The Pacific Bonsai Expo– An Exhibition of Extraordinary Bonsai is being sponsored by Eric Schrader and Jonas Dupuich.
People patiently waited outside for over an hour before the doors opened. When the exhibition opened at 9:00 AM, hordes of buying customers descended on the sales area. I believe attendance was limited to just over 800 daily because of fire safety regulations. All the tickets were sold out early, but a few day tickets were available.
Three professional bonsai artists, Bjorn Bjorholm, Ryan Neil and William N. Valavanis selected all the bonsai for the exhibition. Over 250 submissions from across the United States, mostly from western states. The judges were instructed to select the best bonsai, but keeping in mind to design an entire exhibition with trees of different species, styles and sizes. Only 73 displays of bonsai were displayed because of limited space and in order to present the bonsai in a clean area with without distractions and being crowded. Actually, there were 98 individual bonsai shown counting the individual shohin bonsai and medium size displays. Each bonsai and shohin bonsai composition were allowed one six-foot table for display.
As the exhibitors arrived all day on Friday and Saturday morning, each tree was given a final inspection for moss arrangement, branch positions, because often they are changed when transporting. The display tables were polished, again, containers cleaned and polished to perfection. The companion plantings were adjusted as well as were the displays. Once completed well-known professional photographer, David Fenton, photographed each tree. The artists were encouraged to check the final images on a large size monitor.
After photographing, each bonsai went to a preassigned area. Generally, all the trees were displayed by size: large, huge, medium size trees and shohin bonsai compositions. Also, the trees were positioned alternating with evergreen and deciduous species, as well as height for interest.
Each photographed bonsai and display will be in the forthcoming commemorative album which can be ordered at: www.pacificbonsaiexpo.com/products/pacific-bonsai-expo-commemorative-album-pre-order.
On late Friday afternoon, after everything was set up, the 45 exhibitors who are showing 73 bonsai display areas judged the exhibition before the event opened to the public. They were given judging sheets to assign evaluation numbers for determining the prize-winning trees. I was so pleased there was not going to be a “People’s Choice Award” because frankly speaking, the public does not even know what they are looking at. They will always select a colorful flowering tree or a forest, rock planting or tray landscape. So, at the Pacific Bonsai Expo the actual exhibitors, who I respect and know bonsai, can make educated evaluations.
At the Saturday evening Award Banquet, the winners were announced. Randy Knight’s huge Ponderosa pine he collected and styled by Ryan Neil, won the Best of Show Award. Congratulations Randy, well deserved!
The vendor area, by invitation only, included 27 vendors from four states. These vendors are some of the finest vendors in the United States. They brought fine quality bonsai, pre-bonsai, containers, tools collected trees, clothing, jewelry copper wire, display tables and more.
Bonsai conventions, symposia, shows and other events have been common in the United States for about 60 years. I know, because I had to skip my high school graduation in 1969 to attend an ABS Symposium in Philadelphia, PA. All of these displays and conferences have been organized, sponsored and run by non-profit bonsai clubs, societies and organizations. It seems to me, personally, that the best organized and educational, events are now being privately sponsored such as the Pacific Bonsai Expo, Artisans’ Cup, Brussel’s Rendezvous, Winter Silhouette Expo and the US National Bonsai Exhibition. A professional privately sponsored, well organized event, puts the individual’s reputation and livelihood on the line.
Now that the successful Pacific Bonsai Expo has finished, I feel it is important to once again thank Eric Schrader (Bonsai LLC) and Jonas Dupuich (Bonsai Tonight LLC). This joint project was made possible by the generous support from the bonsai community. Not many people can say that authoritatively, I have sponsored seven US National Bonsai Exhibitions and 30 symposia with my friends in, New York. I truly look forward to working with the Pacific Bonsai Expo for many years to Rochester come to raise the level of bonsai and unify bonsai in our great United States.