Portland Japanese Garden to feature works of American bonsai artist Ryan Neil in American Bonsai: The Unbridled Art of Ryan Neil
Portland, Oregon – For over a thousand years, the Japanese art of bonsai has intrigued and delighted people with its artistic and painstaking approach to forming trees into beautiful and evocative miniature shapes. Using species native to the American West, bonsai artist Ryan Neil has translated and adapted techniques into an American vernacular. From May 21-June 19, 2016 the outdoor courtyard of the Portland Japanese Garden will host American Bonsai: The Unbridled Art of Ryan Neil, giving Garden visitors the opportunity to see iconic American trees, such as Ponderosa Pines, Douglas Firs, and Coastal Redwoods transformed into living works of art. The exhibit will feature about a dozen living art pieces with trees ranging from 100 to 500 years old to create a dialogue about the trees and places that shape American history and culture.
About Ryan Neil
Ryan Neil grew up on the western slopes of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. From an early age, he was fascinated by the natural and ever-changing beauty of the region’s windswept trees and by their resilience, which allowed the trees to survive years of harsh conditions. After studying horticulture, Ryan moved to Japan for six years, where he apprenticed with bonsai master Masahiko Kimura, a revolutionary figure in contemporary Japanese bonsai art.
After returning from Japan in 2010, Neil moved to Portland, Oregon, to develop and practice his art. Diane Durston, the Portland Japanese Garden’s Curator of Culture, Art and Education brought Neil in to show the connection of Eastern and Western cultures coming together. Says Durston, “We are so excited to show Ryan’s work. He does a remarkable job of channeling the craftsmanship and discipline of this ancient Japanese art form while reflecting the untamed landscape of the American West.”
What is Bonsai?
The Japanese art of bonsai, which literally translates into “tray planting,” combines art with the natural world, mindfulness, and a dedication to detail. While contemporary bonsai artists, such as Neil, are constantly developing and exploring new techniques, the roots of contemporary bonsai can still be found in the centuries-old traditions of paying attention to every branch, needle, leaf, and delicate detail.
Through using tree species of the American West and pushing the traditional boundaries of bonsai art, Ryan works to challenge his viewers’ conceptions of bonsai art as purely contemplative and seeks to evoke a range of emotions and responses.
American Bonsai: The Unbridled Art of Ryan Neil will run from May 21-June 19 during regular hours in the Garden’s outdoor courtyard. Access to the courtyard is included in the general admission ticket. The Garden is open on Mondays from noon to 7 p.m. and on Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $9.50 for adults; $7.50 for seniors (65+) and college students with ID; and $6.75 for youth aged 6-17. Children under five are admitted free.
About the Portland Japanese Garden
For 53 years, the Portland Japanese Garden has been a haven of serenity and tranquility, nestled in the scenic West Hills of Portland. It is considered the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan and is one of the foremost Japanese cultural organizations in North America. Its Cultural Crossing expansion project, which adds space for exhibitions, educational programming, and cultural events, will be completed in Spring 2017.
Learn more at japanesegarden.com.