Profile: Pedro Morales
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Author:  Editorial Staff [ Fri May 29, 2009 11:55 am ]
Post subject:  Profile: Pedro Morales

Profile: Pedro Morales

Pedro Morales
Photograph by Dorothy Schmitz

Pedro Morales is an internationally renowned Bonsai Artist from Puerto Rico who is well known for his humor, warm heart, and many contributions to the bonsai community.

The following is an on-line interview with Pedro Morales.

AoB: Who do you you credit with the most influence on your development?

Pedro: In my first Year at the University of Puerto Rico my Spanish teacher Maria Riera give me an project to investigate and the theme was Bonsai. The person that was the most influence in my development was my teacher Adan Montalvo.

AoB: Do you recall early goals? Your first bonsai? Your first exhibit? Your first convention?

Pedro: My first bonsai, a ficus, is still at my house. It is not my best one but still is the first one. Exhibit. Can´t remember, Convention, internationally one of Bill Valavanis in Rochester I think it was 1985 or 86

AoB: You are well known also as a Suiseki collector and enthusiast and have quite an impressive private collection, how did you become involved in Suiseki and who did you learn from?

Pedro: I´m mostly a collector, I like stones and since my beginning in bonsai, my teacher also do suiseki so he also teach me that.

AoB: You teach Suiseki as well as bonsai, what can you tell us about Suiseki and what do you feel is the most important thing is for a person interested in Suiseki to know?

Pedro: Again, I not consider myself a suiseki expert, I could talk about suiseki but mostly about what I like to see on stones. I love to see landscape, mountains & waterfalls. When a stone give me the remembrance of a place that I have visit before that please me.

Pedro Morales
Photograph by Dorothy Schmitz

AoB: When you are seeking Suiseki what do you look for in a stone and where do you feel the best areas to look for such are?
Pedro: I´m not looking for anything in particular, usually stone cross on your way.

AoB: Cut stones are often looked down upon by the community, what other attributes would make a stone undesirable? What attributes make a stone desirable?

Pedro: I´m not a purist. I like stones and I don’t care if they are cut or uncut. If It give me the feeling I´m looking for it is good for me.

AoB: What kind of vegetation does the tropical climate in Puerto Rico mainly offer for bonsai collection and cultivation?

Pedro: Wow! There is a lot of good material in tropical climates, it will be a very long list but mainly, ficus, neeas, tabebuhias, buttonwood, bougainvilleas & bucidas

AoB: We understand you can grow Japanese black pines in the mountain regions of Puerto Rico, have you worked much with this species and what are your thoughts on it?

Pedro: There are a couple of Black pines here. All imported. We have been playing with this species for more than 25 five years and still there are a long way to go.

AoB: Can you give us more information about club structure in Puerto Rico? How many clubs do you have? How do you recruit club members? How is the general interest for clubs, are they expanding or diminishing?

Pedro: There are about 12 clubs in PR and all of them are members of one Federation that joins all clubs. The Puerto Rico Bonsai Federation is the one in charge of educating programs that the clubs later use on their meetings. Most of the club members comes from public exhibitions at shopping malls

AoB: What is your personal dream or goal you would like to see achieved for bonsai in Puerto Rico?

Pedro: There was many goals on my list. An International Convention, done, a BCI Convention, Done A latin American Bonsai Convention done twice, A World Bonsai Convention, will be this year and the Museum that we already have the property at the Botanical Garden, after that now my goal is to prepare my students to become internationally recognized.

Pedro Morales
Photograph by Dorothy Schmitz

AoB: If you could name one thing that you feel is unique in bonsai from Puerto Rico, what would that be?

Pedro: Our local tree, Neea bucifolia. It is extremely good material for bonsai.

AoB: What other artists would you say are leading the way in bonsai with innovation and artistic creativity in Puerto Rico?

Pedro: Puerto Rico have very good artist but the problem here its still the attitude. There are several names that will be raising in the next year or so. I could say they are very good.

AoB: You will be hosting the 2009 World Bonsai Convention (July 7 -13) and are offering some interesting activities like the Suiseki hunting, stone Cleaning and cutting, as well as Sean Smit's daiza workshop. Can you tell us more about the program and your headliners?

Pedro: 22 speakers from all regions of the World in a unique format will be the center of the bonsai world this year. The Suiseki spot that we are looking for stones are consider one of the best of the world. Even in Japan they compare the stones from Puerto Rico to the best in Japan. Don’t ask me, ask Sean that comes two or 3 times a year to look for stones there.

AoB: In 2009 Puerto Rico will be once again the center of bonsai events by Hosting the World Bonsai Convention., what will be different compared to 2007?

Pedro: For us 2007 was part of a training program on how to do conventions. This year will be much organize than the other and we have many good comments on 2007 but now a professional company is running the show and we have a lot of sponsors that will make the people enjoy to the extreme their time here. So far at this time we are close to 200 registrants from 23 countries

AoB: Competitions seem to generate development and quality, do you agree? What kind of contests does FELAB (Latin American Bonsai Federation) offer on a regular basis?

Pedro: I think competitions are good always. Felab every year host the new talent contest and we also encourage our members to participate in any photo contest around the world so bonsai in Latin America get exposure.

Photograph by Dorothy Schmitz

AoB: There is a lot of discussion lately about whether bonsai should be considered a legitimate art form or not. What are your thoughts about this subject?

Pedro: It has been an art form for more than 200o years why now it won’t be?

AoB: Does Puerto Rico have the possibility to import species for bonsai or are you strictly limited to native material? Which Native Material would you say was excellent bonsai material and which species do you wish you could grow there?

Pedro: We have the same restrictions of the US. I wish I could have juniper species native to here. We don’t.

AoB: Bonsai seems to evolve rapidly worldwide. In your opinion, what are the main changes in the last 10 years, if any? Where do you see bonsai going in the next 10 years?

Pedro: We will see more Chinese influence in the bonsai world. They are the originals and now they want their bonsai to be known around the world.

AoB: Tell us about the "PEDRO J. MORALES" Latin American Bonsai Design Award 2007.

Pedro: This award was created by a group of friends here in Puerto Rico. They put the money. I have nothing to do with it. It just has my name and I’m grateful to BCI and FELAB and my friends for it.

AoB: Many people have recently complained about the way in which demonstrations are done, stating that this first styling is somehow damaging to the tree, what are your feelings on this?

Pedro: It is very difficult to please everyone. I think for people that knows about bonsai its ok but for people that is going for the first time you should have something more refine so they could see the final stages. I will suggest having photos of the first stages so they learn the process

AoB: What would your demonstrations be like, if you could dictate the agenda without the club or organizations input?

Pedro: I like to show as much as possible on how to get a good tree out of the material provided. If I could have the material for a demo a year before the demo I could do some work and take pictures to let the people understand the process. At the final demo you just need to make final adjustments and show your future masterpiece.

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