Competition

0soyoung

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If you want to count places like the Pacific Bonsai Museum and the bonsai collection at the National Arboretum as "major shows", yes. But I, nevertheless, my wife and I exchange critiques while looking at the trees on display, and discuss which we like best when we leave.

So, no. There are none and none are possible. Somebody, if not everybody, will inevitably judge the works.
 
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As far as I know that's what we're doing here on this website.
Should there be shows without competition aspects?
I think yes, but I believe no. People love recognition for their work and craftsmanship, they could get that from visitors just like on this forum. But it's more rewarding to have highly skilled and experienced judges say your tree is the most awesome one in the arena.
If there's no competition element, I think some lousy jobs would have just as much right to enter as very well executed jobs.. And they would be displayed as being equal. People will take that as an offence, because it is an offence in some way.
Imagine organizing a show like that; you put a pile of trash - like I own so many - next to a jawdropper, people will naturally compare the two. My trash would be more trashy than it already was, simply because of the actual frame of reference. The jawdropper could be experienced as being a thousand times better than it really is, because it's next to a piece of crap.

My girlfriend, not knowing bonsai at all, pointed out some serious flaws in trees at Noelanders. Obviously painted trunks, pieces of clay made to look like real bark.. Stuff like that. She was criticizing the best trees Europe has to offer. If she does things like that, you can bet your marbles anyone else will too. But as soon as we put a tree on display, we're kind of asking for that. I don't display/show my own trees for people to not look at them. I think it's kind of inherent to the art/craft itself.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Are there major shows without the competition aspect, ie, awards, placements, etc.. If not, should there be?
For years the GSBF shows did not have judged competitions - just exhibits. They added a judged category to the show a couple of years ago, and I think it adds some needed flavor. But they did not get rid of the non-judged exhibit trees, rather they have two halls - one with the judged trees and one with the exhibit trees. Understand that many of the exhibit trees are very famous trees that have won awards in the past. It gives a venue for those trees to be displayed, without having them dominate the judged hall year after year.

The judged hall also has different skill/experience categories, so if you are just starting out you will be judged against your peers. At least for me, being judged is not about "winning". It is about having the honor of having a distinguished bonsai master critique your best work.
 
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The quality would probably not going to be as great as the one that has competition. Do you think some one paying thousand of dollars to have someone style and take care of the tree will go through the effort to display it for... nothing? I didn't think so...
 

Shibui

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The point is to show other people your trees. To inspire others. To allow others to view a range of styles and species.
Why is it necessary to win?
Very few bonsai shows over here are judged. Most are cooperative displays to show a range of trees. In the past when we had competitive shows we found that people were withholding information and techniques so they could get ahead of others and win. Now there's little reason to keep secret formulae or techniques so growers are far more likely to openly talk about what they have tried and new ideas that work.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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The point is to show other people your trees. To inspire others. To allow others to view a range of styles and species.
Why is it necessary to win?
Very few bonsai shows over here are judged. Most are cooperative displays to show a range of trees. In the past when we had competitive shows we found that people were withholding information and techniques so they could get ahead of others and win. Now there's little reason to keep secret formulae or techniques so growers are far more likely to openly talk about what they have tried and new ideas that work.
The smiley face was to suggest I was joking. However, I prefer judged shows and in my experience, those who oppose it generally don’t have great trees. It is quite obvious that the point of shows is to show other people our trees, to inspire, etc. The element of judging forces participants to step up and take it seriously, which should increase the quality, and therefore the viewers’ experience.
 

Anthony

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The original idea was to use trees to relax and stimulate the mind.
Done by Chinese Scholars, so I doubt they bwould have grown crap.
This is how we do it, in this yard.

They also had exhibitions.

Wu Yee Sun was a Farmer - Scholar.

Rather liked that.

So I enjoy the exhibition idea, not much into prizes.
Had enough of that in school.

