A place for conversation, incubation, and the connection of other mediums to the world of bonsai. In this podcast, guests from all over the world gather to explore bonsai as an avenue to connect nature, culture, and the individual. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Bob Pressler & the Ben Oki Juniper
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with an old friend and pillar of the California Bonsai scene - Bob Pressler of the California Bonsai Society. They dig deep into the roots of California bonsai; Bob moved to California and joined the bonsai scene under the likes of Ben Oki, Harry Hirao, and John Naka. Most importantly, they announce the creation of the Ben Oki Scholarship Foundation, to fuel the education of dedicated bonsai practitioners, funded by the upcoming auction (beginning September 3, 2019) of a stunning juniper collected and created by Ben Oki, most recently styled by Ryan. To learn more about the Ben Oki Scholarship Foundation, or apply for the scholarship, visit the California Bonsai Society website.
In this episode of Asymmetry, the tables are turned: Ryan is interviewed by Keegan Uhl, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, leather crafter, Mirai Live member, and dedicated bonsai practitioner. Enjoy this new perspective on an interview with Ryan, where a Mirai Live student gets to interview the teacher.
Advanced Class: Kokofu 64
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan and a group of Mirai's advanced students dive into the designs, compositions, stories, and histories of trees in the Kokofu 64 album. They critique and analyze this pivotal exhibition year, bringing their own experiences both in bonsai and in life to their discussion of these incredible trees.
Soil Science: Compost, Microclimates, and Biodiversity
In this episode of Asymmetry, we take another deep dive into soil science. Soil scientists Casey Ernst and Keisha Wheeler, along with Ian Hunter, discuss the value of compost, and how to use it to create a favorable microclimate in the containerized environment. Casey and Keisha are attempting to create and improve a biodiverse compost - and they could use your help perpetuating biodiversity. Listen to learn more about their groundbreaking projects.
Soil Science with Ian Hunter: Part Two
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan and Lime circle back for another discussion of soil science with Ian Hunter after a long day of experimentation in the greenhouse. They discuss their findings, plan for the future and realize the vast potential of refining soil biology practices as they related to bonsai; this is truly the next frontier of horticulture.
Journey to Australia
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan debriefs his latest trip to the land down under: Australia. Ryan and Lime discuss the changes in Australia since Ryan's last trip, both to Australia itself and Australian bonsai culture. Of particular interest is the growing use of native Australian species in Australian bonsai; they discuss some nuances of these unique trees, and cover how Australian bonsai is truly maturing and coming into its own.
The Art of Kimura: Part Five
On perhaps our most ambitious series of episodes yet, Ryan and Mirai student Will Kerns are diving deep into an incredible book: The Bonsai Art of Kimura. This book, a pivotal piece of literature in the bonsai canon, is chock-full of magical trees created by none other than Mr. Masahiko Kimura. Listen as Ryan and Will go page by page through the book–follow along if you have the text–and discuss the evolution, techniques, and history behind these masterful trees. This episode covers pages 146 through the end of the book.
The Art of Kimura: Part Four
On perhaps our most ambitious series of episodes yet, Ryan and Mirai student Will Kerns are diving deep into an incredible book: The Bonsai Art of Kimura. This book, a pivotal piece of literature in the bonsai canon, is chock-full of magical trees created by none other than Mr. Masahiko Kimura. Listen as Ryan and Will go page by page through the book–follow along if you have the text–and discuss the evolution, techniques, and history behind these masterful trees. This episode covers pages 134-145.
The Art of Kimura: Part Three
On perhaps our most ambitious series of episodes yet, Ryan and Mirai student Will Kerns are diving deep into an incredible book: The Bonsai Art of Kimura. This book, a pivotal piece of literature in the bonsai canon, is chock-full of magical trees created by none other than Mr. Masahiko Kimura. Listen as Ryan and Will go page by page through the book–follow along if you have the text–and discuss the evolution, techniques, and history behind these masterful trees. This episode covers pages 92-133.
