The successful 2014 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition has come, gone and is now a pleasant memory. Bonsai from around our great country were displayed next to each other showing viewers the diversity of forms and plant material trained for bonsai as well as the high level of refinement we have developed during the past seventy odd years the art has been practiced in the United States.
The “Crew” beginning the set up on Wednesday
The resounding success of the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition is due to the long hours of hard work of my “crew”, a dedicated group of bonsai hobbyists who want to see the art of bonsai flourish in the United States. In addition to set up and take down, many days were spent preparing, sewing, ironing and fabric cutting. New folding backgrounds were designed, constructed and painted (twice) for the Invitational Suiseki Exhibition and over 100 wooden posts were re stained. A beautiful welcome garden greeted visitors and featured the logo bonsai of Chinese quince, full of large fruit.
Our new venue, the Total Sports Experience, also served as a spectacular, spacious and clean environment to showcase some of the finest bonsai in our country. The new55,000 square foot building consisted of two full size soccer fields, a community room for hospitality and a wide concourse between the two fields. The padded green artificial grass was a welcome treat to our feet for those of us who stood for five days setting up, answering questions and taking down the Exhibition. The green coloring had a calming and quiet feeling. The tall ceiling and wide open area with tables and chairs offered a friendly location to meet with fellow bonsai hobbyists to discuss the bonsai on display. The wide aisles allowed visitors to easily see and study the bonsai. The wide and open areas wewre appreciated by everyone.
Hiroyoshi Yamaji being interviewed for TV broadcast all day on Saturday and Sunday
The publicity committee of Ron and JoAnn Maggio worked their magic to get appearances on all four Rochester TV channels. The “Get Away Guy” on Channel 9 filmed a short segment while we set up the exhibition and was broadcast all day on Saturday and Sunday. At the Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Ron Maggio read proclamations from New York State Governor Cuomo, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks and Mayor Lovely of Rochester proclaiming National Bonsai Exhibition Day in New York State. This outstanding publicity, plus print coverage brought in the public as well as bonsai hobbyists. The 400 car parking lot was completely filled on Saturday and by Sunday nearly 1,000 people enjoyed the Exhibition. Our vendors were very happy.
Valued volunteers and crew moments before the ribbon cutting ceremony
Ribbon cutting opening ceremony
Visitors waiting to enter the exhibition
Equally important to the success of the event was created by the 107 exhibitors from 27 states: California to Virginia and from Florida to Vermont. Plus, we had three special exhibitor groups from two provinces of Canada. The leading botanical gardens and arboreta with significant bonsai collections in the United States also brought trees for special exhibits. One of the earliest bonsai to enter the Untied States in 1935 was on display, which was started from a cutting taken in 1802.
One of the historic Dwarf hinoki cypress bonsai being moved to a taller display table for better appreciation
The cascade bonsai on the left was originally a branch on the larger Dwarf hinoki cypress on the right. This special exhibit came from the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, MA
Exhibitors spent decades training their best bonsai for the exhibition and a lot of time refining and preparing for their formal display. This was quite evident in the 175 display areas. In total there were 320 individual bonsai, including 40 shohin bonsai compositions with 120 small size bonsai. Over 125 species and plant cultivars were displayed which is representative of the trees trained for bonsai in our country.
Photos of over 260 bonsai were submitted for the selection process and 180 were accepted. A few dropped out at the last minute because of weather damage or transportation difficulties. Since bonsai are alive and subject to weather this is to be expected. We still needed to add nine more tables at the end of set up. It’s a good thing we have extra backgrounds, skirting as well as table covering. But, we still needed to purchase additional table coverings of a different color during the set up.
Equally important and of the same size as the Exhibition, the vendor area had more than 100 tables full of everything you could ever want to create and appreciate bonsai. There were seedlings to developed masterpiece bonsai, tools, wire, soil, containers, display tables, suiseki, scrolls, books, magazines, jewelry, clothing, other art and more. There was something for everyone. Vendors came from California, Florida, Vermont, Minnesota, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York as well as Canada came to offer their finest for sale.
Hiroyoshi Yamaji demonstrates bonsai creation from nursery stock
Peter Warren demonstrated how to refine an established bonsai
Dr. Alice Chen demonstrated Chinese brush painting
Sean Smith lectured on suiseki
The lecture/demonstration on creating a bonsai, bonsai refinement, ikebana, Chinese brush painting and suiseki were well received and there was standing room only. After setting up the demonstration area on Thursday I called and ordered another 100 chairs for visitors. Harvey Carapella did not thing they would be filled, however there was standing room only for Hiroyoshi Yamaji’s dynamic demonstration on bonsai creation.
