Ryan Neil interview of Bill Valavanis

rockm

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I found this riveting. I’ve seen and heard from Ryan Neil a lot, but have heard and seen less of Mr Valavanis. Seems to be genuine respect amongst these two.

That is an interesting video. Thanks for posting.

Too bad you haven't heard more about Bill V. Not surprising though, if you're younger (under 35 or so).

He has been a major presence in bonsai for decades. He was doing bonsai before Ryan was born with legends from Yuji Yoshimura to John Naka. He's better connected to the Japanese scene than, arguably, anyone in the U.S.
 

Mark

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This is a unique video in many ways
and offers a number of opportunities to gain knowledge & insight. No matter where you are in your Bonsai journey, if you are interested growing your understanding of the Art of Bonsai watching this fast paced but long exchange will be worth while.
Few people know and even those who do can hardly fathom the dedication to the Study of Bonsai that Wm. N. Valavanis has had for over 50 years (56 or 57)!!!
Last year Bill was inducted into the Bonsai Hall of Fame in Washington @ the US National Arboretum. It was my high honor to introduce Bill at the Induction Ceremony. The most difficult part was trying to cover all his accomplishments in the allowed time. I shared my view that NO ONE
is likely to ever come close to doing all that Bill has done for Bonsai over such a long period of time and at such a high level in so many areas of the Art.
I also must commend Ryan for seeking out this chance to ask so many excellent and burning questions of a man he has come to respect as his understanding of the magnitude of all Bill has achieved now has been revealed.
 

coh

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Very interesting video. I've already watched it 3 times I think.
 

Bonsai Nut

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As much as I try to read everything on the site, there are days when I miss important posts. This is worth a second look for anyone who missed it the first time around.

I first met @William N. Valavanis 25 years ago (!) at a MidWest Bonsai Society show. In addition to his knowledge of bonsai, he is one of the hardest-working pros in the business - and one of the most well-traveled. It is fun to see him out here in California for the Golden State Bonsai Federation exhibitions!
 

PiVo

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I found this interview interesting. Especially the competence and determination of Ryan Neil in managing the interview struck me favorably, he seemed to me by now a true master, sure of himself that interacts on a par with any interlocutor, even much one older than him. In the end, however, the person who disappointed me most was Bill Valavanis, more and more anchored (in my opinion of course) on positions that are too conservative and not very open to the future of the bonsai art. I mean, just look at one of the countless videos available on the net where Bill presents his garden and his bonsai: super classic aesthetic taste, no openness to a naturalistic or anyway modern perspective. He is a big fan of bonsai, yes. A good person, certainly. Thanks to him, but is he maybe ready to retirement and leave the pace to so one else?
 

coh

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I found this interview interesting. Especially the competence and determination of Ryan Neil in managing the interview struck me favorably, he seemed to me by now a true master, sure of himself that interacts on a par with any interlocutor, even much one older than him. In the end, however, the person who disappointed me most was Bill Valavanis, more and more anchored (in my opinion of course) on positions that are too conservative and not very open to the future of the bonsai art. I mean, just look at one of the countless videos available on the net where Bill presents his garden and his bonsai: super classic aesthetic taste, no openness to a naturalistic or anyway modern perspective. He is a big fan of bonsai, yes. A good person, certainly. Thanks to him, but is he maybe ready to retirement and leave the pace to so one else?
Interesting first post.
 

Bonsai Nut

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I found this interview interesting.
I assume you have never met Bill, in which case you are responding to the portrayal of Bill (online, in video)... versus the person. I don't disagree with some of your points... but without the context of knowing Bill, the person, what you perceive as a possible negative, I view as a positive. I appreciate the fact that he embraces a specific aesthetic... and does not stray from it. Far better (in my opinion) to represent a specific perspective, and not stray from it, than to be a Jack of all trades... and master of none.

I appreciate bonsai as a hobby or an interest. Bill embraces it as a life. I can't describe it differently. He is a very private and personal individual who speaks through his art form. I appreciate him for who he is... versus who he isn't.
 

rockm

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I found this interview interesting. Especially the competence and determination of Ryan Neil in managing the interview struck me favorably, he seemed to me by now a true master, sure of himself that interacts on a par with any interlocutor, even much tne older than him. In the end, however, the person who disappointed me most was Bill Valavanis, more and more anchored (in my opinion of course) on positions that are too conservative and not very open to the future of the bonsai art. I mean, just look at one of the countless videos available on the net where Bill presents his garden and his bonsai: super classic aesthetic taste, no openness to a naturalistic or anyway modern perspective. He is a big fan of bonsai, yes. A good person, certainly. Thanks to him, but is he maybe ready to retirement and leave the pace to so one else?
Wow. Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees.

Retirement because he doesn't fit your mold of "natural bonsai?" Bill V. has been, and continues to be, arguably one of the most important backers of "natural" and plain old bonsai in the U.S. and globally. Have you heard of the "Nationals" show he puts on every couple of years? It sets the bar for bonsai in the U.S.-- regularly. Ryan N. has had ONE competition with "groundbreaking" trees. Bill has done, and continues to, do the same with more trees, more people and more often.

Ryan N. will tell you that, so will just about anyone who owns or makes stodgy "traditional" trees you seem to dislike, and the "natural' trees you hold above everything.

Old, my friend, in bonsai is not obsolete. It is experience and knowledge. It is not really smart or wise to push it aside and discount it...
 

coh

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Back under the bridge now troll
Probably someone who already posts here (or used to post here) under a different name, just trying to stir up trouble. I have a few ideas as to who it might be, but they'll probably never post again from that account.
 

