A point of view on a display.

Smoke

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The disclaimer: My POV (point of view) on this display is from a more formal display background. More closely related to Japanese asthetics than a more Western approach. It should be appreciated for that, and not a Western ideal since I am looking at it on those asian merits. Others have commented so my POV is more personel. I am sure there will be disagreement and that is OK with me.

This POV I hope may proove infromational and I hope educational. It has been written with that intent entirely. Thanks.

Satsuki Azalea: Gods gift to women and bonsai. No matter how the blooming azalea looks, the best pine and juniper will never compare to a blooming azalea at a show.

So...how best to display one. Simply!

There is nothing to compare with a blooming azalea, adding addtional features does not enhance a blooming tree, and if done poorly will only seem to detract. If there is supposed to be a message it has to be clear or the flowers will seem to diminish as the viewer is left wondering what is being said here.


I will start with each element of the display and talk about how each is supposed to add to the display.

The tree: This tree is well proportioned yet still has a thinnish trunk. For me it seems tall but that is the way they are trained in Japan so there you go. My only criticism of the tree as shown is the bottom right branch. It is rather short and would enhance the tree much more by filling out the canopy at the bottom. I do not like to see the primary branch shorter than a foliage mass above it. I would like to see the canopy thinned in the fall more at the top, but this is hard to keep bloom wood. It is a little dense for my liking.

The Pot: This is a good choice of shape for this plant. I like the lines and the size. I dislike the color for this tree in bloom. Good chioce without flowers but pooor for blooms especially with nearly all white flowers. There is a touch of pink and we have been told that there is a lot more pink than in past years as it grows. Many of the flowers have already showed, so white it is. Obviously azalea's bloom in spring and summer and this is the one time of year that a tree can be shown with it's Easter dress on. My preference, look for a light celedon green pot. Celedon and pink....Wow! Maybe not all year but in spring...bravo.

The table:
I think this table compliments this display very well. I like the subtle details that were added and it adds texture while not being overpowering.


At this point the display should be half done. Tree and accent!

The scroll:
Flowering trees should never be shown with a scroll! In fact the link from Mark of the satsuki exhibit at Lakeside Garden Center shows some magnificent examples of flowering trees. I know these people, most of them. They are members of BABA, Boon, and REBS and half a dozen other clubs that all show trees with scrolls. There were no scrolls in that exhibit. Why? A scroll is not necessary with a fine example of a flowering tree. A scroll is a supporting piece that helps convey a significant part of a message about season or time of day. A flowering tree already exhibits the season, the accent, and the time of day. Daytime. Most azaleas withdraw their flowers at night which is a reason the flowers last so long. This display has been exhibited with a moon. A full moon, high in the sky since there is no horizon or land masses, or trees. This phase would depict a moon well into the night, a poor choice of "time of day" to enjoy a flowering tree as beautiful as this. This composition would benifit from a hazy sun in the morning. I said hazy and very subdued. I love moon scrolls, I own a lot, I think I am up to about 10 now. They are my favorite, but there is a danger. They do not show well with trees. They show best with stones. If a moon type scroll is used it should depict a season, usully being winter or fall. The brocade on this scroll is very heavy and dark, looking more like winter than spring or summer.

My biggest setback with this scroll is the starkness of it. As I write this it hurts me to say these words. When someone pours their heart and soul into a creation it is so very hard to hear that it has fallen short with someone. Had I not heard these words myself (many times) I would not have earned any money with my display this year. Sometime it hurts to learn so forgive me Victrinia....

I dispise this scroll. OK I said it...kill me in November. This scroll is not subtle enough to displayed with a tree in bloom. For me It steals the show. We have a tree with white blooms, a tree planted in a white pot and a scroll with a overly large white hot dot well centered on a scroll. It is a bullseye. The scroll is stagnent and perfectly symetrical. Why the chop is on the right I have no idea. There is no movement, which is the contributing factor for chop placement. Paul should have centered the chop for use of the scroll in either direction, though chop position is often not made well use of.

This scroll lacks visual texture. I would have loved to seen the moon about less than half as bright. Much more washed over and maybe a thin wisp or two of a cloud over the top of it. This moon is almost the white of the paper and that is unfortunate. I have seen many Paul Goff scrolls from William Valavanis when he comes to Shohin, yet have never bought any because they are a little stark for my taste. I think he needs a more aged look paper or should be painting on ecru silk.

Ok enough about the scroll

The accent: The accent so far has been referred to as a "kusa" kusamono, when it is actually a shitakusa, pronounced (sheeet-ska). Popular opinion has been to integrate more and more plants into a pot adding as much texture as possible, when in reality once again this "busy ness" detracts from the focal point....the tree. In this pot as many as four or five plants have been shoehorned in to make up a really great kusa, but a poor shitakusa. Kathy Shaner warns about keeping accents with trees down to one plant. Seedums with showy trees and flowering with trees that need a seasonal marker. This tree would look great with only a small oval pot or irregular pot full of lush green moss.

