Retrospective:Where Has This Guy Been for 5 Years?

The title for this post is pretty self explanatory. Today I’ll answer the question of where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to since I stopped publishing articles and blogs here nearly 5 years ago. I felt my passion slipping away then, so I decided, for a while, to focus instead on lecturing in person, and to go to shows, not just as a vendor, but as an enthusiast. My goal was to rekindle my love of bonsai and bonsai pottery and rediscover the passion that had become jaded and sharp from the business of it all. And it was a decided success.
Let’s take a look at the highlight reel of some of the places I’ve been, some friends I’ve met along the way, and some of what I’ve seen since I’ve been away from the site! Don’t worry, once you pass through the gauntlet of pictures of my ugly mug there ware more pots and trees to look forward to at the end!

Charity Work

With my partner Dave Paris, along with the Beer, Wine, and Cheese and Bonsai Auctions Facebook groups, over the last 5 years charity work for members of the community is easily the thing I’m most proud of. We’ve raised well over $60,000 with combinations of Gofundme pages and Facebook auctions of items donated by generous members of the community. We’ve championed many causes, ranging from a new car for Nestor Torres, to the fairly recent Owen Reich home fire, to helping with Roy Minarai’s daughter’s medical bills, among many others. Watching the bonsai community come together and give to others in the art in need has been wonderful to behold and always reminds me that the people are the thing I love most about bonsai.

To recognize my services to the community in Charity work and in providing free pottery information through the site and database, I was made a Bonsai Angel at the 2018 National Exhibition. An exclusive honor that comes with a lovely Gold pin….it was the first and will be the last time anyone calls me an Angel. Never been so humbled in my life…nor have I ever been speechless.

Big Exhibition Lectures

Since the last article I published before this year, in March 2016, I’ve spoken at dozens of clubs and societies, along with several larger National, Regional, and State Level Exhibitions. In that nearly 5 year span, I’ve lectured at 2 US National Bonsai Exhibitions, 2 US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibitions, the UK National Exhibition, the Lone Star Bonsai Federation state exhibition, the Mid America Bonsai Alliance Regional Exhibition, the American Bonsai Society Exhibition in St. Louis, and was one of the headliners at the 2019 Golden State Bonsai Federation California state exhibition. It’s been an absolute blast to meet enthusiasts from all over the US and Europe at these Exhibitions and an honor to speak at them.

Speaking at the 2016 US National Bonsai Exhibition.
At the 2018 US National Bonsai Exhibition.
My Fukushige 7 point pottery display from the 2017 1st US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition.
Speaking at the 2019 2nd US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition.
Matthew Ouwinga, Myself, and Bill Valavanis at the 1st National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition with a selection of masterpiece pots from the Ouwinga Collection.
“This guy”, Matthew Ouwinga, generously brings a selection of the finest bonsai containers ever made for use in my National lectures.
It’s almost impossible to truly understand why masterpiece containers are what they are, and why they cost what they cost, from photos. Allowing public display at my lectures of some of the best examples of containers made by artists like Heian Tofukuji, Kouzan, Tsukinowa Yusen, Daisuke, and others Matt has done the community a great service, and I owe him a serious debt of gratitude.
Nowhere else in the West open to the public can you examine true masterpieces and Japanese Cultural Treasures of bonsai pottery other than these lectures. One day I hope that Matthew opens a museum in Maryland.
From the 2nd US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition. I’m explaining that the container I’m touching is the only container Heian Tofukuji ever signed with his real name.
A National tradition, the Coquito toast, with good friends Nestor Torres, Roy Minarai, and Chris Denton at my booth at the 1st US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition.
Louise Leister, Sean Smith, Mike Lebanik, Andy Youtz, Nestor Torres, Roy Minarai, Dave Paris, Me, Stacey Macey, and Trisha Walters relaxing after a long day at the US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition.
Speaking at Bonsai Europa, the UK National Bonsai Exhibition, to a standing room only crowd. A great exhibition and a fantastic time, compliments of Tony Tickle and Bury.
Best in Show and Best Shohin awards(also my favorite), 7 point display by friends Mark and Ritta Cooper at the UK National Bonsai Exhibition
For my co-headlining appearance at the GSBF California state exhibition, a full room was dedicated to a pottery exhibition I put together, with a later critique given by myself and Taiga Urushibata.
Well over a hundred pots and display tables were brought in by GSBF members for me to choose from to create a full room display, along with a couple dozen I literally stole from a generous vendor(thanks again to Nathan Simmons).
One of my two displays, a 6 point display of Fukushige.
Tofukuji(top), Seifu Yohei cup(middle), Ikkou(bottom), Ichiyou(on root stand, right, not shown).
Snapshot with caption of my lecture stolen from Bjorn Bjorholm’s YouTube video summarizing the LSBF Texas state convention.
BBQ Dinner after the LSBF Texas state convention. Clockwise from left: Me, Sylvia and Howard Smith, Daisaku Nomoto, and Juan Andrade.
With Joseph McCoy at my booth at the LSBF state convention.
The infamous LSBF Pub Committee. I really don’t recognize everyone, but that’s me in the center, Daisaku Nomoto, Juan Andrade, Howard Smith, and Bjorn Bjorholm on the left, and May Lau and Hoe Chuah sitting on the right.
With my carpool buddy, potter Byron Myrick, at MABA in Indianapolis, holding the Roy Minarai pot he won that I had donated for the auction.

