Suiseki Program in October

July 21, 2010

As part of the Golden State Bonsai Federation convention this year, Bay Area suiseki enthusiasts are organizing a suiseki program, including a seminar, exhibit, and collecting trip. 

The convention runs from Thursday, October 28 – Sunday, October 31 at the Santa Clara Marriott.  Full information about the many activities and how to register for the convention can be found on their website: http://www.gsbfconvention.com/

The suiseki seminar is a panel discussion on Saturday Oct 30, 8:30 am – noon.  The panel members include some of the best-known suiseki teachers in California; they will discuss their views about how to find and recognize a good suiseki, how to finish or present it, and how to display the suiseki for others.  We expect this to be an interesting, informative, and provocative discussion.  

The stone-collecting trip, on Wednesday Oct. 27 – Thursday Oct. 28, will be a two-day trip to famous Eel River collecting sites where fine quality suiseki can be found. The trip is 1 1/2 days of stone collecting (all day Wednesday, and Thursday morning) with guidance from a team of experienced suiseki collectors.  The trip includes 2 picnic lunches and a dinner program.

Both the panel discussion and the collecting trip are paid convention events.  You can register for them through the convention website.

The bonsai and suiseki exhibit is open to the public free of charge.  It will be open from Friday, Oct 29 at 1:30 pm until Sunday, Oct 31 at 11:00 am.  Detailed open and close times can be found in the convention schedule. 

We are very much looking forward to seeing old friends, and making new ones, so please join us this fall.


Gomangoku Bonsai Show

February 20, 2009

Click to see a gallery of photos

This old five-needle pine carries my imagination up into the high mountains.

Last fall, Mas and I went to the Gomangoku Bonsai show (五万石盆栽展) in Okazaki, near Nagoya.

Daiju-en (大樹園), which puts on this exhibit, stands at the head of a group of bonsai nurseries run by some of the finest professional bonsai artists in Japan.  The proprietor is Tohru Suzuki, the grandson of the founer, Saichi Suzuki. My bonsai teacher, Boon Manakitivipart, is part of this lineage.  His teacher (or oyakata 親方), Kihachiro Kamiya, apprenticed with Tohru’s father, Toshinori.

One of the things that sets Japanese bonsai apart from our American bonsai  is the age and development of the trees.  You can see this especially when you look at the ancient bark on the pines.  In time our trees will also show the beauty and dignity of age.

click to see a gallery of photos

Gomangoku has a large, high-quality, sales area.

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Curtain Call

December 21, 2008
2008 12 20 003 2009 BIB Show ltroom resized

Click on the photo to see additional pictures

Fall and winter are always a busy time of year for me, and my blogging rate falls off accordingly.   Right now, I am about to start final preparations for the 10th Anniversary Bay Island Bonsai exhibit, which will be  held January 17-18, 2009.  I am showing the four bonsai you see above, and Mas is planning two suiseki displays.

This year’s show trees are sleeping right now, but in a couple of weeks I will dress each one up and get it ready for display.  This includes various activities such as applying a top dressing of moss, removing wires, and cleaning and (lightly) oiling the pots.

Coming up in the New Year I’ll return with more of Mas’ suiseki, as well as some photos of the interesting places we saw in our recent trip to Japan.

Meanwhile, Mas and I would like to wish you a Good Solstice, and a very Happy New Year.

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Old Friends, New Faces III

August 16, 2008

Mas will be sowing his latest suiseki art sculpture and two paintings in the next show at Triangle Gallery, Old Friends, New Faces III.

Old Friends, New Faces III
August 26, 2008 – September 27, 2008
Reception September 6, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Triangle Gallery
47 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94108
Tel. 415.392.1686

Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Painting: “Winter Blue”;2008;48″ x 24″;Oil paint on wood board
Sculpture: “Great Land” (大地 Daichi), 2008; W 45″ x D 16″ x H 9″; Stone and paint on wood board (deodar cedar)

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Something old, something new

January 23, 2008

We held the Bay Island Bonsai 9th annual exhibit this past weekend, and for the third year in a row Mas was a guest exhibitor. Boon gives him free rein to do whatever he wants, so last year he made an entirely contemporary display with his Suiseki Art piece “Akebono”. This year Mas chose to combine a very traditional suiban display with one of his recent paintings. After creating the display, he titled it “Silence” (静寂 seijaku).

When we were creating this display Mas first tried a more traditional approach, using a calligraphy scroll that his mother had given us. The scroll has the character 然 (zen) which comes from the word shizen, or “nature”. It didn’t look good – the calligraphy was very strong and overpowered the stone, stealing all the attention. On top of that, the meaning of calligraphy is an essential part of it – you aren’t using it just for its visual appearance. Something essential is lost if the great majority of viewers don’t know the meaning.

So we started looking at some of Mas’ recent paintings from last summer. This painting was not made with any intention of displaying it with a suiseki, but when we tried it with this stone and suiban we realized how well they complemented each other.

Mas deliberately avoided giving a descriptive name or label to either the stone or painting . Having a description such as “coastal rock” or “waterpool” limits the viewer’s own imagination. For me, this display is a memory of morning on the Klamath river, surrounded by forest, with the mist rising off the water. For a fellow BIB member (of more practical bent perhaps) the painting seemed like a micrograph of the stone itself.

Having a suiseki display among bonsai gives a moment’s rest while going though the exhibit. In the midst of the trees is a quiet clearing where you can gather your thoughts and go on refreshed.

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Suiseki at the Asian Art Museum

November 18, 2007

The San Francisco Asian Art Museum is hosting a suiseki exhibit, put on by the California Suiseki Socity, as part of its AsiaAlive program (it will run through November 25, 2007). Mas and our friend Hideko Metaxas were asked to participate.

Hideko joined San Francisco Suiseki Kai when it was founded in 1981. She travels around the world lecturing on the display of the Japanese arts or bonsai, suiseki, and ikebana.

To accompany the suiseki exhibit Hideko created a formal display using, Mas’ Fuji-san suiseki, in the tokonoma of the museum’s tea room. The antique scroll and incense burner are from her collection.

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San Francisco Suiseki Kai – 26th Annual exhibit

August 3, 2007

This weekend (8/4-8/5) is the 26th exhibit for San Francisco Suiseki Kai. It is held in the hospitality room kindly provided by Union Bank in Japan Center. This year Mas and I will show three stones. Also, we are part of the “toban” group for the show this year, which means being responsible for tea and snacks for the members. Mas has been packing up all the stones, and making sure we have the right ji-ita for each one, while I’ve been getting these photos ready for posting. Then off to do our shopping and then to the city.

Meanwhile, we just got back from Lassen National Park. The stone there is volcanic, and pretty fresh at that – as such it is not suitable for suiseki (and anyway, it’s a National Park, which means look but don’t touch !). But anyone who loves stone and loves the mountains should visit Lassen. It is truly a national treasure.

After the weekend, I can catch up with regular life, and maybe even post the next article. It is a continuation of the creative daiza series, and explores some thoughts about how nature can inspire you in making daiza and presenting suiseki.

Click the picture to see the stones we are showing.

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