Adair M

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Probably someone who already posts here (or used to post here) under a different name, just trying to stir up trouble. I have a few ideas as to who it might be, but they'll probably never post again from that account.
What??? Are you implying there’s a Ryan Neil cult? Those who believe that only Pacific Northwest yamadori are deserving to be bonsai??? Who knew?

What’s next??? Are they going to ban my JBP? I’ll have to graft ponderosa onto JBP trunks?
 

PiVo

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I don't know what the word “troll“ really means. I don't think it's a compliment anyway. I am a simple bonsai lover. I am not a professional nor a supposed “expert”. It is not my intention to create troubles. it is not my intention to offend anyone. it is not my intention to disrespect Mr. Valavanis. I wrote what I wrote because I think so and I would like to see more creativity and less conformity in the (not japanese) bonsai panorama (and yes, as Mr. Valavanis said, maybe it’s better to use a new name for bonsai if you are deeply innovating it). Perhaps I made a mistake in choosing my words, I apologize for that, but I was only wondering if the american (and maybe the global) bonsai panorama needs some new, young and more innovative leader. that's all. Always with respect and gratitude towards Mr. Valavanis for what he has done until this moment. Just wanted to introduce an idea to stimulate a debate. If no one agrees with me, obviously I was wrong to express this simple idea in this forum. My mistake, sorry. I won't bother you anymore...
PiVo
 

Adair M

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I don't know what the word “troll“ really means. I don't think it's a compliment anyway. I am a simple bonsai lover. I am not a professional nor a supposed “expert”. It is not my intention to create troubles. it is not my intention to offend anyone. it is not my intention to disrespect Mr. Valavanis. I wrote what I wrote because I think so and I would like to see more creativity and less conformity in the (not japanese) bonsai panorama (and yes, as Mr. Valavanis said, maybe it’s better to use a new name for bonsai if you are deeply innovating it). Perhaps I made a mistake in choosing my words, I apologize for that, but I was only wondering if the american (and maybe the global) bonsai panorama needs some new, young and more innovative leader. that's all. Always with respect and gratitude towards Mr. Valavanis for what he has done until this moment. Just wanted to introduce an idea to stimulate a debate. If no one agrees with me, obviously I was wrong to express this simple idea in this forum. My mistake, sorry. I won't bother you anymore...
PiVo
Dude, Valavanis has been inducted into the American Bonsai Hall of Fame. There’s a reason why. He has put on the National Exhibition 6 times, so far. And two National Shohin Exhibitions. He has been publishing International Bonsai magazine since 1979. He’s authored several books on bonsai. He judges shows... in Japan!

Ryan is very talented, yes, he spent 7 years with Kimura. But he has far less experience than does Bill.

The good thing, we don’t have to choose between them. There’s room in bonsai for many talented artists, and their visions of what bonsai can be.
 

Colorado

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What??? Are you implying there’s a Ryan Neil cult? Those who believe that only Pacific Northwest yamadori are deserving to be bonsai??? Who knew?

What’s next??? Are they going to ban my JBP? I’ll have to graft ponderosa onto JBP trunks?
Of course not.

Ponderosa needles are far too long. You have to graft piñon with that nice, short needle length.

😜
 

Mayank

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I don't know what the word “troll“ really means. I don't think it's a compliment anyway. I am a simple bonsai lover. I am not a professional nor a supposed “expert”. It is not my intention to create troubles. it is not my intention to offend anyone. it is not my intention to disrespect Mr. Valavanis. I wrote what I wrote because I think so and I would like to see more creativity and less conformity in the (not japanese) bonsai panorama (and yes, as Mr. Valavanis said, maybe it’s better to use a new name for bonsai if you are deeply innovating it). Perhaps I made a mistake in choosing my words, I apologize for that, but I was only wondering if the american (and maybe the global) bonsai panorama needs some new, young and more innovative leader. that's all. Always with respect and gratitude towards Mr. Valavanis for what he has done until this moment. Just wanted to introduce an idea to stimulate a debate. If no one agrees with me, obviously I was wrong to express this simple idea in this forum. My mistake, sorry. I won't bother you anymore...
PiVo
Wow, your first post on a forum and it's to introduce ideas to stimulate a debate? Need to earn your stripes first before you have such grandiose designs in my humble opinion. Bill is a legend. Ryan is fantastic as well. That is why it was so cool to see them interacting in that video. I bet if Ryan read what you wrote he would read you the riot act. Perhaps you are based outside of the US and do not understand Bill's contribution to US bonsai.
 

Smoke

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I don't know what the word “troll“ really means. I don't think it's a compliment anyway. I am a simple bonsai lover. I am not a professional nor a supposed “expert”. It is not my intention to create troubles. it is not my intention to offend anyone. it is not my intention to disrespect Mr. Valavanis. I wrote what I wrote because I think so and I would like to see more creativity and less conformity in the (not japanese) bonsai panorama (and yes, as Mr. Valavanis said, maybe it’s better to use a new name for bonsai if you are deeply innovating it). Perhaps I made a mistake in choosing my words, I apologize for that, but I was only wondering if the american (and maybe the global) bonsai panorama needs some new, young and more innovative leader. that's all. Always with respect and gratitude towards Mr. Valavanis for what he has done until this moment. Just wanted to introduce an idea to stimulate a debate. If no one agrees with me, obviously I was wrong to express this simple idea in this forum. My mistake, sorry. I won't bother you anymore...
PiVo
Been there...done that:( I am not exactly sure what this crowd is for.....I did get a kick out of the portion about those that make it and Bills comment about rich families.....something I have mentioned many times but always gets a shrug...The look on the faces was priceless. Bill for saying it, and Ryan that he did...
 

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