The Art of Kimura: Part Two
On perhaps our most ambitious series of episodes yet, Ryan and Mirai student Will Kerns are diving deep into an incredible book: The Bonsai Art of Kimura. This book, a pivotal piece of literature in the bonsai canon, is chock-full of magical trees created by none other than Mr. Masahiko Kimura. Listen as Ryan and Will go page by page through the book–follow along if you have the text–and discuss the evolution, techniques, and history behind these masterful trees. This episode covers pages 60-91.
The Art of Kimura: Part One
On perhaps our most ambitious series of episodes yet, Ryan and Mirai student Will Kerns are diving deep into an incredible book: The Bonsai Art of Kimura. This book, a pivotal piece of literature in the bonsai canon, is chock-full of magical trees created by none other than Mr. Masahiko Kimura. Listen as Ryan and Will go page by page through the book–follow along if you have the text–and discuss the evolution, techniques, and history behind these masterful trees. This episode covers pages 35-59.
CoffeeCast with Ira & Darlene
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan and Lime sit down with two longtime Mirai students: Ira and Darlene. They're both dedicated bonsai practitioners with an extremely unique approach to the art form, based on their location—Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the toughest climates to cultivate bonsai in. They discuss the nuances of creating bonsai in the desert, their bonsai histories, both individual and shared, and their visions of the evolution of the art of bonsai.
Stephanie Wascha is an architect, artist, and author living and working in Seattle, Washington. Her passion is connecting people with place; her work ranges from private residences to mixed-use development, from historic preservation to community art projects. In this episode of Asymmetry, Stephanie sits with Ryan and Lime to discuss her background in ceramics, her growing interest in bonsai, her architectural practice, and the line walked between architecture and bonsai–and what we can learn from it.
Laura Buchan is a modern sculptor based in the breathtakingly beautiful Columbia Gorge. Her work pulls from biological and organic imagery; her main medium is carved wood. In her own words, she enjoys “creating pieces that walk the line between fantastic and realistic.” Ryan and Laura discuss her sculptural process, the organic influences that inform her work, and the overall practice and meaning of being an artist.
CoffeeCast with Pierre Seguin
In another CoffeeCast episode, Ryan sits down with one of Mirai’s most driven students: Pierre Seguin of Quebec. They discuss Pierre’s adventures and explorations as an Emmy-winning underwater videographer, wine expert, and of course, a bonsai practitioner. Pierre takes on all his pursuits with the highest levels of dedication; in this episode, dive into how bonsai correlates with all of his other passions.
CoffeeCast with Todd Schlafer
On our second CoffeeCast, we bring bonsai practitioner and great friend of Mirai Todd Schlafer (First Branch Bonsai) back for another early morning conversation. Ryan and Todd discuss Todd’s journey: his shift from working in the marketing world to becoming a bonsai professional is a truly inspiring story. In this episode, dive into the world of professional bonsai and all it entails, on career, personal, and creative levels.
On the 50th episode of Asymmetry, we go back to our roots: meeting the folks that are influencing the bonsai world and teaching fundamental techniques. Ryan and Lime sit down with UK bonsai practitioner Will Baddeley (Wild Wood Bonsai) to explore his background, his trees, and most importantly, his prodigious carving skills.
Reflections on the Trophy
After returning from the 20th Noelanders Trophy in Genk, Belgium, Ryan and Troy sit down with Lime to debrief. Walk with them through the halls of the exhibition, reliving the demonstrations, the incredible trees, and the bonsai camaraderie present at one of the world's finest exhibitions of bonsai.
Modern Soil Science with Ian Hunter
In this groundbreaking episode, prepare to expand your understanding of soil in the containerized environment. Soil scientist Ian Hunter walks us through the capacity of soil to facilitate microbial growth and the balance between fungi and bacteria, opening the door toward fending off diseases and insects without anything beyond the soil itself. Dig deep into a largely unknown world, and potentially the most important aspect of plant cultivation: the soil system and the flora that exists within it.
