The 6th Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo was held on December 1-2, 2018 at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, North Carolina. This unique venue is an elegant building, marble lined with a four story atrium, the tallest south of Washington, DC, even taller than the state capital of Georgia. All six of these events have been sponsored and well organized by Steve Zeisel who wants to promote bonsai in the region. Everything is free, admission, bonsai entries and even the vendor fees. He only tries to break even with the event, and he does with the generous donations from the vendors and friends during a benefit auction.
I’ve been fortunate and honored to participate in all six of the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expos and have carefully studied all the bonsai, especially since I’ve been the judge for all of the shows. Each year the quality of the individual bonsai increases, but this year there was a tremendous leap ahead of all past shows. It was wonderful to see so much effort and creativity also put into the individual displays. None of the displays just included a lonely bonsai. They had accessories, companion plantings, other art, paintings, prints, scrolls and even a rusty old heater and bricks.
In fact, Steve added another award for the best display which was won by Tyler Sherrod with a Vine maple bonsai accompanied with a hanging scroll and small garden lantern.
Although this is a “Winter Silhouette” exhibition, evergreens as well as fruiting and deciduous bonsai were tastefully displayed. Some of the evergreen bonsai were in their winter color which added another dimension to the show. It would be very boring to see only deciduous bonsai. There were approximately 70 bonsai on display from throughout the southeast, Pennsylvania and New York. Each was a treasured gem of the exhibitor and meticulously prepared for show, just like in Japan.
There were four Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo lecture/demonstrations presented by Rodney Clemons (Georgia), Tyler Sherrod (North Carolina) assisted by Matt Reel, Owen Reich (Tennessee) and William N. Valavanis (New York) assisted by Sean Smith who also judged the show and presented an educational constructive critique of the bonsai and displays. Three rooms were filled to capacity with vendors offering anything you could imagine for bonsai creation and appreciation.
I’ve attended and participated in numerous bonsai events around the world, and the North Carolina Research Campus is the most elegant and beautiful venue I’ve seen, truly. I always enjoy displaying and supporting this worthwhile and important event for bonsai in the United States featuring bonsai in their naked glory. I personally think the Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo is rapidly becoming an American version of the famous Japanese Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition held in Ueno Park, Tokyo,Japan.
I look forward to next year’s Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expo on December 7-8, 2019. Enjoy my bonsai display photos of the event and the beautiful professional photos by Joe Noga. Additional high quality portrait photos will appear in a future issue of International BONSAI magazine.
If you can’t wait to see this beautiful venue, join us in June for the 2019 2ndUS National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition.