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Seeing the discussion of "American Bonsai" has popped back up... just thought I would share a couple of Photos of what I am doing to advance the scene! These are two of my trees and their displays, that I set up yesterday, and are open to public viewing as of tonight for any folks in the Florida area, at our annual BSF Convention 2016.

The first is a Fuikien Tea, the second a Green Island Ficus. Can post some follow-up pics and close-ups if everyone would like to see more! Thanks!


FukienTeaDisplay1A.jpg





FicusDisplay1A.jpg
 

Adair M

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Stacy, I'm not saying those aren't creative displays, but nothing about them says "American bonsai" to me.

You've taken the scroll (which has no American connotations in my mind), and used it as the back drop and floor.

The displays are very interesting, just not "American" to my eye.

One comment, the display is beautiful! However, it dimishes the tree as the focal point of the display. The overall "display" is the focus, and the tree has just become one element of the overall composition.
 

Cypress187

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Waw, very nice, maybe the background is distracting with the colors and stuff. Very cool work man.
 

Giga

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Stacy, I'm not saying those aren't creative displays, but nothing about them says "American bonsai" to me.

You've taken the scroll (which has no American connotations in my mind), and used it as the back drop and floor.

The displays are very interesting, just not "American" to my eye.

One comment, the display is beautiful! However, it dimishes the tree as the focal point of the display. The overall "display" is the focus, and the tree has just become one element of the overall composition.
I have to agree with this, Feels to much going on and away from the tree. While great, doesn't' feel "American"- maybe use a hamburger as a accent:rolleyes:
 

LanceMac10

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Looks cool to me! I can see us splitting a twelve-pack of some good brew, shootin' the shit and admiring where your thoughts and experiences have guided your hand.....and it's cool if I gotta' go in the alley to have a cigarette!
Thanks for sharing.
 

petegreg

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I'm not the man that can evaluate this...I like it. Whether it's American or not I don't know. But the scrolls put on the table and their colours remind me the visits of some historical parts of your State Capitals. Nice.
 

jriddell88

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The displays are very interesting, just not "American" to my eye.
Since were on the discussion, what would you consider an American display in your eyes ? I agree it is a bit distracting , none the less interesting for sure. I feel the trees need to be the focal point of course because the trees are what we work so hard on. But please do explain your view of American bonsai ? Hell I don't even know what to say.
 
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Stacy, I'm not saying those aren't creative displays, but nothing about them says "American bonsai" to me.

You've taken the scroll (which has no American connotations in my mind), and used it as the back drop and floor.

The displays are very interesting, just not "American" to my eye.

One comment, the display is beautiful! However, it dimishes the tree as the focal point of the display. The overall "display" is the focus, and the tree has just become one element of the overall composition.
Thanks for the reply!
Sure thing this is "American Bonsai"...
I am American
I have taken the Scroll, a "Japanese" influence to Bonsai... made it my own, painted as an "American" interpretation of Japanese, and Chinese culture. Questioned it traditional use, and formalities, by not only inserting my tree within it's frame making the tree part of the scene, as well as continuing the scroll down unto the table to form the mat. Thus making the piece one solid composition.

In the case of the Fuikien Tea, I have quite literally taken a "Mallsai"... A piece of material that Chinese people keeping importing to us, that most in the "American Bonsai" scene would say is crap... and have quite literally polished a turd... I have made a piece of Art.

This is totally representative of what America is all about...

Nothing, that I know of in America, except for perhaps Native American culture, is indigenous to America itself... Right? Are we not the great melting pot? I mean, where does Bonsai originate from in the first place?
99 percent of what one buys from Taco Bell, is not Mexican food, yet how many folks refer to it as "American food", and sure a shit, no one in Mexico would eat that crap!

If a tourist goes to Chinatown in let's say San Francisco... are they really seeing a true representation of what Chinese Culture is all about, or are they actually seeing an "American" version? Seeing that the people there are, well... "American". I mean, I know it's kosher nowadays to think only white people are true Americans... but there are a vast majority of "others", out there that have also contributed to making America what it is.

Not everything in America has to be representative of John Wayne, in order for it to be "American"...
 

Vance Wood

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Seeing the discussion of "American Bonsai" has popped back up... just thought I would share a couple of Photos of what I am doing to advance the scene! These are two of my trees and their displays, that I set up yesterday, and are open to public viewing as of tonight for any folks in the Florida area, at our annual BSF Convention 2016.

