Kempinski’s Korner – August 2022

It’s Showtime at the Zoo!

It’s Show Time. BSOB has revived its annual show from a COVID induced slumber.  At the end of the month we will be showing trees at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida.  To that goal, we had a program last month about preparing trees for display. Let’s expand on that to help anyone interested in putting on an exciting display.

Display art is a totally different art than developing bonsai.  The tenets of display art have more in common with interior decorating or window display (by that I mean the kind of art used by department stores) than they do with growing and training bonsai. If you accept this logical premise then the first thing you need to consider is the theme or goal of what your display is trying to convey.

Creativity needs to kick in when settling on a theme.  There are many ideas, limited only by one’s imagination.  For example Fendi, the handbag company, used parachutes as a theme in this window display. One thing I like to do is use an Internet search engine and look at other displays set up artists to get my creative juices flowing.  Try to stretch the boundaries.  

Sample themes could be a various emotions, locations like a city or geographic area, scientific principles (I’ve used entropy and time travel as themes), literature, or other art.  The options are endless.

In putting the theme together consider what material you have. The tree to be displayed needs to be mature and worth showing. (But then if the theme and execution is strong enough, one could even show a stick in a pot to reinforce the theme – such as perhaps austerity.)  That is the beauty of art – it is up to the individual to interpret. Once you have a tree, decide the best way to use it in your theme.  Can you add something to the display: a backdrop, a poster, or a knick-knack?  The more creative you get the more impact the display will have. 

A couple of pointers:  Don’t try to include too much.  Less is better than more.  Don’t spell it out into much detail.  Let the viewer decide how to interpret your display.  Their view may be totally different than what you had in mind; and that is fine.  Actually even encouraged, it means your idea has resonated with the viewer.

To prime the pump I will include some photos I have collected over the years of creative bonsai display. So get thinking and do something creative.  Enjoy.  

Rob Kempinski

Rob is an internationally recognized bonsai artist and author.  He enjoys teaching bonsai at all levels and introducing newcomers to the pleasing art of growing miniature trees in a container.  Rob has written many articles for bonsai magazines and journals.  He has published several books, many on the art of bonsai.

Rob's Texas Sage
Rob Kempinski showing his Texas sage

Bonsai Society of Brevard

For more detailed information contact our Brevard based Bonsai club.

The Bonsai Society of Brevard is one of the many clubs within the Bonsai Societies of Florida.