For me, I love the tree on the stand, I would add a more simplistic accent and forget the scroll. The trees says everything it needs to say anyway, adding the moon confuses me.

I remember in 2003 I was asked to display a group of shohin trees at that years GSBF convention in Fresno. I built my three tiered display stand that year and filled it with my best trees. Shinji Susuki asked to critique it. Hideko Metaxis was the translator. He opened with "Here we have a man that wishes to show everything he owns". The whole room exploded with laughter. Later that night I removed two plants from the display and took them home. He looked me up later and told me in broken english..."much better", he reached into his pocket and gave me one of his personnel lapel pins.

I have added a picture which I think captures my feelings, don't get me wrong I love Gaga with all my heart and hummm her stupid songs all day long at work. I still think she is over the top though.

Thanks Vic for the chance to offer a little learnin from my perspective. It is a beautiful tree and it will be well admired however it is shown...it is an azalea.
 

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Smoke

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BTW, as I sit in front of my computer and look at those two photos as thumbnails side by side...I am stricken with the realization that the photo on the left is black and white....

.....strange.....
 
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Interesting that you would use the least relevant photo as the one you thumbnail... Mostly because it would never actually be shown with that... it was just something fun in the moment, however tacky apparently. :rolleyes:

It would be good to insert the other photo in this thread as well... because it is more true to the image that would be presented in Rochester....

So my first question is this... would a scroll be appropriate for a flowering tree NOT in bloom?

The likelihood of it leaving with flowers is very small as they would be so few it might just look rediculous. (No flowers would also solve the color issue of the pot... Because I agree that something other than off-white when it's in bloom would be way better.)

So with that in mind would a scroll be appropriate... Part of my liking of the grey moodiness of the scroll is because it actually isn't a poor presentative of our season here... right where I live. Spring tends to be very grey and wet. And it's not unusual to have a moon breaking through in the night after a rain. But you live in a dry place... so that wouldn't speak to you at all, it is outside of your experiance.

There's nothing wrong with hating this scroll with my display... or do you just hate it in general? And the placement of the chop is my fault... I had no idea there was a "way" it ought to be done... so when Paul put it there... it's because he asked, and I told him to put it to the right... though I have to admit some confusion, since I thought the chop was not supposed to be between the tree and the image.... :confused:

Because of the length of the lens I was using, the compression of the first branch is a bit of an optical illusion... I had to take the photo about 25+ feet away from the set-up to catch it with my best glass... the appearance of it when you are standing only a few feet is actually quite balanced... though I'll be sure to take a careful look at it and make any minor adjustments I can.

My shita-excuse-for-a-kusa (lol) is a little more problematic to fix at this point since everything is leaving in 40 hours. So that may have to go, and I just take my lumps for it.

It would seem that there are actually very few things I got right from your POV. Please don't think I'm annoyed, because I am not... I wanted your honesty and appreciate it dearly.

I think the only thing shocking in there was the Gaga reference. You couldn't find a person who I regard more poorly then her... so I feel a good deal of shame over having earned that stamp. But painful lessons are often the best... it's a testament to how well you know me that you could put that forward as a vivid comparative to how poorly I understand the Japanese aesthetic... and that it would hit hard.

And no fears for this Fall... the worst thing that will happen is that I will want to give you a hug. Killing you is out of the question... you are too dear. :eek:

I thank you for taking the time to write all of that... it was very educational for me.

Warmest regards as ever,

Victrinia
 
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Satsuki2010_2.jpg


The other photo...

V
 

Smoke

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Sorry for Gaga, She is the most recent escappe from the looney bin to take on America and she seem to capture "over the top" to a tee. Of course on the other hand that is what I find so appealing about her.

I did not use the other picture because it captures more of the white that I was so dissapointed to see. In fact the white background in the photo on my HD monitor hurts my eyes. It is brilliant. I am stricken with some retail places that sell olive oil and display it on a rack with a backlit sheet of white plexiglass so the bottles shine like jewels. Does that make sense.

I wouldn't change anything about your display. It is a piece of you and a reflection of your soul. I have met you, I have seen you at your best and a little at your worse. Over the top is not out of charecter for you...and I mean that as a good thing:D


As far as scrolls with un flowered trees... a tree without flowers is a tree without flowers. No flowers, different feeling and mood. So yes it would probably work better. Keep in mind at that point the tree becomes a fixture and not a focal point. Jumping into the stage usuing a scroll to help convey a story brings up a huge complex array of questions. These questions have to be removed by the story teller.