The first is a Fuikien Tea, the second a Green Island Ficus. Can post some follow-up pics and close-ups if everyone would like to see more! Thanks!


View attachment 106307





View attachment 106308
I think the entire display is interesting and very pleasing. You have borrowed many of the Asian elements and put them together into what you have shown here--- more of which I would like to see you post.
 

Adair M

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Thanks for the reply!
Sure thing this is "American Bonsai"...
I am American
I have taken the Scroll, a "Japanese" influence to Bonsai... made it my own, painted as an "American" interpretation of Japanese, and Chinese culture. Questioned it traditional use, and formalities, by not only inserting my tree within it's frame making the tree part of the scene, as well as continuing the scroll down unto the table to form the mat. Thus making the piece one solid composition.

In the case of the Fuikien Tea, I have quite literally taken a "Mallsai"... A piece of material that Chinese people keeping importing to us, that most in the "American Bonsai" scene would say is crap... and have quite literally polished a turd... I have made a piece of Art.

This is totally representative of what America is all about...

Nothing, that I know of in America, except for perhaps Native American culture, is indigenous to America itself... Right? Are we not the great melting pot? I mean, where does Bonsai originate from in the first place?
99 percent of what one buys from Taco Bell, is not Mexican food, yet how many folks refer to it as "American food", and sure a shit, no one in Mexico would eat that crap!

If a tourist goes to Chinatown in let's say San Francisco... are they really seeing a true representation of what Chinese Culture is all about, or are they actually seeing an "American" version? Seeing that the people there are, well... "American". I mean, I know it's kosher nowadays to think only white people are true Americans... but there are a vast majority of "others", out there that have also contributed to making America what it is.

Not everything in America has to be representative of John Wayne, in order for it to be "American"...
You're right, Stacy. All of it. Which is why I think this whole "American Bonsai" movement is horse droppings!

I said I thought your display is beautiful. Very well done. But, it's all about the display. The tree is pretty much lost in it.

I don't think that's what we want to to with "American bonsai".

First off, to be "American", I think you need to be using species of trees native to America. Not a Fukian Tea or a Ficus.

As to using cultural influences, none of us are orininally from here except the Native Americans, who themselves were migrants from Asia. So, should our "scrolls" instead be Apache blankets? Our accents be made of turquoise and silver?

No, truely, I think the whole movement is a crock. Effort is spent on defending it when the effort should be placed to trying to advance our native trees to the level that the Japanese have advanced their trees. THAT's what American Bonsai should be focusing on. Not how to display them. How to develop and refine them.

Most of the trees at the Artisan's Cup are still unrefined. Great trees, yes. But still unrefined. Unless, unrefined is "American Bonsai"!

I still think it's a tempest in a teapot!
 

Adair M

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Fill your hand you son o.....:p
View attachment 106316

@sawgrass I agree with you on all fronts! C'mon, The Duke wasn't ALL bad!:D
I have a horse in my pasture that was once part of John Wayne's herd! We call him "Duke" for obvious reasons! He's an American Quarter Horse. Registered name: "Classic John Wayne".

He was bred to be a Reining Horse. He has superb bloodlines. He was going to be kept as a stud. But he grew too big! They like the Reiners (Reining is an event at Horse shows that highlights the horses' speed and agility) to be smaller, yet powerful. They can spin faster when they're smaller. Anyway, he grew too big, so he was gelded. And used as a Western Pleasure horse. Big, kind, and lazy. Taught zillions of kids to ride. Safely.

My son won 7th place in the GA State 4H Show on him.

He had a stroke about a year and a half ago, so he's retired now. He's still a lovable ole thing!
 
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You're right, Stacy. All of it. Which is why I think this whole "American Bonsai" movement is horse droppings!

I said I thought your display is beautiful. Very well done. But, it's all about the display. The tree is pretty much lost in it.

I don't think that's what we want to to with "American bonsai".

First off, to be "American", I think you need to be using species of trees native to America. Not a Fukian Tea or a Ficus.

As to using cultural influences, none of us are orininally from here except the Native Americans, who themselves were migrants from Asia. So, should our "scrolls" instead be Apache blankets? Our accents be made of turquoise and silver?

