize the very best bonsai in the world.
We have eliminated our previous sub-categories dividing professional and non-professional entrants. It is our decision to hold contests that reflect the philosophy of the Art of Bonsai Project, namely that all content here be of the highest caliber.
The Art of Bonsai Awards is not only designed to honor those artists around the world who are creating the best bonsai the day, but also those who are stepping off of the beaten path and creating innovative, inventive, artistic bonsai that are outside of the traditional forms. Those who earn recognition in this contest, judged by four of the most respected bonsai artists in the world, have truly accomplished something and have reached a level that many dream of, but few reach.
With 131 entries from 25 countries, there is little doubt that this new contest was a success, and shall replace our previous contests as a benchmark in bonsai worldwide. This is historical in the sense that never before has such an amazing collection of inspirational, educational, and overall fantastic, world-class trees from around the world been compiled and made available for future reference. "Certainly, this is a major step toward opening a greater dialogue around the world regarding the art we all love so dearly."
The Art of Bonsai Awards could not have been conceived and put into place, nor would it have been such a huge success, without the help of many people.
First, this contest would not have been possible with out the participation of the all the artists who entered. It takes a special type of person to place their work to be judged by professional judges and, maybe harder still, our peers. Contests such as this offer an educational opportunity for both participants and viewers alike. We wish to extend our deepest appreciation to all who took the time to prepare and photograph their creations so that we may all enjoy and learn from their work.
Sponsors make it possible to host such contests and to publicize them worldwide. This year's contest sponsor was International Bonsai
and we wish to express our appreciation for all William Valavanis and International bonsai has done to make this contest a success.
Besides the main awards, this year we are honored to also host the American National Bonsai Exhibition
Award and the Asia-Pacific Bonsai Friendship Federation
Award, each pulling winners from the participants in this contest. Our thanks to these great organizations, without them; we would have had far less to offer.
The impressive list of prizes donated by the many other sponsors of this event are also worthy of praise, and we wish to thank each one of them for their contribution. Please visit the websites of these sponsors and give them your support in return for their effort in making the contest successful. A list of sponsors who donated prizes to this contest follows:
The Judges who volunteered to separately score each entry are four highly acclaimed artists, and much sought after "headliners" for conventions and events throughout the world. We consider the Art of Bonsai Project indeed fortunate to have contest judges of this caliber, and would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to them for allotting time from their busy schedules to serve the bonsai community as judges of this contest. This year's judges are listed below:
- Wm. N. Valavanis, U.S.A. (AoB Awards Judge and American National Bonsai Exhibition Award )
- Lindsay Bebb, Australia (AoB Awards Judge)
- Marco Invernizzi, Italy (AoB Awards Judge)
- Hiroyoshi Yamaji, Japan (Tie Breaker Judge)
- Walter Pall, Germany (The Art of Bonsai Award Judge and Tie Breaker Judge)
- Robert Steven, Indonesia (The Asia-Pacific Bonsai Friendship Federation Award Judge)
- Michael Persiano (Managing Judge who overseen all scores, tallies, and verified accuracy)
A very special thank you is extended to Mr. Walter Pall who proved once again his desire to bring the "world bonsai community" together by actively promoting this contest and offering his invaluable advice and insight. Walter also took on the difficult and unenviable task of selecting the winner of our Art of Bonsai Award, given to the bonsai showing the most innovative and artistic design.
Emre Durdar translated this year's contest into Turkish, thank you for the effort and for helping the Turkish bonsai community become known to us and the rest of the world.
Thanks to all of our members for your support and for helping to spread the word about this contest.
We also wish to thank the Internet bonsai community consisting of many forums in several languages for allowing and encouraging the promotion and discussion of the contest, the bonsai publications, and the international bonsai community for assisting in promoting awareness of this contest.
Behr Appleby deserves an honorable mention for writing such a outstanding thank you post last year, the post above is based on his work and contains many of his thoughts.
Lastly, thanks to the AoB editorial staff members who donated their valuable time to making this all possible.
The judge's scores and comments as well as the announcement of the winners will be posted soon.
Thanks to everyone,
The AoB Editorial Staff