The 3rd National Juried Bonsai Pot Exhibition – June 12, 2015 – August 30, 2015


Cover Photo by Neil Edmund.

 The exhibition catalog is now available for download, click here to download.


The 3rd National Juried Bonsai Pot Exhibition

Since the last National Bonsai Pot Competition in 2002, the number of potters making quality bonsai containers in the United States has increased significantly.  This exhibition at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum not only features the work of many well-known potters but also introduces to the public a new generation of talented artists.

NBF President Felix Laughlin remarked, “The exhibition is in keeping with the National Bonsai Foundation’s mission of increasing the appreciation of the art of bonsai, in this case by showcasing new and experimental ideas for bonsai containers.  With this exhibition, we are expanding the boundaries of typical bonsai display and encouraging a new generation of American bonsai pot makers.

This exhibition, presented in the Museum’s Special Exhibits Wing, is organized to display seven style categories of Bonsai Container design. Beginning with Accent and Kusamono containers, it continues with groupings of Cascade/Semi- Cascade, and then the Experimental Design section — a unique category that invited artists to investigate non-traditional solutions for bonsai containers. Next in order are the Ovals, Rectangles and Rounds, ending with the Shohin group.  Examples of the work of the jurors, as well as the exhibit curators, Ron Lang and Sharon Edwards-Russell, appear at the end of the exhibition.

An esteemed panel of jurors was called upon to make the difficult decisions to narrow down the 366 bonsai pots submitted by 52 artist/potters.  Two rounds of jurying narrowed the field to the 89 containers that were chosen for display, the work of 31 artist/potters.

  • Deborah Bedwell is the former Executive Director (1980-2011) of Baltimore Clayworks and one of its founding artists. She is currently serving as President of the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts, NCECA.  A talented potter, Deborah specializes in porcelain wares.
  • Michael Hagedorn has a background in fine art with a MFA in Ceramics from Alfred University. Now a bonsai stylist, teacher and lecturer, he apprenticed in Japan under master Shinji Suzuki in 2003. Owner of Crataegus Bonsai, he is a founding member of the Portland Bonsai Village in Oregon.
  • Sara Rayner has been a full-time potter in Red Wing, MN for over 31 years; she has focused solely on bonsai containers for the past 16. She is perhaps the most respected maker of contemporary American bonsai containers today.

Awards were presented during the Opening Reception on June 12th. First and Second Place Awards were presented in the following Style Categories: Round, Oval, Rectangle, Cascade/Semi-Cascade, Shohin, Accent Containers/Kusamono First, Second and Third Place Awards were presented in the Experimental Design Category.

The National Bonsai Foundation wishes to sincerely thank Douglas Paul, Kennett Collection in Kennett Square, PA and Michael Pollack, Bonsai Shinsei in New York, for their generous sponsorship of this event.  We also salute the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum which opened in  2010 in Saitama-city, Japan, and has an important historical link to the people and a prior bonsai museum in Japan that prompted us to initiate a national pot competition here in the United States.

Curator’s Statement

In many ways, each and every hand-made container by any of the talented crafts-persons producing bonsai pots in this country today is non-traditional.  These are usually one-of-a-kind and show variation, modification and development in theme and techniques.  And unless someone is purposely imitating another container or setting up a production run or using casting methods, each will be unique.

While some folks want the container to all but disappear or to be a very secondary element to the tree, I don’t see why the container can’t be a more active element. Relationships can be dynamic as well as comfortable.  There’s room for both. As a pot maker you develop a kind of aesthetic barometer where you respectfully consider what the tree brings to the table.

For me, this is not the “picture frame for a painting” analogy so often assigned as the passive role for bonsai pots.  I have never liked that comparison.  Does a painting really even need a frame?  Bonsai, by definition, need their container and for reasons that go beyond functional life support. The magic of bonsai, the marvel and wonder of seeing a real living tree in an unaccustomed miniature scale is initiated by the container beneath it.  Rather than being just a substitute for the earth, the container is the artistic mechanism, the human element that stages the drama. When it all comes together just right, as in all good theatre, we willingly surrender our disbelief.

I want to sincerely thank all the artists who took the chance to participate in this very special event. It was such a pleasure to get to meet the many who attended the opening reception.  I hope to be able to keep in touch and see their wonderful pots under wonderful Bonsai and Kusamono in the coming years.

Ron Lang

On June 12, 2015 the winners of the 3rd National Juried Bonsai Pot Exhibition were announced.

The Exhibition is sponsored by the National Bonsai Foundation and the U. S. National Arboretum with generous support from The Kennett Collection and Bonsai Shinsei New York.

Exhibit Curators are Ron Lang and Sharon Edwards-RussellPartners Lang Bonsai Containers.  The Jury Panel for the Exhibit included: Deborah Bedwell, President, National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts; Michael Hagedorn, Bonsai Artist, Teacher, Lecturer, Crataegus Bonsai; and Sara Rayner, Bonsai Artist and Maker of Bonsai Pots.

If you are interested in purchasing works from the Exhibition please scroll below the winners and download the Gallery Guide to see which work is still available for purchase.

Award Winners

Accent/Kusamono Pot


1st Place: Jonathan Cross of Tempe, Arizona

2 Ruseau_Kit_453796SM

2nd Place: Kit Ruseau of Silver Spring, Maryland

Cascade/Semi-Cascade Pot

3 CascadeSemi-Cascade_Oxnard_Jake_453787SM

1st Place: Jake Oxnard of Tampa, Florida

4 CascadeSemi-Cascade_Ziebarth_Steven_453844SM

2nd Place: Steven Ziebarth of Cleveland, Ohio

Oval Pot

5 Katich_Paul_453622SM

1st Place: Paul Katich of Jacksonville, Florida

6 eckhoff_girard_453614SM

2nd Place: Girard Eckhoff of Jackson, New Jersey

Rectangle Pot


1st Place: Zachary Dunn of Syracuse, New York

8 Olson_Paul_453762SM

2nd Place: Paul Olson of Riverside, Rhode Island

Round Pot​

9 Tolbert_Preston_450415SM

1st Place: Preston Tolbert of Old Fort, North Carolina

10 Katich_Paul_453620SM

2nd Place: Paul Katich of Jacksonville, Florida

Shohin Pot


1st Place: Jonathan Cross of Tempe, Arizona

12 Ruseau_Kit_453793SM

2nd Place: Kit Ruseau of Silver Spring, Maryland

Experimental Design Pot

13 Experimental-Design_CROSS_JONATHAN_4536602SM

1st Place: Jonathan Cross of Tempe, Arizona

14 Thomas_Brett_453730SM

2nd Place: Brett Thomas of Media, Pennsylvania

15 Bodenhamer_William_453639SM

3rd Place: William Bodenhamer of Towson, Maryland