Also like when friends who grow bonsai, get together
for disussions into the night.
Visit each others' yards.
Good Day
Anthony
 

Shibui

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The smiley face was to suggest I was joking.
Sorry Brian, I missed the smiley. :oops:
I'm sure there's room for many different forms of bonsai display. While one thing may inspire some people to 'step up', the same thing will also inspire others to walk away.
I also think it is important to have avenues for those who do not have "great trees' yet to also enjoy the chance to show off their achievements. Having lesser trees on display also seems to encourage newer growers to dip a toe in and have a go. We can't all start off with elite show quality bonsai.
I assume you have not seen any evidence of growers guarding new info to gain advantage for competition?
 

rockm

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Local clubs here have displays at garden centers and community centers that aren't judged. They're Just displays to draw in the public.

FWIW, competition in the last few years, from Bill Valavanis' National show to Ryan Neal's show out in Washington state a couple of years ago, has driven the overall quality of bonsai in the U.S. to historic levels--from a grindingly static past. Competition drives ambition to have better trees. Displays can do similar things, but nowhere as effectively as trying to get a ribbon or cash prize, or bragging rights. Some like that, some don't. the fact remains without competition, U.S. bonsai would not be where it is today.
 

namnhi

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Local clubs here have displays at garden centers and community centers that aren't judged. They're Just displays to draw in the public.

FWIW, competition in the last few years, from Bill Valavanis' National show to Ryan Neal's show out in Washington state a couple of years ago, has driven the overall quality of bonsai in the U.S. to historic levels--from a grindingly static past. Competition drives ambition to have better trees. Displays can do similar things, but nowhere as effectively as trying to get a ribbon or cash prize, or bragging rights. Some like that, some don't. the fact remains without competition, U.S. bonsai would not be where it is today.
Agree wholeheartedly!
 

Adair M

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At the Atlanta Bonsai Society, the judge selects a Best in Show, Best Expert, Best Enthusiast, and Best Novice. Novice being someone new to the hobby. He can also award Honarable Mentions at his/her discretion.

The problem with this system is most of the members think they’re Experts! Hardly anyone enters as “Enthusiast”.

At one time, we had ribbons given by style: Best Slant, Best Cascade, Best Informal Upright, etc. And second place, and third place ribbon, too. It seemed like almost every tree got some sort of ribbon.

At BIB, the awards are determined by tree species and size. So, it’s Best Large Conifer, Best Medium Deciduous, Best Large Broadleaf, etc. There’s also a category for Best Shohin, and one for Best Unusual Style. And a Best in Show.

There’s all kinds of different ways to do it.

I think the public likes to have award winners. I have seen them say things likes, “Look over here, honey, this one’s Best in Show!” And I think it helps educate everyone to have examples of superior trees (and displays) to demonstrate the art is more than just sticking a tree in a pot.
 

rockm

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At the Atlanta Bonsai Society, the judge selects a Best in Show, Best Expert, Best Enthusiast, and Best Novice. Novice being someone new to the hobby. He can also award Honarable Mentions at his/her discretion.

The problem with this system is most of the members think they’re Experts! Hardly anyone enters as “Enthusiast”.

At one time, we had ribbons given by style: Best Slant, Best Cascade, Best Informal Upright, etc. And second place, and third place ribbon, too. It seemed like almost every tree got some sort of ribbon.

At BIB, the awards are determined by tree species and size. So, it’s Best Large Conifer, Best Medium Deciduous, Best Large Broadleaf, etc. There’s also a category for Best Shohin, and one for Best Unusual Style. And a Best in Show.

There’s all kinds of different ways to do it.

I think the public likes to have award winners. I have seen them say things likes, “Look over here, honey, this one’s Best in Show!” And I think it helps educate everyone to have examples of superior trees (and displays) to demonstrate the art is more than just sticking a tree in a pot.
The slip side of that is the "
I think you meant Ryan's show in Portland, Oregon......
Oregon, Washington...what's the diff? :);) I used to live out there, so I should know better.
 

just.wing.it

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At the Atlanta Bonsai Society, the judge selects a Best in Show, Best Expert, Best Enthusiast, and Best Novice. Novice being someone new to the hobby. He can also award Honarable Mentions at his/her discretion.

