Sordoni Art Gallery hosts bonsai lecture

The Sordoni Art Gallery had its first art in context lecture for its new exhibit “Ukiyo-e to Shin Hanga: Japanese Woodcuts from the Syracuse University Art Collection.”

The lecture featured Carl Achhammer Jr. of Zenchaser Bonsai.

Bonsai is the art of dwarfing trees, according to Achhmamer.

“Bonsai is the perfect combination of art and horticulture,” said Acchammer.  “I also see bonsai as self-expression through nature. You have an unsculpted tree, whatever you are feeling as you sculpt it, those feelings will go into the tree.”

Achhammer started by going into the common misconceptions he’s heard throughout the years.

“Bonsai is the art, not the tree,” he explained. “We use many species for the art.”

Other misconceptions he spoke about include the presumption that bonsai are hard to maintain.

“The inital requirement is keeping the tree alive,” he said. “Water and food are kind of the inital requirement to keep you alive. If you can remember to feed yourself, you can remember to keep your plant alive.”

Bonsai trees require water at least once every other day, not once a week like many people believe.

Another misconception is that bonsai trees are indoor plants. According to Acchammer, the plants are typically kept outdoors, and if needed in a temperature climate, are brought inside and surrounded with growth lights.

“Bonsai is a discipline, much like karate, music, art,” he said. “Whatever level you get into it at, just try to do it at the best of your ability.”

After discussing the misconceptions, Achhammer drew on a white board to explain the various ways a bonsai artist would clip a tree.

Acchammer then demonstrated his process on a tree for the audience. With the tree, Acchammer clipped the first half of the tree, then bent the tree using special wire to make it appear like it was blown with the wind.

At the lecture, the Sordoni Art Gallery held a raffle for students to attend a bonsai workshop on April 28. The tickets are regularly $85.

Miranda Zink, junior Neuroscience and Psychology major, spoke about her excitement on winning the raffle.

“I’m pretty excited. I think it’s pretty exciting to design my own bonsai,” she said. “I am really bad at art and I don’t have any talents, but I do like to be able to be creative. It’s like being able to be creative, but no talent required.”

The other winner of the raffle was Olivia Carabello.

At the lecture, many of the audience members asked questions on different specifics of bonsai art.

Alyson Kole asked Acchammer about taking in wild saplings for usage in bonsai.

“I hike a lot, and (Acchammer)mentioned how the tress grow on mountains. I see saplings often. Can I pick them?” she asked.

Acchammer said that the saplings, if they are on your own private property, can be taken.

The gallery’s curator lecture is on Thursday at 5 p.m featuring Andrew Saluti, the program coordinator of the gallery.

Other events include an art in context lecture with Wilkes professor Dr. Akira Shimizu, a bonsai workshop on April 28, and a crane origami activity on April 30.

The Sordoni Art gallery runs until May 18. The gallery is open noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and  open 10 a.m. to on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The gallery is also open Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.