Competition

peterbone

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What would be the point??
What's the point in an art exhibition of paintings or sculpture? There isn't normally a competitive aspect to an art exhibition, so I've always found competitive bonsai a bit strange.

I think it can have a negative effect. People's opinion on what makes a good bonsai becomes aligned and then all trees start to look the same. Take a look at all the helmet shaped trees at Japanese shows. Art should be subjective, which then leads to greater diversity.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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I'd show/hide every tree I've got for that!

But she'd probably kick my argumentative ass out of the room anyway.
It’s abundantly clear once you’re in that setting that it would not be the appropriate venue for arguing.?
 

Brian Van Fleet

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What's the point in an art exhibition of paintings or sculpture? There isn't normally a competitive aspect to an art exhibition, so I've always found competitive bonsai a bit strange.

I think it can have a negative effect. People's opinion on what makes a good bonsai becomes aligned and then all trees start to look the same. Take a look at all the helmet shaped trees at Japanese shows. Art should be subjective, which then leads to greater diversity.
Greater diversity doesn’t gurantee greater quality. But my perspective is also that my work should aspire to be like the great trees shown at the Japanese shows. incidentally, there is incredible diversity among those trees that appear to have green helmets if you know what you’re looking at.
 

Arcto

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So some here would argue that a critique without competitive judging would not bring the tree quality as high, as fast as having the competition too? Another question. Does judging discourage people from pushing the outer boundaries of design due to a need to play it a little safe and stay within a range of what is considered a traditionally acceptable tree?
 

Arcto

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@Arcto,

when pushing a Design, how far does the health of a tree matter ?
Just wondering?
Good Day
Anthony
My personal opinion? All important. Pushing a tree into visible poor health does not reflect well on the artist’s skill on the horticultural side. Features such as jin, hollows, etc. I feel are fine as long as there is good overall health. Others here with experience in competition and judging are welcome to weigh in with their views.
 

JudyB

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Our local show is not judged -except for a general peoples choice, and a members choice, which are pretty much dismissible in my mind. I would welcome having a genuine critique of the trees, with an actual judge of merit. You never learn if you don't face the music.
 

rockm

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What's the point in an art exhibition of paintings or sculpture? There isn't normally a competitive aspect to an art exhibition, so I've always found competitive bonsai a bit strange.

I think it can have a negative effect. People's opinion on what makes a good bonsai becomes aligned and then all trees start to look the same. Take a look at all the helmet shaped trees at Japanese shows. Art should be subjective, which then leads to greater diversity.
This is the kind of thinking that makes mediocre cookie cutter bonsai. The logic is cracked. The thought that "all trees become aligned" is not what happens. Go to a big show. look at the trees being exhibited. I will bet you are hard pressed to see any that are alike and far from the "helmet shaped" stuff you think is the end product of competition. The object is to MAKE YOUR TREE STAND OUT, not mix in. Therefore exhibited trees use rules, but also break them knowledgeably to create unique trees. This is doubly so for collected trees.

Want to keep the cookie cutter esthetic--keep on making trees without any competition. That's what was happening in the U.S. for decades, until a few people thought out of the box.

And yes, there are THOUSANDS of art competitions all over the world all the time. Here is but one. I know a few of the competitors--prizes are given regularly in "exhibitions'
https://associationofanimalartists.com/exhibitions-2/
 

rockm

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@Arcto,

when pushing a Design, how far does the health of a tree matter ?
Just wondering?
Good Day
Anthony
Well, a dead or weak tree won't win anything. Exhibitions and contests promote healthy trees and puts them out there where they can be seen. Someone who has a weak Black Pine will see what a healthy one looks like...Healthy trees develop faster and more completely than weaker ones.
 

Anthony

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So lumber takes 35 to 50 years to mature to durability.
Some lumber never reaches that stage,
BUT your tree needs white wood/ hollows etc. do you do it ?

Will those various epoxies work ?
 

coh

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What's the point in an art exhibition of paintings or sculpture? There isn't normally a competitive aspect to an art exhibition, so I've always found competitive bonsai a bit strange.