Larry Ragel brought one of his suiseki from California
Nina Ragel displayed her suiseki
For the first time we had an Invitational Suiseki Exhibition were the stones were formally displayed with accessories and bonsai as well. Stones from the United States, Africa, China, Greece, Puerto Rico and Australia were displayed. Fifty suiseki were displayed by 29 exhibitors. The public, as well as the bonsai visitors found the addition of suiseki of interest and will be included in 2016.
I was especially honored that Japanese dignitaries traveled to the Untied States to see our U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. Jiro Fukuda, Chairman of the Nippon Bonsai Association and Chairman of the World Bonsai Friendship Federation together with Mrs. Naemi Iwasaki, Vice-chairman of WBFF and Hatsuji Kato an advisor to WBFF came. They were accompanied with Yuji Tamura, editor of Bonsai Shunjyu magazine and their lovely translator Keiko Matsunaga. At the Award Banquet and Benefit Auction Mr. Fukuda presented the Nippon Bonsai Association Award to Brussel Martin for his beautiful Japanese Black pine as the “finest Japanese style bonsai display.” Mr. Fukuda also spoke about the importance of bonsai displays said the Japanese group came expecting to see beautiful bonsai but were surprised to see outstanding bonsai. He invited everyone to the 8th World Bonsai Convention in Saitama City, Japan which will be held in 2017.
David Easterbrook from Canada judging a bonsai
Hiroyoshi Yamaji evaluating a Pitch pine bonsai
Peter Warren from England inspecting the ramification of a Mugho pine bonsai
Judges in the Judges Chamber deciding the winning bonsai
The three international judges, Hiroyoshi Yamaji from Japan, Peter Warren from England and David Easterbrook from Canada spent a couple of hours selecting the award winning bonsai. Many of the decisions were difficult because of the high quality, but Suthin Sukolosovist’s American elm was clearly the winner for the National Award for the “finest bonsai.”
2014 US NATIONAL BONSAI EXHIBITION AWARDS
Medium Size Bonsai Award
Finest Medium Size Bonsai
Nippon Bonsai Association Award
Finest Japanese Style Display
Japanese Black Pine
Puerto Rico Bonsai Federation Award
Finest Tropical Bonsai
Willow Leaf Fig
Custom Oriental Woodcraft Award– Bonsai Display Tables
Finest Shohin Bonsai Display
Ho Yoku Award
Finest Innovative Bonsai Design
Bonsai Travel Award
Finest Bonsai & Companion Combination
Finest Classical Bonsai
Japanese Black Pine
ABS North American Award
Finest North American Native Species Bonsai
Rocky Mountain Juniper
All American Award
Finest American Species in an American Container shown on an American Display Table
Deciduous Bonsai Award
Finest Deciduous Bonsai
Sharps Pygmy Japanese Maple
Evergreen Bonsai Award
Finest Evergreen Bonsai
The National Award
Finest Bonsai Masterpiece
David Easterbrook giving a tour in French to Canadian visitors
At the Award Banquet and Benefit Auction two special awards were presented. A Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Hideko Metaxas from Larkspur, California, for her leadership, promotion, education & artistry of bonsai, suiseki and ikebana. Kathy Shaner from San Jose, California was presented a Certificate of Recognition for her enthusiastic teaching, promotion & sharing of bonsai artistry- skill-knowledge. Finally the valued volunteers were recognized before the exhibition awards were presented to the winners. At the conclusion of the evening the Benefit Auction was held with Gordon Deeg as the master auctioneer. Vendors and friends donated many items for the auction to help cover the exhibition costs.
The U.S. National Bonsai Exhibitions are good for the economy of the bonsai business in the United States. Businesses offering display tables, hand made containers, wire for refinement as well as professional bonsai artists preparing tree for display all made money before the actual exhibition. Our generous sponsors and vendors provided the funds to subside transporting the trees from long distances as well as preparing an excellent venue with display backgrounds.
The photos include here were taken by me. Joe Noga and his helpers worked for three and a half days photographing every bonsai in the Exhibition. These professional, sharp and color perfect photographs will be used for the Commemorative Album which can now be pre ordered at an attractive discount until December. Every bonsai in the Exhibition will appear in the Commemorative Album as well as general views.
Pre order your copy of the Commemorative Album at:
I’d like to thank my valued volunteers, crew, exhibitors, sponsors, vendors, visitors and especially my family, Diane, Nicholas and Chris for making the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition a success!
The 5th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition will be held on September 17-18, 2016. Start preparing your bonsai now. I look forward to welcoming everyone.