This is the 24thyear I have been selected to display and sell bonsai in the Park Ave Art Festival. My Monday Senior Crew and I create indoor bonsai for the public to introduce them to the art. Easy to maintain sub tropical species are used so they have good luck keeping their new bonsai alive. Each bonsai is pruned, shaped, wired, wired into the container and even mossed. But, the main purpose of participating is to gather new students for my Introductory Classical Bonsai Art Courses. This year we promoted the upcoming US National Bonsai Exhibition too.
The Park Ave Art Festival is one of the largest festivals in Rochester, New York, renowned for its architecture, culture and hip urban atmosphere. Over one mile of Park Avenue is closed to vehicles and transformed one weekend a year into a one-of –a-kind shopping Mecca filled with original creations from more than 350 artists, craftspeople and exhibitors from the United States and Canada. Additionally, delicious food and entertainment on four stages runs throughout the weekend.
This is often one of the hottest weekends of the year, and it was no exception this year. Around 2pm clouds and thunder moved in and we experienced a torrential downpour for about 30 minutes. All visitors in the streets immediately scattered to find shelter, and our tent was soon overflowing with visitors. I announced that everyone must buy a bonsai…. it did not work. But, that’s a good way to get people to see bonsai up close and ask questions.
Rick Marriott, Alan Adair and Diane were the main sales people as I quietly worked on a Nippon Daisy bonsai preparing it for display in the soon upcoming US National Bonsai Exhibition. This bonsai was a cutting originating from Toshiji Yoshimura, Yuji Yoshimura’s father, probably around 1950. It has a magnificent trunk and we have developed small foliage this season. To bad it will not be in blossom next month.
I’m fortunate to have our sales tent in front of Northfield Designer Goldsmiths, the studio of Master goldsmith Gudmund Jos Olsson. Originally from Sweden with degrees from several universities he continued his silversmithing at the Rochester Institute of Technology. His approach to jewelry design is to study the hand or wrist so his jewelry flows comfortably with the natural lines. Everything sold in Northfield Goldsmiths is designed and hand crafted by Gudmund.
Gudmund next to a Scots pine he collected and trained. I’ll help him thin out the top this autumn.
A common Silver maple with an interesting trunk
He has a strong interest in Oriental art forms and philosophies and has found them to be very compatible with the Scandinavian mentality, as they are similar in their naturally functional, down to earth practical way of thinking. His simple asymmetrical jewelry shapes blends well with accents that suggest Oriental influence.
A clear head keeps the chipmunks away from his bonsai
Gudmund began studying bonsai with me over 20 years ago and a few years back helped me one day a week to increase his bonsai techniques. His studio building, an historic 1890 home is a landmark and he is quite limited to what he can do to the exterior. It was difficult to get permission to create a small Japanese garden for his bonsai.
Euonymus forest in an old discarded satellite dish
Being an artistic designer, Gudmund enjoys repurposing items and collecting common plants for bonsai and has fun. He has created a most unusual eclectic collection of bonsai and viewing stones, according to his own style. All bonsai do not need to be classical in design. THE most important element is that one enjoys their bonsai. And, Gudmund does. Being a goldsmith, Gudmund even repairs broken and cracked special bonsai containers with solid gold. He has even molded sections of containers missing pieces with gold.
Occasionally, I will lead friends and students into Gudmund’s garden to see what new bonsai he has created. It’s a small area with not much room to move around.
The Park Ave Art Festival draws thousands of people, including many interesting individuals with colored hair, piercings and clothing, or minimal revealing clothing. The festival is family friendly, no pets, drinking or parties are officially allowed. Numerous dogs, cats, birds and reptiles are however, commonly seen. A lady brought one of her colorful chameleons to share with others and I had the opportunity to hold it. The chameleon jumped into one of my Schefflera bonsai, but we were able to get it out before he became too comfortable.
Towards the afternoon Gudmund presented me with three handcrafted tiny bonsai containers. The sterling silver containers have patina, multiple drainage holes and are even signed by Gudmund. Now I’m looking for plants small enough to live in the diminutive special containers.
Tomorrow, Sunday, the last day of the weekend festival will surely bring new surprises, experiences, food and more interesting people to watch, plus selling bonsai of course.