I think it can have a negative effect. People's opinion on what makes a good bonsai becomes aligned and then all trees start to look the same. Take a look at all the helmet shaped trees at Japanese shows. Art should be subjective, which then leads to greater diversity.
I used to paint semi-seriously (quit my regular job for a few years to pursue painting, eventually realized the folly of that and went back to my old job). I would say that 90% or more
of the shows that I participated in were judged in some way. It had both positive and negative impacts. I knew some artists who painted specifically for the judge, i.e. if they knew that a
particular judge liked barns they'd paint and enter paintings of barns. Some shows were juried, where the judge picked the paintings that would be in the show. Others were open, all paintings
accepted and judged. People seemed to generally put their best works forward regardless of the type of show, though. It's hard to say how much impact the presence of awards (especially
$$) had on the quality of the work people were doing. I saw it work both ways - knew one artist who was really quite talented but for some reason she never won any major awards, eventually
she stopped participating. I'm sure others were motivated to work on their skills by the presence of awards but most want to work and improve anyway. For those who are happy with what they
are doing, why should someone else care...

Now, if you're talking about a traveling exhibition of Monet or Renoir or some other historical artist, then yeah - those are not judged.
 

rockm

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I don't get the squeamishness with competitions. Exhibitions have been the driving force behind bonsai in Japan for decades.

I've posted this article before. It's worth a read. Written by the first director of the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum. It can change your perspective on bonsai--competition in particular.
https://www.japanpolicyforum.jp/archives/culture/pt20100928160529.html

The pertinent stuff:
"Unlike other traditional arts, bonsai has never developed well-defined schools or an iemoto system to transmit the accepted forms and evaluate whether an individual practitioner has mastered them sufficiently. What takes its place in the world of bonsai is the modern social phenomenon of the exhibition, imported from the West in the Meiji era. It is by continually holding exhibitions that bonsai has found a way of transmitting the forms and evaluating skills, and of assessing the creativity of a practitioner as expressed in the way he or she uses those forms. It has therefore succeeded in performing its role as a “traditional art.” The best-known exhibition of all is the annual Kokufū Bonsai Exhibition, first held in 1927. As can be seen all too readily from the appearance of its cities, modern Japan has consistently preferred repeated cycles of destruction and rebuilding to a sustained effort to maintain the old. Within this cultural context, the art of bonsai, nearly two hundred years after it began, and with an exhibition itself already more than 80 years old, has managed to carve out an impressive tradition indeed."
 

just.wing.it

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don't get the squeamishness with competitions.
.......amongst westerners (cant speak for Japanese) I'd say its because the general attitudes, ways and overall behaviors of those who are "the competitive types" is 180 degrees out of phase with those who are the "solitary, introvert, artistic types".

Its a collision of 2 worlds, if you will.

Some people are both ways, most are one or the other.

Just a thought.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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I agree in principle with most of the ''pro-competition'' comments. I am an active member of the Milwaukee bonsai society and occasionally drop in on the Midwest Bonsai Society (which is the ''Chicago Bonsai Society'') Travel time to either groups meeting is nearly the same for me. Both groups have a category in their shows ''For Exhibit Only''. If one for cultural reasons, or personal reasons feels they do not want their tree judged, it can be displayed without being judged. Both groups require that a previous award winning tree may not be exhibited in consecutive shows. Milwaukee encourages members to not submit a tree for judging if it previously won an award for 5 years or until after the tree has undergone a significant change in style. Chicago has a similar rule, might vary on number of years. Point is, last years ''Best of Show'' can only be shown as ''For Exhibit Only'' for a number of years, or until it has been restyled. Culturally in the USA competition is usually viewed as a positive. I know in some other cultures, and religions competition is viewed negatively. I can't speak to this with specifics, but I know it exists. So it is fine if one does not want their trees judged. Just keep them at home, or join a club that does not judge their trees. And certainly most venues with Judged Shows have a category for Exhibition only trees. You can have your trees seen without them being judged.

I enjoy the critique and analysis that judging encourages, at least in the USA. My bonsai has become better once I decided to show my trees occasionally.
 
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I established the US National Bonsai Exhibitions in 2008, against advice from across the United States and Canada that it would not succeed. They thought the area of the United States is large and people will not want or find it difficult to transport bonsai across our country. It was established for one purpose only, to display fine quality bonsai in the United States. The US National Bonsai Exhibitions were not designed to highlight artists, professionals or hobbyists; it was about the trees, NOT people.

Here are some statistics for the first five US National Bonsai Exhibitions: I have not had time to include the recent, successful 2018 6thUS National Bonsai Exhibition, have been busy publishing the Commemorative Album and the 157th issue of International BONSAI.

A total of 1,634 bonsai submissions were received and 1,336 trees were displayed.

Bonsai were submitted from 679 different exhibitors and 517 exhibitors were accepted from 40 states and Puerto Rico, with special exhibits from two provinces of Canada.

Each year over 100 different species and cultivars were represented and a total of 470 shohin bonsai were displayed.