Club Lectures and Nursery Events

I’ve been a guest lecturer at several dozen clubs, nurseries, societies, and associations over the last 5 years in the US and the UK. It’s been a real pleasure, not only to teach in so many different places, but to meet people in the community from such diverse regions and see the differences in how they practice bonsai and the differences in their taste in pottery.

Alex Rudd’s(Mai Bonsai) European Bonsai Potter Collective and Harry Harrington’s Bonsai4Me arranged for me to do a special private lecture just outside of London.
Held in a private room down the pub, it was a fun and informal lecture. Above we have Sean Stolp, Alex Rudd, Me, Richard Lock, Harry Harrington, Mark Choney, Thor Holvila and Carina Jern. Several potters other than Thor were in attendance as well, including David and Mark from Walsall Studio and Roman Husmann, who drove 5 hours out of his way home to Germany to see the lecture after seeing the first one I did in Manchester!
3 nerds sitting around Alex Rudd’s house discussing…what else? Bonsai pots!
Every Year I’ve attended except for the last 2(2019 for health reasons and 2020 for Covid) I speak and vend at Brussel’s Bonsai Rendezvous event. With Todd Schlafer and Amy Blanton.
Matt Ouwinga and Rodney Clemmons on stage for the nightly 3 artist dueling demos. Probably my favorite annual event, Brussell Martin always brings in 3 of the best artists in the World, along with the 3 world class regulars that are there every year(Kathy Shaner, Marc Noelanders, and Rodney Clemmons).
With amazing Czech artist Vaclav Novak, Jim Doyle, Libby Tisdale, and Seth Behner at a brewery after one of my two lectures at the annual Nature’s Way Bonsai Open House on World Bonsai Day.
Vaclav Novak demos a Yamadori pine in bunjin style at Nature’s Way Nursery’s Open House.
Me grilling the highly erudite Dr. Hoe Chuah about Chinese bonsai containers, about which he’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know, at one of my 2 lectures at the Houston Bonsai Society.
I finally give up, throw my hands up, and admit I don’t know what I’m talking about at the Nashville Bonsai Society.
In Seattle with Josef Addis and his pottery collection, before my lecture at the Puget Sound Bonsai Association. Josef was nice enough to chauffeur me around to the Pacific Bonsai Museum, Dan Robinson’s Elandan Gardens, and Robert Cho’s Asia Pacific Imports with its giant selection of Cantonese containers(and a few very special pots from Mr. Su!).
At some point I did a two week lecture tour of California sponsored by GSBF, with 8 or so speaking dates between the Bay Area and LA. While I was in the Bay Area, somehow Jonas Dupuich and Eric Schrader convinced me to get in front of a video camera. You can see it here: Eric Schrader Interview for Phutu.
Enjoying Korean BBQ with several bonsai guys from LA. ‘Nel Son’, Robert Pressler, Tyler Ferrer, Javier Vallin, and Rishi Bissoon(behind the lens).
With Curator Ted Matson on a private working tour of Huntington Gardens. It was amazing to see the gardens while they were closed and we had the place to ourselves. Very cool to see trees and pots donated by many of the founders of Bonsai on the West coast like John Naka.
Doing some work appraising the museum’s pottery collection. I was able to get through around half in the few hours they had me to work, with help from Ted Matson and Michael Bullington.
Obligatory meal photograph taken by Boon Manakitivipart after an excellent Dim Sum lunch with Boon and Morten Wellhaven.
With Nathan Simmons and Doyle Saito after my lecture at Robert Pressler’s Kimura Bonsai Nursery.
Mark Levinstein peruses my sales table at the Dai Ichi Bonsai Kai lecture. Ben Griffin at lower right playing on his phone.

