Valavanis Bonsai Blog

2019 2ndUS National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition

The 2019 2ndUS National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition was held on June 28-30, 2019 at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, North Carolina. The unique domed four story venue covered with marble was also home to the 2017 1stUS National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition and six Winter Silhouette Bonsai Expos held during the first weekend in December sponsored by Steve Zeisel. I’ve never seen such a beautiful refined display area for bonsai, and I’ve seen numerous exhibitions throughout the world. The light colored imported marble from Italy is bright and each bonsai could be easily studied. No need for additional lighting.


The compressed beauty of small size bonsai was featured in the three day event including eight workshops, eleven lecture/demonstrations, a critique, benefit auction and the exhibition featuring 140 individual bonsai. They were displayed by 29 people from Puerto Rico, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and New York. All of the beautiful shohin and small size bonsai were formally displayed alone, in three point, five point and seven point displays. In addition to a wide variety of species and cultivars it was amazing to see the high quality display tables as well. This type of display is not often seen, except for the US National Bonsai Exhibitions in Rochester, New York. Attention to detail and the love the artists put into presenting their small bonsai and displays is truly shines for the visitors. Additionally three rooms were filled to capacity with vendors offering everything from nursery stock, companion plants, pre-bonsai, established bonsai, soil, tools, supplies, books, suiseki, display tables and containers.













Eight workshops were conducted by skilled artists using Sargent juniper, Dwarf yaupon holly, Chinzan satsuki azalea, Dwarf black olive, Japanese red and black pine as well as a carving workshop creating root stands.


Ten prominent award winning bonsai artists from Japan, England, Puerto Rico and the United States presented lecture/demonstrations, conducted eight workshops and a critique.

Minoru Akiyama, Japan



Peter Warren, England



Marc Arpag, New York




Michael Ryan Bell, Mississippi




Mark Fields, Indiana


Michael Lebanik, Florida



Carlos A. Morales, Puerto Rico



David Paris, New York



Sean Smith, Pennsylvania



The judges, Minoru Akiyama from Japan, Peter Warren from England and Wm. N. Valavanis took considerable time to select the award winning bonsai and displays, it was a difficult job. They also conducted a 90 minute free educational critique open to the public.

Awards Presented

Best Overall Bonsai

Adair Martin



Best Shohin Bonsai Under 8 Inches

Mel Goldstein



Best Small Bonsai Over 8 Inches

Mark Fields



Best Mame Bonsai Under 5 Inches

Louise Leister


Best Tropical Bonsai

Michael & Lunetta Knowlton


Best Shohin Bonsai Composition

Shannon Salyer



Best Narrow Leaf Evergreen Bonsai

Troy Schmidt



Best Broadleaf Evergreen Bonsai

Judy Barto



Best Deciduous Bonsai

Gary Andes



Best Bonsai Companion Combination

Mike Rogers


Best North American Species

Johnson The



Most Unique Bonsai Display

Marc Arpag



Additionally, the American Bonsai Society presented an award for the best native species to Marc Arpag.



All of the bonsai created during the educational lecture/demonstrations were in the Saturday Benefit Auction as well as unique items donated by generous vendors and friends. Proceeds were used to pay for the expenses. There was no admission fee and hundreds of local and long distance visitors enjoyed the exhibition and shopping in the vendor areas. There was a registration fee to learn from the bonsai artists. Generous sponsors and donors contributed to the great success of the event. One sponsor took the opportunity to officially introduce their new Mini Green-T Turntables designed specifically for shohin and small bonsai in the United States. Most of the demonstrators, when possible, used the new Mini Green-T Turntables during their programs.

The tremendous success of the 2019 2ndUS National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition is due to the North Carolina Research Campus staff hosting the event and the skilled speakers, non stop volunteers setting up and taking down the exhibition, vendors, sponsors and donors. Everyone enjoyed the well organized event and look forward to the 2021 3rdUS National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition at the same venue in June 2021.

Formal photos by Sam Ogranaja

Award photos by Judy Barto