The Bonsai Society of Upstate New York celebrated their 50th anniversary by presenting a unique program to the members on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. The meeting was held in Buckland Lodge in Rochester, New York, where most of our members live, although we do have a good number of active members who regularly attend most meetings and support the organization from Buffalo, Syracuse and Ithaca, New York as well as Erie, Pennsylvania.
We wanted to present a special educational program unlike anything else we have had during the past 50 years. Current president Marc Arpag and long-time past presidents Harvey Carapella and Wm. N. Valavanis together presented demonstrations on Developing and Refining Bonsai. Additionally, each formally displayed one of their finest bonsai. The society rented white curtains with pipe and drape to create an appropriate atmosphere for the three exhibits. The skirting was dark red on the bottom and had a dark red valance on top of the eight-foot white curtains to visually lower the vast white space and coordinate with the bottom. Green and purple table coverings were used, with green on each end of the larger displays and purple in the middle for the smaller exhibit, thus providing additional colors and variety tastefully.
Each artist exhibited and demonstrated on one of their favorite species they are well known for. Marc used Eastern White Cedar, Harvey worked on Sargents Juniper and Bill used Japanese Maples to explain the difference between the developmental training and refining techniques. Bonsai were from their personal collections and each artist carefully and lovingly explained and showed key points. All questions were answered and discussed from the attentive members. They all demonstrated next to each other making comments on each other’s trees and work. This was NOT a “club demo” where a tree is quickly shaped to impress the audience. Each artist respects and admires each other’s trees and work well together. We even had “tip jars” next to each artist for our members and guests which were encouraged to insert folding money as the artists worked. This was NOT a competition or judging. It was fun and the society made a few hundred dollars for the treasury.
Member’s comments after the meeting were well received. “Wow the program was magical and 100% gold.” “All three displays individually were excellent, interesting, creative, tasteful, and were artistically representative of each artist AND together combined to what felt like a perfectly harmonious composition!” “The presentations were seamless, extremely educational, varied in subjects and informative and yet not repetitive at all!” This program was a fantastic way for the artists to pay tribute to the society they love and support and a wonderful gift to our loyal members. The unique program was enjoyable and educational. It will be difficult to top this program after the next 50 years….