Below are me and a large serpentine stone. The portion above ground's fantastic shapes are irresistible, unfortunately I'll have to wait many years before the full stone is exposed by erosion. Then again, maybe not.
Suiseki are small to medium-sized stones that have naturally weathered into aesthetically pleasing shapes. Many suiseki suggest mountains, islands, and waterfalls. Others resemble human or animal figures, or are prized for their colorful and abstract textures and patterns. Collected in the wild, on mountains and in stream beds, and then displayed in their natural state, these stones are objects of great beauty. They are also sophisticated tools for inner reflection that stir in all who see them an appreciation for the awesome power of the universe. The Japanese have gathered suiseki for centuries, but the art has only become popular in the West in the last decade, especially among bonsai growers.
In my senior year in high school I was first exposed to suiseki in a two-page chapter in a small book on Bonsai published by the Japan Tourist Bureau. I have been intimately involved with the Japanese community since I arrived in Los Angeles, California, in 1960. At that time, because of my skin diving activities, I joined the Nisei Kelp Tanglers, a Japanese-American skin diving club I had read about while living in New York. It was by way of the lifelong friendships I made at that time that I was introduced to bonsai, and, in 1964, to suiseki by my bonsai sensei, the legendary Frank Nagata.
As my involvement with Japanese culture grew, I studied kendo, aikido and karate, as well as Japanese arts and philosophy. I continue to be fascinated by the complexity and abstract simplicity of the art of suiseki. I would like to share my fascination and love for this art form via my web site.
I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to pursue doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1968. An interest in rock climbing and mountaineering gave my interest in suiseki a more hands-on, or tactile perspective. As I enjoyed climbing in such varied locations as Yosemite, the United Kingdom's Welsh countryside, the French and Italian Alps, and Italy's Dolomites, I also visualized them as miniatures, or suiseki. In the mid-1970s I made contact with Japanese-American suiseki aficionados who introduced me to classic suiseki collecting locations in Northern California. I joined the San Francisco Suiseki Kai in the mid-1980s and had the honor of studying with the esteemed, Mr. Keiseki Hirotsu. You may read more about him in my book and, for the first time, my long lost photos of his suiseki were finally found by me. I have labored with love to present the suiseki community with a page devoted to many of his classic suiseki. Enjoy them.
My studies and teachings in suiseki have led me to lecture throughout the United States; to bonsai clubs and mineral and gem societies and other interested groups. I lectured at the Second World Bonsai Congress, in Orlando, Florida, and have been a keynote speaker at the European Suiseki Association Exhibition in France. I have also lectured at suiseki exhibitions in Puerto Rico and Spain several times. I have also lectured at the Bonsai Clubs International's International Bonsai Congress in Puerto Rico in August, 1998, and the first ever all-Italy Suiseki Conference, Associazone Italiana Amatori Suiseki, in Italy, where I also judged their suiseki, in 1998 and 2006. I also lectured at the Crespi organization in Milan.
I was a keynote speaker in the first International Stone Appreciation Symposium in Pennsylvania in October, 2002.
My travels have allowed me to visit with well known suiseki artists in Europe and the USA. Especially enjoyable have been my visits with Arishige Matsuura whom I have visited in Tokyo and, and, my old friend Luciana Queirolo, Andrea and Mirella Schenone, Angelo Attina, Chiara Padrini, and all my buddies in Puerto Rico, England, France, and Spain.
My suiseki writings and interviews have been translated into Japanese, Chinese, Italian, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Czech, andówould you believeóRussian and Slovakian! I have had numerous articles published throughout the years, beginning with my first publication in 1984 in the Golden Statements magazine in California. I was the most published author in Jim Hayes' "Waiting to Be Discovered " magazine, I have also published articles in BCI's magazine, ABS' magazine and in German, Spanish and Italian magazines. I published in Bonsai Today magazine, as well as in "Rock and Gem" magazine. I have given numerous interviews for newspapers, including a live interview with a radio station in Australia. Lastly, I have been shown on numerous web sites, including the elegant web site of the All-Italy suiseki association, designed by Luciana Queirolo and her colleagues. I am a regular evaluator of suiseki for the Italian suiseki society newsletter.
The photo above is of my friend Arishige Matsuura Sensei and me in his home in Tokyo.
The image to the right is of Luciana Queirolo and myself.
"I was invited to be interviewed by Andrea Baucon, for his book, Geology in Art. My two-page contribution may be seen in one of the images. The book may be purchased from Blurb Books. The following quote helps explain the book's theme.
"Since the days of Leonardo da Vinci, art has been a passionate way to express geology. Geology in Art is the first book to document the artistic phenomena in which geology brings its own aesthetic and conceptual heritage. From painting to music, literature to sculpture, comics to photography, Geology in Art leads you on a journey through Geologic Art in a delightful and informative way. Accompanied by beautiful reproductions, the book crosses centuries and genres, from Leonardo to Conan Doyle. The contemporary art world is analyzed through interviews, in the belief that artists' opinions and statements are valid source materials for the study of Geologic Art. With its large format and more than 100 illustrations of art works, this is both a coffee-table book and an educational experience that informs, inspires and entertains art and geology enthusiasts alike."
"I was interviewed by a reporter from the Indian newspaper, the Hindu, and had the interview added to a larger article on the art of suiseki. The article was published on February 10th, 2010."
The following is a scan of an article some Russian bonsai/suiseki fans did of me. It was published in a glossy gardening magazine.
Below are scans of an Italian article about me written by Chiara Padrini. Luciana has written several articles about me.
still looking for that perfect stone...
photo taken by: Bob Carlson