Although not the original purpose, the US National Bonsai Exhibitions have been good for the bonsai business in the United States. There has been an increase in the sale of wire, especially in smaller sizes necessary to refine bonsai design. There has also been significant increase in the commission of custom-made bonsai containers and display tables needed for formal displays. Professional bonsai artists have enjoyed the needed additional income from assisting people develop, refine and prepare their bonsai for display.

All of this is in addition to raising the level of bonsai in the United States because people are now aiming to have their bonsai displayed in a US National Bonsai Exhibition.

I believe it’s a good thing I did not listen to the naysayers and proceeded, with lots of support and help from sponsors, contributors and people who thought like me to establish a US National Bonsai Exhibition.
 

Adair M

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View attachment 232089
I established the US National Bonsai Exhibitions in 2008, against advice from across the United States and Canada that it would not succeed. They thought the area of the United States is large and people will not want or find it difficult to transport bonsai across our country. It was established for one purpose only, to display fine quality bonsai in the United States. The US National Bonsai Exhibitions were not designed to highlight artists, professionals or hobbyists; it was about the trees, NOT people.

Here are some statistics for the first five US National Bonsai Exhibitions: I have not had time to include the recent, successful 2018 6thUS National Bonsai Exhibition, have been busy publishing the Commemorative Album and the 157th issue of International BONSAI.

A total of 1,634 bonsai submissions were received and 1,336 trees were displayed.

Bonsai were submitted from 679 different exhibitors and 517 exhibitors were accepted from 40 states and Puerto Rico, with special exhibits from two provinces of Canada.

Each year over 100 different species and cultivars were represented and a total of 470 shohin bonsai were displayed.

Although not the original purpose, the US National Bonsai Exhibitions have been good for the bonsai business in the United States. There has been an increase in the sale of wire, especially in smaller sizes necessary to refine bonsai design. There has also been significant increase in the commission of custom-made bonsai containers and display tables needed for formal displays. Professional bonsai artists have enjoyed the needed additional income from assisting people develop, refine and prepare their bonsai for display.

All of this is in addition to raising the level of bonsai in the United States because people are now aiming to have their bonsai displayed in a US National Bonsai Exhibition.

I believe it’s a good thing I did not listen to the naysayers and proceeded, with lots of support and help from sponsors, contributors and people who thought like me to establish a US National Bonsai Exhibition.
Bill, I’m already prepping trees for the next one!
 

Arcto

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So lumber takes 35 to 50 years to mature to durability.
Some lumber never reaches that stage,
BUT your tree needs white wood/ hollows etc. do you do it ?

Will those various epoxies work ?
Not quite sure I fully understand the questions, but yes. I do attempt to make convincing deadwood features. Epoxies help. Some better than others, but my experience is that they all need to be reapplied from time to time
 

Arcto

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View attachment 232089
I established the US National Bonsai Exhibitions in 2008, against advice from across the United States and Canada that it would not succeed. They thought the area of the United States is large and people will not want or find it difficult to transport bonsai across our country. It was established for one purpose only, to display fine quality bonsai in the United States. The US National Bonsai Exhibitions were not designed to highlight artists, professionals or hobbyists; it was about the trees, NOT people.

Here are some statistics for the first five US National Bonsai Exhibitions: I have not had time to include the recent, successful 2018 6thUS National Bonsai Exhibition, have been busy publishing the Commemorative Album and the 157th issue of International BONSAI.

A total of 1,634 bonsai submissions were received and 1,336 trees were displayed.

Bonsai were submitted from 679 different exhibitors and 517 exhibitors were accepted from 40 states and Puerto Rico, with special exhibits from two provinces of Canada.

Each year over 100 different species and cultivars were represented and a total of 470 shohin bonsai were displayed.

Although not the original purpose, the US National Bonsai Exhibitions have been good for the bonsai business in the United States. There has been an increase in the sale of wire, especially in smaller sizes necessary to refine bonsai design. There has also been significant increase in the commission of custom-made bonsai containers and display tables needed for formal displays. Professional bonsai artists have enjoyed the needed additional income from assisting people develop, refine and prepare their bonsai for display.

All of this is in addition to raising the level of bonsai in the United States because people are now aiming to have their bonsai displayed in a US National Bonsai Exhibition.

I believe it’s a good thing I did not listen to the naysayers and proceeded, with lots of support and help from sponsors, contributors and people who thought like me to establish a US National Bonsai Exhibition.

So was the competition part of the Nationals something you always invisioned having in the exhibition, or did it naturally evolve due to interest from the participants?
 

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