The problem with this system is most of the members think they’re Experts! Hardly anyone enters as “Enthusiast”.

At one time, we had ribbons given by style: Best Slant, Best Cascade, Best Informal Upright, etc. And second place, and third place ribbon, too. It seemed like almost every tree got some sort of ribbon.

At BIB, the awards are determined by tree species and size. So, it’s Best Large Conifer, Best Medium Deciduous, Best Large Broadleaf, etc. There’s also a category for Best Shohin, and one for Best Unusual Style. And a Best in Show.

There’s all kinds of different ways to do it.

I think the public likes to have award winners. I have seen them say things likes, “Look over here, honey, this one’s Best in Show!” And I think it helps educate everyone to have examples of superior trees (and displays) to demonstrate the art is more than just sticking a tree in a pot.
Yes!
And it can also help them understand why the trees that they used to think were GREAT, are actually mediocre......and the one with the ribbon has the ribbon for a reason.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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The Birmingham club was agonizingly against judged shows for years. I made a hard and somewhat contentious push for judging the show, and when we finally got it done, the quality of our show improved by leaps and bounds.

Kathy Shaner has been our show judge now for the last 4-5 years, and she has asked me to walk the show with her while she judged it for the last 3 years or so. It is my favorite part of the show, spending an hour with her alone in the room while she goes through the judging process. I can’t say I have agreed with all of her selections, but she is the judge, and it’s her call.

We judge by experience categories: beginner (under 3 years), intermediate (3-7), and experienced (over 7). Then in each experience level, 1st and 2nd place awards are given by tree type, deciduous, evergreen, flowering/fruiting, and tropical. Finally, from among the awards, a Best in Show is selected.

We also make judging completely optional, by placing a small dot on the tree tag which marks the tree as “exhibition only”.
 

Adair M

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The Birmingham club was agonizingly against judged shows for years. I made a hard and somewhat contentious push for judging the show, and when we finally got it done, the quality of our show improved by leaps and bounds.

Kathy Shaner has been our show judge now for the last 4-5 years, and she has asked me to walk the show with her while she judged it for the last 3 years or so. It is my favorite part of the show, spending an hour with her alone in the room while she goes through the judging process. I can’t say I have agreed with all of her selections, but she is the judge, and it’s her call.

We judge by experience categories: beginner (under 3 years), intermediate (3-7), and experienced (over 7). Then in each experience level, 1st and 2nd place awards are given by tree type, deciduous, evergreen, flowering/fruiting, and tropical. Finally, from among the awards, a Best in Show is selected.

We also make judging completely optional, by placing a small dot on the tree tag which marks the tree as “exhibition only”.
Submitting a tree into a show, where others will be looking at it, is a great motivator for doing all the little things that you know you should do, but haven’t. All the “attention to detail stuff”.

Then, entering a judged show, compounds that motivation.

Now, I know some say they “do bonsai because it’s relaxing”, so they may think that showing, and the stress that will create, is contrary to their goal of relaxation. However, I take the view that people want to improve their trees. Part of the “relaxation” comes from messing with their trees, and when their attention is focused on their trees, their minds are off the “worries of the world”. So, improving your trees, doing all the little things you do to prep for a show, or just have a show worthy tree, gives you more things to do with your tree! More tree time = more relaxation!
 

0soyoung

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she has asked me to walk the show with her while she judged it for the last 3 years or so. It is my favorite part of the show, spending an hour with her alone in the room while she goes through the judging process. I can’t say I have agreed with all of her selections, but she is the judge, and it’s her call.
I'd show/hide every tree I've got for that!

But she'd probably kick my argumentative ass out of the room anyway.
 

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