Winter Tokonoma 2014

Happy New Year! For the first post of 2014 I wanted to showcase the current display in our tokonoma.

For this display I wanted to try and use some objects that are not my immediate choices for a winter themed arrangement. This would not only show off more of the Museum’s collection but also challenge me to be more creative with them.

From the start I knew I wanted to use a scroll we have of a white hawk on a pine branch.

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The scroll makes me think of a remote snowy mountain where this white hawk remains vigilant through the falling snow.

The second object I wanted to use is one of my favorite stones at the Museum because of its name. 30,000 Foot White Beard is the name of this figure stone donated by John Naka. The stone’s name comes from a white strip of minerals running down this otherwise black  figure stone which John envisioned as a very long flowing beard.

The white “beard” reinforces the feeling of winter as its shape also reminds me of an hanging icicle or perhaps a frozen waterfall on a distant peak.

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John collected the stone from the Kern River in Northern California and I assume the daiza was made by himself and that he collected it in 1966 as both his name, the year 1966, and the date 10-29-66 appear on the bottom of the daiza.

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The biggest challenge I encountered was finding a stand that would work within the display. Like picking a bonsai pot you never have enough options and none are ever perfect. I wanted the stone to be elevated enough to be properly viewed and to further enhance its verticality. I also needed the stand to be limited in it’s width so that stone was not visually lost when placed on it.

The first few stands were more traditional in style but weren’t the right size. I then pulled out a stand that seldom gets used here as it has a very narrow range of objects it would work with. However, once I put the stone on it I knew this was the one. Its size was the closest to what I wanted but more importantly it turned a static display into a story I could imagine.

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Now, the display became more than just a stone on a stand but a white bearded man walking over a bridge among snow covered trees being watched by a white hawk.

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Takahashi Shotei, “Bridge in the Snow” ca. 1910

The addition of a winter grass in a cream colored pot completed the setting as I could hear the cold wind rustling their dried stalks.

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Haiku by Matuso Basho

First snow
Falling
On the half-finished bridge

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Hope you enjoyed the display. Thanks for reading and for accompanying  me for walk in the snow.

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Hamano, “Evening Snow at Edo River”1932

I am also very excited to say that I will be making my first trip to Japan next week. I will be studying at the historic Daiju-en nursery for 3 weeks in conjunction with the upcoming Kokufu-ten exhibition. I look forward to sharing my experience here and will be also be posting pictures to my Instagram feed @capitalbonsai

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2009 Golden State Bonsai Convention Show

In conjunction with my last post about Peter Adams at the GSBF convention in 2009,  I wanted to share these photos I took of the bonsai on exhibit . Please forgive some of the blurry photos, when I took these 4 years ago, I didn’t expect to be posting them online. Also I normally attribute the owner but again I failed to capture that info. Enjoy.

IMG_4145California Juniper

IMG_4146California Live Oak

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There were also a number of viewing stones on display.

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Brazilian Pepper

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Olive

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Viewing stone, most likely from the Eel River.

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California Juniper

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Chinese Elm

IMG_4156Eleagnus

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Chinese Juniper

IMG_4159California Juniper

IMG_4160Olive

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Redwood

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Japanese Black Pine

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Boxwood

IMG_4164California Juniper

IMG_4166Twisted Pomegranate

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California Juniper

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Shari detail

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San Jose Juniper

IMG_4174Virginia Creeper

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Sierra Juniper

IMG_4176California Juniper

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Dead wood detail

Falling into Winter, part 2

As the trees on exhibit move past their peak fall color we replace them with trees that are just beginning to shine. Here are the new additions as well as a few from the first post that look better than they first did.

IMG_9815Trident Maple, Donated by Stanley Chin, Age Unknown

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IMG_9818Closeup of netsuke

IMG_9819Japanese Maple, Donated by Shintaro Abe, In training since 1946.

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Red Maple, Acer rubrum var. Drummondii, Donated by Vaughn Banting, In training since 1974.

