|2009 ABS Joshua Roth New Talent Contest|
Peter Tea of San Jose, CA Best New Bonsai Talent of 2009
The Joshua Roth New Talent Bonsai Competition, for those participating in bonsai for less than ten years and traditionally held at an
American Bonsai Society Learning Symposium, was held at the 2009 Golden State Bonsai Federation Convention in Riverside, California.
The daylong design and styling session began at8:00 am and continued until 5:00 pm. Convention participants watched as the competitors initially viewed the untrained junipers and returned several times during the day to watch the final design take shape. The seven competition finalists pruned and wired to create their vision of the bonsai within the plant. No repotting takes place during the competition so the trees and the artist’s skill are judged only by the wiring and pruning to create the design. It wasn’t meant to be a competition between the two coasts of the U.S. but five competitors make their homes on the west coast two on the east coast.
To fairly compare the talent demonstrated by this year’s group to past participant’s efforts, the trees, Garden Junipers, Juniperus procumbens, were again hand-picked and purchased from Steve Cratty’s Plant City Bonsai as in past competitions.
The competition trees went on display for all convention participants to view, critique, photograph and vote for the artist’s tree they thought best-demonstrated design and technical skills. The total number of votes for the top bonsai artist of 2009 totaled over 80% of the convention registrants. When those votes were counted,Michelle Dougherty of Escondido, California and her tree received the most votes and received the People’s Choice Award. Four highly regarded bonsai teachers attending the convention reviewed the trees and their votes were, combined with the popular vote. Peter Tea and his tree were declared the winner and Michelle Dougherty runner-up.
This competition is meant to be a learning experience for the participants as well as the convention attendees. At the Saturday night banquet, selected comments from the four teachers were shared with all attending. Following the convention, each competitor received a written summary of the teacher’s comments.
Peter, an automotive technician in his non-bonsai life, says he made all the common mistakes of a bonsai newby after trying bonsai from reading books and applying what he thought it meant. He relates finding the bonsai inside the bush to the technical aspects of solving problems in his career. When he started his job, the foreman was a bonsai enthusiast and displayed trees in his office. Peter was new so he thought, “What better way to get on his good side than to ask about this bonsai.” The more he heard the more interested in bonsai he became.
He goes on to say that once he joined Midori Bonsai Club and began classes with Boon his bonsai skills rapidly increased. He graduated from Boon’s intensive program and along the way learned patience. Always interested in art, the bonsai community is glad this was the first art form he tried as Peter promises to be an important part of the future of bonsai.
The prize for the winner of the Joshua Roth New Talent Bonsai Competition is a private course of study with a respected bonsai teacher. Peter selected the teacher who has had the most influence on his skill and knowledge development, Boon Manakitivipart. All participants received a discount on Joshua Roth tools.
The MidAtlantic Bonsai Societies will host the 2010 competition on Friday, April 18th. Entry information and forms are available on the American Bonsai Society website www.absbonsai.org or the MABS website http://midatlanticbonsai.freeservers.com.
Photographs by Michael Jonas and Pauline Muth