Juniper and Pine displays at Pacific Bonsai Museum

Just opened a week ago, the Avant-Garden bonsai show. This is yet another of the innovative shows by Aarin Packard of the Pacific Bonsai Museum. Eight artists were asked to submit pieces, “evocative compositions that challenge our perceptions of what bonsai can be.”

Aarin asked me to submit two pieces to the show. He liked the Shore Pine I’d had in the Pacific Bonsai Expo, so we agreed on that one. And I had wanted to make a presentation for a small Rocky Mountain grafted with Itoigawa juniper. Sight unseen (as the stand hadn’t been made yet) he said yes. 

Both pieces in the display. I was given a platform to use as I wished, and as the stand was being made for the juniper I realized there wasn’t enough room on the platform for both pieces. I called Aarin and in a brainstorming session he suggested the juniper partly use the stand next to it. Which neatly solved the problem and, I think, greatly aided the whimsical nature of that one. And now the space between the pine and the juniper isn’t constricted. 

This Shore Pine was first shown at the 2022 Pacific Bonsai Expo. Details about its construction and conception here: Shore Pine at the Pacific Expo.

The thinking behind this piece is time. The slinky-like jumps from one place to another being the trajectory of the tree as it transforms and changes. This is a Rocky Mountain Juniper grafted with Itoigawa. In another post I’ll offer a photo gallery of the construction of this one. 

Thanks to my frequent collaborator Erich Raudebaugh for thinking this through with me and the construction of the stand. And for Kevin Bennett for making the 3-D printed slabs that both pine and juniper rest on. Thanks guys! Always great to go sideways with you! 

Some really fun tinkering going on with artists’ works in the show:

Above, a bonsai by Rubin Guzman and Aarin Packard, stand by Benjamin Keating.

Bonsai by Leo Cunningham and stand by Timea Tihanyi.

Aarin Packard.

Ryan Neil.

David Crust.

Nick Lenz. 

Greg Brenden.

The LAB project.


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  1. Todd Ellis says:

    I like the reference to “time” for the Juniper. I also see “the tree that got away….”; a reference to those trees that we wished we acquired.

  2. says:

    Very distracting display / stands. The focus should always be on the tree and nothing else. Maybe the trees are not impressive enough without a distraction. If it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it.

  3. Jim Sullivan says:

    I am in favor of ‘unusual’ materials for bonsai display; and some might say I use them myself. But I think perhaps a rearrangement or modification of the display on the right is in order, and perhaps a tweaking of the one on the left. Tension is fine; but the uppermost tree makes the display awkward and visually unstable. I would like it better without that tree. I believe the display on the left also has a disturbing tension. My untutored sensibility wishes that display to terminate with that tree perfectly vertical.

  4. Ray says:

    Uniique displays all round, we always talk about bonsai as art and this display exemplifies that. Beautiful👏👏👏👏👏

  5. Elaine says:

    At once delightfully inventive and inspiring. Creative design and original thinking. Keep going!

  6. wildflower2021 says:

    I love innovation in art! Here we see our minds expanded in ways we have not dreamed of….yet! Bravo to all who make this leap outside the box!!

  7. crust says:

    The innards of the Avant-garde show are these two awesome pieces. I especially appreciate the all-trades high craftsmenship of the composition. Love it!

  8. Ayla Baha says:

    Incredible work Michael! I love both of them and together even more.

  9. adasgupta2013 says:

    This is what it takes to uplift bonsai from the traditional Tokoname display to something ethereal . Love it and wish could see it in person .

  10. This was fun and challenging to work on with you Michael. If people don’t like the displays, I think that’s fine. In order to push the art forward, you need to take chances and try different and new things. Otherwise the art of bonsai will stagnate over time. Art should challenge people’s assumptions, at least a little bit, or it just isn’t that lively. For my part, I’m glad to see that more people are trying new ways to display bonsai, as you have been doing for some time.

  11. Wow fantastic! I am very happy to see that more and more people are looking for new direction in the art of Bonsai. Well done, dare to get out of the rules. Very nice initiative.

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