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Cedar Elm, Ulmus crassifolia, Donated by Arch Hawkins, In training since 1981.

IMG_9822Close-up of trunks and branch structure.

IMG_9823Bald Cypress, Donated by Vaughn Banting, In training since 1972.

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Ginkgo biloba, Donated by Masayuki Fujio, In training since 1896.

IMG_9829Japanese Privet, Ligustrum obtusifolium, Donated by Seiko Koizumi, In training since 1968.

IMG_9826Trident Maple, Donated by Ted Guyer, In training since 1975.

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Japanese Maple, Donated by Ryutaro Azuma, In training since 1906.

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Liquidambar, Donated by Vaughn Banting, In training since 1975. The photo doesn’t do the tree justice regarding its actual color. Its almost a neon red. When you see it in person the tree seems like it is glowing.

IMG_9833Close-up of fall leaves.

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Golden Larch, Pseudolarix amabilis, Donated by Shu-ling Lui, In training since 1971.

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Thanks for reading. I will be posting the final installment of this years fall exhibit next week. This coming weekend will be your last opportunity to see this special Fall Exhibit, so if you live in or near DC stop by the Museum and enjoy the trees before all the leaves are gone.

Falling into Winter, Autumn Bonsai Exhibition 2013

IMG_9747Thankfully things in Washington got sorted out in time for our annual fall exhibition. The exhibit runs from October 26 – November 10. Trees will be rotated in and out as they come into peak color and I will post addition pictures as we change them.

IMG_9712Bradford Pear, Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’, In training since 1976, Styled by the first curator Bob Drechsler.

IMG_9713Three point display: Pomegranate bonsai, scroll with gourd and calligraphy, and contorted mondo grass.

IMG_9714 Pomegranate, Punica granatum, In training since 1963, Donated by Alice Naka.

IMG_9715 Contorted mondo grass, Ophiopogon chingii.

IMG_9717Trident Maple, Acer buergerianum, Age unknown, Donated by Stanley Chin.

IMG_9719 English Hawthorn, Crataegus oxycantha,  In training since 1955, Donated by Bertra Bruenner.

IMG_9720 Close-up of trunk and fruit.

IMG_9721 Three point display: Crabapple bonsai, scroll of Mt. Fuji and rising sun, and Japanese forest grass accent.

IMG_9722 Toringo Crabapple, Malus seiboldii ‘Toringo’, In training since 1905, Donated by Shyuichi Ueda.

IMG_9723 Japanese forest grass, Hakonechloa macra.

IMG_9724 Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum, In training since 1906, Donated by Ryutaro Azuma.

IMG_9725 Close-up of trunk and nebari.

IMG_9726 Chinese Elm, Ulmus parvifolia, In training since 1906, Donated by Yee-sun Wu.

IMG_9727 Close-up of hollow trunk .

IMG_9728 Three point display: Gingko bonsai, viewing stone, and sedum.

IMG_9729 Indian Blanket Stone donated by Melba Tucker, and sedum.

IMG_9730 Three point display: Sweet Gum bonsai, scroll with bird and nandina, and Japanese bloodgrass.

IMG_9731 Sweet Gum, Liquidambar styraciflua, In training since 1975, Donated by Vaugh Banting.

IMG_9732 Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica, pot by Sharon Edwards-Russell.

IMG_9733 Chrysanthemum Stone, Donated by Kemin Hu.

IMG_9734 Detail of chrysanthemum.

IMG_9735 Star magnolia, Magnolia stellata, In training since 1986 , Donated by Kazuo Moriyama.

Tokonoma Display Summer 2013

I’ve been told that a good tokonoma display creates an setting through which the viewer can be transported to a specific place in time. The objects being displayed must work together to create a unified theme centered around a specific season.

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“Dragonfly & River Mollusk” by Rabani, Accessed 9/21/13, http://rabani.buzznet.com/photos/default/?id=1696507

Two of my favorite elements of summer, water and dragonflies, encapsulate the mix of activity and rest, stillness and movement experienced during the summer.  From the small pond in my parents backyard that was visited each summer by a fiery red dragonfly, to the matchstick thin damselflies that inhabit the stream I take my own son too; the dragonfly symbolizes summer almost as much as its aquatic habitat.