Pots, Bonsai, and Other Stuff

A few highlights and random photos of bonsai pottery I’ve seen, sold, bought, or been given in my travels in the last 5 years, along with a few photos of the many bonsai I’ve seen and other pics. Enjoy!

The Huntington Gardens Japanese Garden in Southern California. See what I mean by how awesome it was to be there when closed? Empty pathways and a clear view.
Huntington Gardens Chinese Garden. Probably the most impressive garden I’ve ever visited in the US. These photos barely scratch the surface of everything there; I could fill this entire post with photos from Huntington alone. The giant viewing stones in the Chinese style garden are absolutely incredible. Must see.
One of many photos I took of the GSBF Bonsai Museum at Lake Merritt in Oakland. Many historical Bonsai in the collection, some dating back to importation for the 1908 World’s Fair.
Gorgeous antique British Agateware at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The V&A houses one of the most extensive and comprehensive pottery collections in the world.
Antique Chinese Hare’s Fur, Partridge Feather, and Oil Spot glazes in the above 3 photos.
Amazing antique Chinese Oxblood, Peach Blossom, and Flambé glazes at the A&V Museum.
Nakawatari Cream Crackle formerly of the Takagi collection. I’ve seen very few of these that were real, had to have it.
Collected one seed junipers and deadwood details at Deep Forest Gallery outside of Dallas.
Gigantic bald cypress, formerly one of Guy Guidry’s trees, now at Deep Forest Gallery.
Awesome glaze on a uniquely shaped pot gifted to me by Beau Venne.
Pots and pots and pots! One of several display and sales areas for containers at Nature’s Way Nursery.
Incredible California juniper that was in the process of being restyled at the Huntington Gardens Museum.
A gift from Patricia of PAS pottery when I was in England. I’d begged to buy one of her reds made in Shigaraki for years…finally she just gave up and gave me one.
Giant Ashe Juniper, named “King of the Hill”, collected and styled by Howard and Sylvia Smith at the LSBF state convention.
The two pics above were part of my sales booth at the 1st US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition.
Very famous Nick Lenz bonsai at the Pacific Bonsai Museum.
Japanese Beech at the Pacific Bonsai Museum. Easily the best in the US and one of my favorites on display.
Unglazed cascade pot with pure silver rivets I was given the opportunity to buy from Andrew Pearson of Stone Monkey Pottery. This was one of the pots Andrew displayed at the 11th Kobachi Artists Exhibition in Japan.
Awesome Raft style at the UK National Exhibition.
A really cool Tsukinowa Yusen with a greenish crawling glaze. I parted ways with this one somewhere….regret it.
Fantastic Kutani Ikko I also sold somewhere along the way, another I wouldn’t have minded keeping.
Large marked Kowatari Chinese cascade Canton pot, with very old kiri bako and a custom fitted stand for a perfect and tight fit in the box. This one isn’t going anywhere.
And we’ll finish up with a California Juniper by the great John Naka at the GSBF Bonsai Museum at Lake Merritt.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at what I’ve been up to in the last several years since the articles stopped. Next Monday’s scheduled post we’ll be back to the old standby Artist profile, with future articles coming up on Patina, Cost and Value, and Yuuga, plus many artist profiles!

Thanks for reading!

About japanesepots

I've been collecting Japanese Bonsai pots for a few years, and feel that the famous, and some of the lesser known but great Japanese pot artists could do with a little more writing and exposure in English. Additionally, this blog will feature My own And others bonsai for discussion. The purpose of this blog is to further knowledge of Japanese pottery and Japanese style bonsai. If you have any questions about Japanese bonsai pottery, or would like to acquire pots by some of the potters presented in the blog, feel free to email me at gastrognome@aol.com
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2 Responses to Retrospective:Where Has This Guy Been for 5 Years?

  1. dangel7254 says:

    Fabulous work! I hope to see one of your lectures sometime. Best Dan Angelucci

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. Mac McAtee says:

    Great blog entry Ryan. Glad you are continuing to educate the bonsai world.

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