Let me use my display as an example. When I posted the pictures from the Kazari, Yamadori had spilled the beans with the post right after mine that I was in the money. She didn't say which place nor any other clue. Everyone knew I had placed yet My display by popular internet choice was only mentioned by one poster. the trees that were chosen were those that showed a much more significant tree. People keyed in on the tree and not the stories. If they were reading the stories they were reading them wrong. In a true Asian esthetic three point display, the tree becomes a supporting piece while in most cases the scroll will be the defining piece of the display. I don't care how good the other parts are with the wrong scroll nothing will be right. This is why I say the scroll has to be the most important piece of a display when decideing to go there.

I knew I didn't have a strong tree. I knew peter Tea and Boon and Jim Gremel and my teacher were going to be there. What could I do that could even compare with what was going on with those trees. I had to do my best at being the best story teller there.

I used a tree that was good but certainly not best.. it had new green leaves, very lush and healthy and it depicted spring...nothing else.

I used a stand that was tall. Very tall. That height payed a ver important part in the overall feel of this display. I wanted something very simple and elegant for this lush tree. Nothing heavy and forbodding nor dark. I went with a very red rosewood feel for color. (I too had a whitish pot).

My scroll, I was just lucky on getting this piece. It is part of a two part set that came in a paulownia wood box and is nearly 100 years old. This scroll was important but almost did me in. It depicted morning with a subtle rising sun (time of day) morning, and had a flourish of cherry blossoms, (no trunk or heavy branches) down the scroll in a hogarth curve depicting the time of year, April in this case, since the Kazari was April 17th.

The accent, a suiseki, depicting a meditating monk.

what does it say....A meditateing monk on a spring morning in April capturing his sutra with a tree on a hill.

I have included a shot with the scroll removed and the accent trimmed back. You may disagree, but "I" feel there is no difference in the display with the scroll there or removed. To me it plays no direct role in the image....so when in doubt always go for simple.

I have to go...off to Monterey California to spend the day with my teacher and his clubs exhibit.

Al
 

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Smoke

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Sorry I just noticed one more thing.

When sitting back in my chair I looked at the picture sans scroll. As I look at the picture I am thinking about the tree being attached to the pot and stand as a unit.

Using only finger pressure, how much would be needed to tip the unit to the right versus to the left? This is a very slanted tree. Much more than I noticed with the scroll. In that picture I am getting a very top heavy feel in that image, in fact it is pretty dynamic, but I'm not sure if that is a good thing. Tell me what you think?
 

RyanFrye

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Great critique Al. I learned a lot. Thanks!
 
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When put side by side to yours I see it as "a woman who is trying to show everything at once". My "best" scroll... a smoking busy shitakusa... my "best" tree... and a sublime stand. In yours there is quietness and subtlety. Of anything that was the most enlightening.

I also think it shows understanding and confidence... to know when enough is enough and stop. That must be the hardest thing to learn of all. Especially for a westerner.. on whom subtlety is often lost. It's a trained thing for us in a way that it is likely intuitive to them.

I have photos without the scroll as well... I may have to show that. I am intimidated to say the least at how one has to think of some of these things. However, I've never let hesitation stop me from diving deep... so thank you for pushing me into the deep end.

I think it's less slanted than you might think... remember it's not on center... and 25 feet of distance is not the normal viewing length. So I think if you were within the typical 5-10 feet max that most people view trees at... you'd feel differently. I've actually moved the tree from it's slanted angle a LOT in the last few years... it was much worse when I first got it, and it's very near where I want it in the end. I do so hope you'll get a chance some day to see it in person... it's a very different tree in that senario.

I also was hoping you might talk about chops some... I obviously need some help in understanding the importance of their positioning.

I will let my first whack at it, be what it is... and try to be wiser in the future...

And as to me at my best and worst, and being over the top... blame the margaritas... :p you missed a heck of a good time. Poor Barb and Joanie had to put up with me... I was so hammered. ;) I make no promises about this year... I haven't tried the margaritas in Santa Clara yet... :eek:

Hugs,

V
 

greerhw

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Satsuki Azalea: Gods gift to women and bonsai. No matter how the blooming azalea looks, the best pine and juniper will never compare to a blooming azalea at a show. .