IMG_9640With that said it should be no surprise that I really liked this display. The main object in a very large (6 x 29.5 x 16.75), and may I add heavy, puddle stone (mitsumari-ishi) collected from the Saji river in Japan and donated by Teichii Katayama.

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I have seen puddle stones displayed both with and without water. When they contain water they are almost always placed in a suiban with sand rather than in a wooden daiza. Some also like to not only fill the reservoirs with water but wet the entire stone. As the water dries the color of the stone changes and I think this helps bring some life to an other wise inanimate object.

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Side view showing several puddles.

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What do you see, a mountain lake or a natural bird bath?

IMG_9633Alternate side view

IMG_9628In contrast to the heavy wet stone is a scroll depicting 3 light and airy dragonflies hovering above the water.

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The signature on the scroll reads Shoshen. I was unable to find any information about the artist and would welcome it if you know something about him.

Dragonfly & Autumn leaves, Lightsnow photography, http://lightsnowphotography.photoshelter.com/image/I0000hV12d_wsJWQ ,accessed 9/30/13

Dragonfly & Autumn leaves, Lightsnow photography, accessed 9/30/13

http://lightsnowphotography.photoshelter.com/image/I0000hV12d_wsJWQ

Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to my favorite season and a new Autumn display.

Autumn Tokonoma Display

The first tokonoma display of fall is traditional three point display made up of a stone, a scroll, and an accent plant. A typical three point display contains a primary element  that holds the visual weight of the space. This is typically a bonsai or viewing stone but can also be a scroll. The second element has less visual weight and can also be a bonsai, stone, or scroll.
The third component can be an accent plant, small stone or some decorative art object like an okimono.

The primary element in this display is a Chrysanthemum stone from Sado Island donated by Ralph Johnson.This close-up view of the stone shows the various mineral deposits within the stones matrix.

The second element is a scroll depicting a moon with falling maple leaves, possibly from the tree in the summer display. This scroll was painted by Matsumura Keibun 景文 松村 (1779 – 1843)  “He was a leading figure in the Shijo school established by his half-brother, Matsumura Goshun (1752-1811). Their father, a fourth-generation official of the Kyoto gold mint, died when Keibun was two years old, making it likely that he would follow Goshun, 27 years his senior, into an artistic career. Keibun mastered the techniques of painting taught at Goshun’s studio at Shijo-Sakaimachi in Kyoto. He studied the work of Maruyama Okyo (1733–1795), whose blend of realism and decorative beauty exerted a major influence on him. Keibun’s numerous sketchbooks reveal his lifelong adherence to Okyo’s dictum to draw from nature. Additionally, he was familiar with Chinese literati painting (Bunjinga) and art theories of the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) periods. In his later years he associated with Koishi Genzui (1793–1865), a leading figure of Confucian literati circles in Kyoto. In 1797 Keibun’s work was chosen for exhibition by the leading literati scholar and painter, Minagawa Kien (1734–1807) who from 1792 sponsored twice-yearly exhibitions of new works of painting. By 1801 his designs were being included with those of Goshun and other Kyoto artists in woodblock-printed picture-books (ehon). After Goshun’s death in 1811 Keibun shared the leadership of the Shijo school with fellow-pupil Okamoto Toyohiko (1773-1845), and the two became the most popular painters in Kyoto. Keibun was particularly noted for his bird-and-flower (kacho) compositions.(MyJapanesehanga.com)

Signature and chop of Matsumura Keibun.

The third and last component is an accent planting of Sumac, Rhus copallium, in fall color with fern, Selaginella sp.

This display was only installed for a few days as the Sumac quickly dropped its leaves. Fall is a wonderful time to create displays as trees and plants are changing color on a daily basis.

On that note, our annual Fall bonsai exhibit opens tomorrow, Saturday October 20th and continues through November 4th.

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