Hi everyone. My name is Eric Newton. I have been involved in bonsai for 6 years now and am acting president of the Bonsai Society of Kalamazoo. I am also a member of the Ann Arbor Bonsai Society, the American Bonsai Society as well as a few on-line sites. First I would like to thank all of these wonderful organizations for helping to make the bonsai world what it is today!!!
I was fortunate enough to be selected to compete in the 2nd stage of the Joshua Roth New Talent Competition sponsored by Joshua Roth tools and the American Bonsai Society. This article is about my experience.
First a little about the contest. The competition is open to all members of the ABS who have been involved in bonsai for less than 10 years. 1st stage: Send pictures of at least 3 trees styled exclusively by you; more than one picture of each is preferred. This year the judges hand picked 8 people to compete in stage 2. 2nd stage: attend the ABS yearly “learning seminars” (this is required). Contestants are given an un-styled nursery plant and 8 hours to style the best bonsai possible. 4 of the attending masters judge the submissions and the people’s choice counts as one vote.
I entered the 1st stage of the competition back in 2005 but did not make the cut. I did not enter in 2006 because I knew that I did not have the money to attend the learning seminars. This year I was unsure if I would have the money to go but thought ah what the heck, I’ll send in my submission anyway. I really hate deadlines and this one snuck right up on me, so much so that I had to send my photos priority overnight! I am glad that I did though!!!
I did not take many pictures of my trees in 2006, at least not quality photos, as I was looking around for photos to submit I realized that I needed to take some new pictures. Next I realized that most all of my trees needed work to be ready to show. Out came the tools and wire. After several hours of detail wiring, pruning, weeding and cleaning I thought my selections were ready. I ended up picking 3 good trees that needed the least amount of work rather than trying to figure out which ones were best.
In addition to good photos I also needed to submit the history and Latin name for each entry. Since I am not nearly as organized as I should be; this sent me scrambling through old planner pages, old pictures and traversing the internet for the info. Although I enjoy going through my archives I like to do it a leisurely pace, not when trying to find things. I did however find some older photos of the trees to show their progression over the years.
The nice thing about submitting my packet so late is that I did not have to wait long to learn that I had been selected to compete! The deadline came and went and I did not hear anything; I assumed that I was not selected. I ended up shooting Harold (event coordinator) an e-mail and low and behold he responded with a “congratulations you have been selected to compete in stage 2!!!”
I had been in contact with Pauline Muth President of ABS regarding registration etc. She asked me if I might have any trees ready for display. I sent her some pics and she requested that I bring my Threadbranch Cypress (placed in the top thirty in the AOB USA vs. Europe photo contest)! This was a great honor to be asked to display one of my trees in a National show!!! I had already shown the tree at 2 art shows and the Michigan All State show so it took very little work to get it ready.
I do not have enough good things to say about the event. The local club and ABS did a great job with set-up and keeping everything watered. The seminars were very informative and the instructors did a great job!!! The food was delectable. The vendors were first class. The beach setting was awesome and I spent a lot of time walking around studying all the amazing windswept trees!
Thursday I arrived at the convention and was pleasantly surprised when I saw the quality of the stock selected for the competition!!! There were 8 beautiful junipers from Plant City Bonsai in Georgia. No complaints about the stock this year!!! The trees were numbered and each contestant picked a number out of the hat, grabbed their tree and got started. My tree had 3 great options; the trouble was deciding which one was the best! Although we were competing against each other you would never know it. Contestants were talking, sharing tools, giving complements and generally seemed more like old friends rather than competitors. In my experience you seldom see this kind of thing in competitions. Gotta love bonsai people!!!
I spent the morning pruning too long or useless branches, made several quick sketches to get a feel for the lines of my three choices. Once I made my choice of designs the rest of the morning was spend carving the deadwood. The sound of dancing dremels was like music to my ears. I will never forget the smell of that room; fresh cut juniper is one of the best smells in the world!!! After lunch I started wiring and finished about 1 hour before the deadline. Since I had some time left I borrowed some lime sulfur and acrylic paint to treat the deadwood. Unfortunately I did not get the mixture right and used way too much black. This ended up giving my deadwood a very strange look. One of the judges wrote that it reminded them of an elephant’s trunk! Oh well, it should look good with time.
I did have the option to buy my tree for the cost of the material. Although I loved my tree I have been learning the hard way about having too many trees to properly care for so I donated the tree to the ABS auction. I hope that who ever purchased the tree will keep me informed as to how it progresses over the years (if you read this please contact me).
I was very honored to tie for 2nd place and I want to congratulate all of the other competitors (it is an honor to be selected to compete and everyone did a great job on their trees)!!! I would like to thank all the organizations and volunteers that worked together to make this a success. And special thanks to the Infinite Invisible for showing me this art and guiding my hands!!!
The editorial staff at KoB would like to congradulate the winner of the 2007 Joshua Roth New Talent Bonsai Competition,Feliciano Jusay of Wytheville, VA as well as the other runner up, Scott Hurula of So. Milwaukee, WI.
We would also like to congratulate the following participants for taking the time and putting forth the effort to make this a exciting and educational compedition.
E. Patchogue, NY
In closing, we would like to add the following from Harold Johnson, the Competition Coordinator of the Joshua Roth New Talent Bonsai Competition:
Here is your chance to promote new bonsai talent from your area!
The New Talent Bonsai Competition that was first featured at the 2002 American Bonsai Society Symposium in Milwaukee is now an annual event and is sponsored by the Joshua Roth Company of Albany, Oregon. The competition is aimed at discovering and promoting new talent in the art of bonsai and is the first of its kind to be held in North America.
The concept of the Competition is simple.
Phase one consists of a panel of judges reviewing each applicant’s past work via photos submitted by the applicant, then selecting the most promising applicants to participate in phase two.
In the second phase participants will be given eight hours to create the very best bonsai they can produce from specially selected material.
The 2008 Competition will take place at the American Bonsai Society Learning Symposium in San Antonio, TX. After the participants have completed their work, four of the Symposium teachers will judge the bonsai that have been created. All full registrants at the Symposium will also have the opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice and will be combined with the teachers’ results to determine the best new bonsai talent of 2008. The results will be announced Saturday night at the banquet.
The Grand Prize for the winner of the Joshua Roth New Talent Bonsai Competition is a round trip airline ticket to Japan. The ticket can be used to visit the Kokufu-ten exhibit or it can be used to spend time studying with a Japanese Master. The winning artist will also be profiled in the Journal of the American Bonsai Society under the title of the “Best New Bonsai Talent of 2008.” The Competition is a wonderful opportunity for a person to be recognized as an outstanding new bonsai talent.
A copy of the application can be found on the ABS website. Please promote the Competition to all members with fewer than ten years’ experience in bonsai.
For additional information about the 2008 American Bonsai Society Learning Symposium visit the ABS website – http://www.absbonsai.org.