The Artisans Cup featured several panels throughout the weekend that gave visitors a chance to learn from the team that put the event together, from the Neils, and from the judges. During the judges’ panel, time was devoted to the different approaches of recognizing excellence in an exhibit.
The Artisans Cup recognized the 1st, 2nd and 3rd highest scoring trees regardless of size or variety (see “The Results are in!” for details). This approach takes a cue from Kokufu-ten in which judges recognize excellence without regard to tree size or variety. Unlike Kokufu, the Cup distinguished 1st place from 2nd and 3rd (Kokufu prizes share equal weight).
What’s great about this approach is that it produces a “winner” – an unambiguous best tree in the exhibit. This encourages competition and helps demonstrate excellence across categories. I also think it’s good as it encourages people to exhibit their very best trees, not their best trees within a given category.
That said, there are some great reasons to recognize trees by category too. This approach can encourage people to show different sizes and styles of trees which may lead to a more diverse show. It’s educational as we end up with exemplars in different categories – good for contrasting the characteristics we care about in deciduous varieties with those we look for in coniferous varieties.
With a strict category system, there’s no way to recognize a single “best in show.” It’s also tricky to handle situations where only a few trees appear in each category. If there are only two medium deciduous trees in an exhibit, is that enough competition to clearly award a winner? What if there is only one medium deciduous tree, but it’s the best tree in the exhibit?
The approach taken by the Taikan-ten and Sakufu-ten exhibits is to recognize the best tree in each category and award the honor of “best in show” separately. I think it’s a nice balance, though this too can be awkward in that the “best large conifer” is not as good as a large conifer that wins “best in show.”
Back in Oregon, we have the scores for all trees exhibited at the Artisans Cup and can recognize the best trees in each category after the fact. Using Dan Yamins’ normalized scores, I’ve indicated the trees with the highest average scores in several categories below. They’re all beautiful – I hope you enjoy them!
Best in Show – Randy Knight.
Rocky Mountain juniper
Best Large Conifer – Eric Schikowski.
Best Large Deciduous – Pacific Bonsai Museum.
Best Medium Deciduous – William N. Valavanis.
Japanese maple ‘Shishigashira’
Best Medium Conifer – Jason Eider.
As displayed with rose and fern
Subscribe to Bonsai Tonight
New Posts Delivered Every Tuesday and Friday