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.
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.