On December 7-8, 2013 the first Bonsai Winter Silhouette Exhibition on the East Coast was held at the David H. Murdock Research Center in Kannapolis, North Carolina, just north of Charlotte. The elegant exhibition was hosted by Steve Zeisel, Director of the Nutrition Research Institute. The North Carolina Research Campus provided the venue which featured marble from the same quarry in Italy that Michelangelo used to carve his famous “David” in a unique four story rotunda crowned with a beautiful dome. This is the tallest dome south of Washington, D.C. The marble floor inlay with beautiful geometric forms and tall pillars, truly an elegant setting for bonsai featuring deciduous bonsai without foliage. Black curtains were used as backgrounds to highlight the light colored bark. The lighting was excellent, perhaps because of the highly polished light colored marble floors. The four story rotunda added another dimension to this bonsai exhibition which I have never experienced before, and I’ve seen quite a number of shows around the world.
Deciduous bonsai displayed during this season reveal the beauty of the tree with everything showing, so viewers can study and appreciate the beauty of buds, bark, form. There is no hiding of any flaws or wire scars, which is often not the case with evergreen bonsai. This shows how well the trees have been trained and have aged during the years.
The Research Center even rented a baby grand piano and had two young brothers playing classical Christmas tunes on the piano and violin. The delightful and cheerful music was much better than loud Japanese music which is common at bonsai exhibitions.
Thirty exhibitors and vendors brought some of their finest bonsai to share with others so they too could enjoy nature in miniature. Vendors brought a wide variety of plant material from young seedlings to well developed masterpiece bonsai in addition to stone and ceramic containers and supplies for the creation of bonsai. Just over 100 bonsai were displayed including two shohin bonsai compositions.
It would be very boring to see all deciduous species so a few evergreens were also included. On Saturday I presented a Maple Bonsai program to a standing room only audience. On Sunday Ed Lauer and Harold Johnson will demonstrate on a Sargent juniper.
Extensive publicity in the region drew over 300 visitors on Saturday to see the inaugural event, which I hope will develop into an annual affair. Both the public and experienced hobbyists attended on a cold day. The Bonsai Society of the Carolinas in the Charlotte area brought bonsai as did members from the Triangle Bonsai Society in Raleigh, a South Carolina study group, some from Virginia and the North Carolina Arboretum. Everyone came together to share the beauty of bonsai during the winter season.
Steve Zeisel coordinated and ran the well organized elegant event and is to be congratulated for undertaking such an important event for bonsai on the East Coast. I look forward to participating next year.