Sorry buddy , I respectfully disagree, an Azalea is a blooming shrub, a JBP is a tree and shows the ruggedness of nature and the will to survive almost any climate. I appreciate the beauty of an Azalea, but it's short lived. As a foot note, we sometimes we have a blooming Azalea in our show, when I work the floor, the only ones that pay any attention to it, are the little old ladies, but rednecks aren't too sophisticated, only opinionated. We still eat fried chicken with our fangers.

keep it green,
Harry
 
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Smoke

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Sorry buddy , I respectfully disagree, an Azalea is a blooming shrub, a JBP is a tree and shows the ruggedness of nature and the will to survive almost any climate. I appreciate the beauty of an Azalea, but it's short lived. As a foot note, we sometimes we have a blooming Azalea in our show, when I work the floor, the only ones that pay any attention to it, are the little old ladies, but rednecks aren't too sophisticated, only opinionated. We still eat fried chicken with our fangers.

keep it green,
Harry

Sorry Harry you are a minority with blinders on.....
 

greerhw

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Sorry dude, but I think not, post a home grown tree and one of my cookie cutter trees, I'm guessing the majority of people given the opportunity would pick my boring tree if you and I would offer to ship it to them free.

keep it green,
Harry
 

Tachigi

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if you and I would offer to ship it to them free.

keep it green,
Harry

I'll take either...you pack'm and I'll pop for the shipping
 

Smoke

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Sorry dude, but I think not, post a home grown tree and one of my cookie cutter trees, I'm guessing the majority of people given the opportunity would pick my boring tree if you and I would offer to ship it to them free.

keep it green,
Harry

Harry, you are treating this thread like azalea's are Barrack Obama. You are willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you don't like flowering trees and D trees than I suggest you not post in the threads. Frankly your narrow mindedness is boring.
 

greerhw

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Harry, you are treating this thread like azalea's are Barrack Obama. You are willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you don't like flowering trees and D trees than I suggest you not post in the threads. Frankly your narrow mindedness is boring.

I thought this was an open forum and anyone could post an opinion. In the true sense of the word bonsai, Azaleas don't even qualify. Sorry to bore you, but go ahead and wow the troops with your broad knowledge of all things bonsai, who knows, I might learn something, I'm a big fan.

keep it green,
Harry
 
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Smoke

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I thought this was an open forum and anyone could post an opinion. In the true sense of the word bonsai, Azaleas don't even qualify. Sorry to bore you, but go ahead and wow the troops with your broad knowledge of all things bonsai, who knows, I might learn something, I'm a big fan.

keep it green,
Harry

In the "true" sense of the word "bonsai", any plant can qualify. The word "tree" is not in the word bonsai. But, just to humor you, What about all those juniper shrubs you keep? Do they qualify?

Great Harry now your sounding like Will Heath. Get real....

You have made your point. Azalea's don't qualify as bonsai, and no azalea can compare to your pines and junipers. Anything else I should know cause I'm learnin too!
 

sulrich

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Al, thanks a lot for posting this critique, I really learned a lot from it.

In the true sense of the word bonsai, Azaleas don't even qualify.

Wait - the truly classical species for Bonsai are listed in the 14th century Noh play "The Potted Trees". From http://noh-kyogen.com/story/english/Hachinoki.pdf:
7. Shite’s tree-cutting: Tsuneyo noting the night cold, offers to cut his potted trees of plum, cherry
and pine which he has kept from better times. As the chorus sings, he sadly cuts them down,
places the branches in front of the priest and starts a fire.

So that's 2 : 1 for deciduous/flowering vs. conifers! They also burn much longer ... :D
 
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greerhw

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In the "true" sense of the word "bonsai", any plant can qualify. The word "tree" is not in the word bonsai. But, just to humor you, What about all those juniper shrubs you keep? Do they qualify?

Great Harry now your sounding like Will Heath. Get real....

You have made your point. Azalea's don't qualify as bonsai, and no azalea can compare to your pines and junipers. Anything else I should know cause I'm learnin too!

Touché, I'm in a better mood now and I'm tired of arguing, your remark that no juniper or JBP would stand a chance against an azalea in a show hit a nerve.

keep it green,
Harry
 
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Into the echoing void of the now thundering silence.... Victrinia whispers.....









Chops..................................................
 

Smoke

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Touché, I'm in a better mood now and I'm tired of arguing, your remark that no juniper or JBP would stand a chance against an azalea in a show hit a nerve.

keep it green,
Harry


For women Harry...For women. Read the opening line;
Satsuki Azalea: Gods gift to women and bonsai. No matter how the blooming azalea looks, the best pine and juniper will never compare to a blooming azalea at a show.

Do you take your wife anywhere? I go to about 15 exhibits a year, sometimes more. When my wife goes it's always the flowering trees or those with fruit or doo dads that attract my wifes attention. Kimura himself could be there with his best tree and my wife would walk right past him saying "excuse me your blocking my view of that pretty azalea".


Man you make me work for it.....
 

Smoke

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Into the echoing void of the now thundering silence.... Victrinia whispers.....









Chops..................................................

When I get home I will post about this. I need access to my pictures. Monterey is beautiful and cool.
 

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