No, truely, I think the whole movement is a crock. Effort is spent on defending it when the effort should be placed to trying to advance our native trees to the level that the Japanese have advanced their trees. THAT's what American Bonsai should be focusing on. Not how to display them. How to develop and refine them.

Most of the trees at the Artisan's Cup are still unrefined. Great trees, yes. But still unrefined. Unless, unrefined is "American Bonsai"!

I still think it's a tempest in a teapot!
I also, forgot to mention, that I as an American doing Bonsai, am also questioning (not necessarily intentionally, seeing my main goal was to just create a nice display), the role in which the tree has to be the focal point... can it exist in an environment, seeing that in nature, trees don't actually exist in a vacuum... but coincide with other objects in their environment. For instance like the sky, perhaps mountains behind, birds flying by etc.

All of which has been done for years in traditional display of the Japanese... Seeing that they use scrolls to often depict these kind of things, as well as accent plants... And let's not obviously forget landscape plantings on slabs or rock plantings, that originate mostly from penjing.

So, how much is too much, that it takes away from the tree? For some... obviously they probably would agree with the traditional Japanese logic, that it is as you say... all about the trees... The Chinese for centuries, have been making it all about the environment in which the trees exist, as well as the trees. As an American, I believe we can explore more of this, and branch out, which is why my display is what it is.

In a photo, obviously one gets a very narrow view of what actually is happening. You are not able to walk around the tree and the display, and therefore are not able to comprehend how the tree interacts with it's environment. With that said... in this day in age and our common way of life, I think our brains are more than able to comprehend more than one thing at a time, and easily come to terms with the notion that it is all about the trees... especially seeing that the sign leading into the Exhibit, says usually "Bonsai"... so, it really should come to no shock, what folks will be looking at when they enter the room... With that said, you and others will be able to get a chance to see the Fuikien Tea and it's display first hand, seeing I have just been informed that it will now be included in the US National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester.

As far as the "American Bonsai" movement and your disregard towards it... cheer up! I am one of the folks that believe American Bonsai should be what it wants to be! I am not the one telling folks what they can and cannot do... I didn't hold a convention trying to define it, have a panel of judges that consisted of only 2 Americans tell what our scene should look like, and show only a small percentage of what Americans actually work on... I think if a person wants to be able to use a scroll, than this is no more or less un-American Bonsai, than Bonsai itself. I also, you will recall, am not the one saying my display is not American... So, you and your view that American Bonsai should be all about being Japanese... would always be safe with me! Which would be the point I have been arguing since the beginning, that "American Bonsai", can be what it wants to be...
 
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jriddell88

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I'm sure you will get lots of feedback usually the ones to jump in first and say it is not..hint hint...have no artistic ability and there is a difference in someone teaching you how to refine a tree , etc, and creating a artistic piece. They envy you.good job!
 

TomB

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Declarations up front:
(a) I'm not American, so probably shouldn't comment!
(b) I think your displays are striking and well executed artworks.

There are some interesting ideas here, that raise questions.

Your appropriation and subversion of 'classical bonsai' standards and expectations is clear and effective, and your arguments about that are coherent.

However, does this mean that you are defining 'American Bonsai' as a reaction to other influences, and not as an art/craft form with its own identity in and of itself?

Would someone not versed in the traditions and vocabulary of bonsai recognise what you are doing as something authentically American?
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Nice displays, interesting. I like the scenes, I don't feel they totally overpower the trees. It is a whole visual package, the trees are not ''the only thing'' you notice. But I can see the point that some would feel the trees are not dominant enough as focal points. I appreciate them and glad they are displays in a public show.

uh, just to a contrary bastard, Traditional Japanese bonsai includes a fair number of species not native to Japan. True the big 3 are native, JBP, JWP & Shimpaku, but many popular species are from China, and from other parts of the world. Not a big deal really,

Traditional Japanese Bonsai, especially in display uses references to natural scenes in Japan, and or Japanese cultural references and cultural symbols. In my current thought to be called ''American Bonsai'' the dispaly would reference natural scenes in America, also, or ''American'' culture and symbols.

But would copying style elements from Frank Loydd Wright in your stand designs be an American reference or a Japanese reference? F L Wright spent time in Japan studying their design elements, and borrowed here and there from them.

It all gives me a head ache, At which point I end up agreeing with Adair about horse manure.
 

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