This year’s edition of the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo at the David H. Murdock North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, North Carolina, was the best edition of this exhibition. Held on December 2-3, 2017 in an elegant marble enclosed four story atrium, the event drew many more visitors from across the east coast. Although the venue was the same as in the past, with careful planning and layout there were more vendors, demonstrations and exhibitors than in past years. More importantly, the quality of each bonsai improved. This event is sponsored by Steve Zeisel, a bonsai hobbyist from Raleigh, North Carolina, who is also the current president of the Triangle Bonsai Society. The North Carolina Research Campus supports the event to help Steve achieve his goal.
Sponsor Steve Zeisel hosts the expo, to improve the quality of bonsai in the region and attract the public to enjoy the art. He does not do this to make money, as he usually loses funds and time from his busy nutritional research position and travels. He simply does this for his love of bonsai. There is no entrance fee for the public, nor for the vendors as well. Each year the expo grows in size which is a good indication of the interest in bonsai and that Steve is doing something right.
There are no restrictions or entrance fees for exhibitors. They simply sign up for an eight or six foot display table and are responsible to present an interesting exhibit. Although this is officially a winter silhouette bonsai exhibition several evergreens and tropical bonsai are displayed, but most are deciduous specieds where the true beauty of naked bonsai can be appreciated. Creativity is always encouraged and this year many more “creative” exhibits were shown. Some actually looked like dioramas rather than proper bonsai displays, but each featured bonsai. The public seemed to enjoy all the displays which were usually crowded with visitors and shoppers. A few bonsai with colorful fruit were very popular as were a couple of bonsai still in full autumn coloring.
The Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo lecture/demonstrations were presented by Rodney Clemons (Georgia), Sean Smith (Pennsylvania), Tyler Sherrod (North Carolina), Owen Reich (Tennessee) and William N. Valavanis (New York) who also judged the show and presented an educational constructive critique of the bonsai and displays.
Two and a half rooms were filled with vendors from across the east coast offering bonsai, pre-bonsai, containers, supplies, suiseki, display tables, hanging scrolls and more. There was something for everyone from basic pre-bonsai for beginners vend to masterpieces and antique Chinese containers for advanced hobbyists and collectors. There is no vendor fee, however each vendor donates something for the Saturday auction, which is a fun event and to help raise funds to assist with the exhibition expenses.
I’ve attended and participated in numerous bonsai events around the world, this year alone over twelve, and the North Carolina Research Campus is the most elegant beautiful venue I’ve seen, truly. I always enjoy displaying and supporting this worthwhile and important event for bonsai in the United States and look forward to next year’s Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo during the first weakened in December in 2018. Enjoy my bonsai display photos of the event and look for the high quality professional photos by Joe Noga bin a future issue of International BONSAI magazine.