The successful 1st U.S. National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition was held on June 23-25, 2017 at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, North Carolina. This venue the home annual Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo held each December sponsored by Steve Zeisel.
The North Carolina Research Campus is a unique beautiful building with white marble walls and columns tied together with an unusual geometric floor. All the marble is from the same quarry in Italy that Michelangelo used to carve his famous “David” and is two inches thick. The highly polished floor and walls created a bright and regal atmosphere providing light so the bonsai can be appreciated. The four-story rotunda is the tallest south of Washington, DC. The views looking down to the bonsai exhibition were equally impressive.
Together with the cooperation of Steve Zeisel and building administrator Mark Spitzer and building manager Bob Damron the three day exhibition was beautifully staged and a perfect venue to feature bonsai. Last December at the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo Louise Leister from Florida approached me to organize an exhibition featuring shohin bonsai. After that event I traveled to China, then returning home for a knee replacement. So, basically this entire exhibition was organized in less than six months. Louise promised to help me, and she did searching for excellent workshop material, some imported from Japan, finding sponsors for the ten awards and contacting speakers from across the country. Additionally she brought her study group from Florida not only to help us set up the exhibition but also to help take down the exhibition, workshop room, lecture room and three vending areas.
Thirty exhibitors from Vermont, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee, Indiana and New York prepared, transported and displayed 191 shohin and small size bonsai. Each tree was a jewel and a bonsai in miniature size. A shohin bonsai composition is quite complicated when well executed to feature the beauty, direction, as well as providing a colorful pallet for the eye. Of course attempting to avoid the duplication of species, styles, container colors, shapes and display tables.
On Friday Suthin Sukosolvisit, Kathy Shaner, Michael Lebanik and John Romano each conducted a workshop for only eight participants. An opening reception featuring delicious goodies was held in the early evening before the programs began. In addition to the workshop instructors, Michael Ryan Bell, Mark Arpag, Sean Smith and myself presented ten lecture demonstrations. Twenty-two vendors brought their finest bonsai (all sizes), containers, pre-bonsai display tables, educational material as well as supplies for both the registrants and walk in public.
A Benefit Auction was held on Saturday evening BEFORE the Award Banquet, where the demonstration bonsai as well as other donated items were auctioned. The Award Banquet was concluded by 8:30 pm, a first for me. A surprise visit from “Sunshine” (Sunshine Asian Restaurant) came and carved images of the award winning bonsai on watermelons which drew quite a bit of interest.
Kathy Shaner, Suthin Sokolosovisit and myself judged the exhibition and conducted a group critique on Sunday morning.
Best Shohin Bonsai Composition Display
Melvyn Goldstein, Cleveland, Ohio
Best Bonsai Companion Combination
Gary Andes, Kingsport, Tennessee
Best Container & Tree Combination
Creighton Bostrom, Waxhaw, North Carolina
Best Tropical Bonsai
Michael Sullivan, Cooper City, Florida
Best Broadleaf Bonsai
Michael Lebanik, Davenport, Florida
Best Deciduous Bonsai
Shannon Salyer, Lenoir City, Tennessee
Best Evergreen Bonsai
Donald Kimball, Wilson, North Carolina
Best Mame Bonsai under 4”
Johnson Teh, Miami, Florida
Best in Show under 8”
Adair Martin, Clarksville, Georgia
Best in Show over 8”
Alan Adair, Canadice, New York
Unfortunately our professional photographer, Joe Noga was not able to physically attend the exhibition, but he did see each display as well as the critique via Facetime. He arranged for Sam Ogranaja, a professional photographer to capture the beauty of each display with his camera. Shohin bonsai are quite difficult to photograph well in multi-level box stands so the trees were not moved, but rather photographed as they were displayed. His beautiful photographs are included in this blog.
Because of the great success of the 1st U.S. National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition we have been invited back again by the North Carolina Research Campus for the next exhibition in June 2019. Next year the 6th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition will be held in Rochester, New York, on September 8-9, 2018 and it would be too much work, even for me, to organize two major exhibitions in a single year.
I’d like to thank the North Carolina Research Campus staff, speakers, exhibitors, vendors, helpers and especially my wife Diane and Louise Leister for all working together to present a distinctive exhibition featuring the diminutive beauty of shohin bonsai in order to promote and elevate this special group of bonsai.
If you can’t wait to see fine quality bonsai in this unique venue, kindly join us on December 2-3, 2017 for the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo. Additional information at: http://www.winterbonsai.net