The Artisans Cup
In this episode of Asymmetry, travel back in time to 2015: the year that Mirai executed The Artisans Cup, a groundbreaking bonsai exhibition in Portland, Oregon. Troy, Lime, and Ryan sit down in the workshop and take a journey through the Artisans Cup book (link to buy below) and revisit the trees, displays, experiences, and conversations that made the exhibition great.
Greg Brenden & the Southwestern White Pine
In this episode of Asymmetry, get to know the incredibly significant Northwest bonsai artist Greg Brenden. Ryan and Greg discuss Greg's journey as a bonsai practitioner, how his practice has evolved over the years, and perhaps their most interesting topic–an incomparable Southwestern White Pine, the only specimen of its kind currently living as a bonsai. Ryan and Greg discuss this remarkable tree, once exhibited at the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition, the Artisans Cup, and now part of the Mirai collection.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan and Lime explore one of the most exciting times of the year for bonsai practitioners: repotting season. They discuss techniques, repotting as it parallels to life & other disciplines, and of course, get into plenty of stories along the way.
Asher Fulero & Josh Casey
On this special episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with two remarkable musicians: Asher Fulero (who's worked for years as a musician with bands like Emancipator and his own projects, and as a producer and composer) and bassist Josh Casey (also a bonsai practitioner). Ryan, Lime, Asher, and Josh dig in deep to open the idea and concept of creativity, how it's represented in music, and how it ties a common thread through all different art forms. They dive into art vs. craft, the production process, and how those ideas cross disciplines. And of course, there are some great stories from the road.
Good Morning with Todd Schlafer
On this episode of Asymmetry, join Ryan, Troy, Lime, and great friend of Mirai Todd Schlafer (First Branch Bonsai) as they catch up on our earliest-recorded podcast to date–7am. They discuss artificial intelligence, that day's incredible sunrise, and debrief Ryan's trip to Italy. All four of them share their highlights of 2018, and their aspirations for the new year.
Pacific Bonsai Museum's LAB Project
This episode of Asymmetry was recorded after the first meeting of the Pacific Bonsai Museum LAB project: the Living Art of Bonsai. This is a first-of-its-kind of program, based on an artist-in-residency model, providing bonsai artists the opportunity to create works of art outside the limitations of the marketplace. Featured artists Ryan Neil, Ron Lang, and Austin Heitzman each provided a unique piece of work drawing inspiration from a Frank Lloyd Wright home. In this groundbreaking unedited conversation, hear intense discussion about process and control as an artist, an artist’s ingrained default responses to design, and how to face and wrestle with artistic challenges. For more information on the LAB project, click here.
Julian Voss-Andreae is a modern sculptor of paramount proportions. His work touches on his background in physics and his life growing up in another country–both factors that have tremendously influenced his style and curiosity. From the shape of a bioluminescent protein to quantum physics extrapolated into artistic form, he’s an innovator in the modern art movement. In this episode of Asymmetry, he joined Ryan for a deep dive on sculpture, form, his own work, and how bonsai can occupy a space in modern art.
Mirai Happy Hour
In this episode of Asymmetry, meet the new members of the Mirai team–the folks behind the scenes producing the Mirai Live stream, videos, blog posts, and answering your every email. Ryan & the team sit down for a post-work hangout and discuss first jobs, interests both in and outside bonsai, and generally get to know each other better. We promise you'll learn something new about every member of the team.
Socks, Ceramics, & Augmented Reality
After two cross-country trips together, and several podcasts in between, Ryan and Lime sit down to catch up. They discuss a vast variety of topics, including but not limited to quality socks, a 360 degree view of a tree through an augmented reality headset, Lime’s venture into bonsai ceramics, and more.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with Telperion Farms owner Chris Kirk and his collaborator Gary Woods to dive into the intricacies of field-grown bonsai material. They discuss the nuances of timing, preparing the material before it’s planted in the field, adding movement, pruning while in the field, and generally maximizing the field environment to create the best bonsai material possible. If you have questions about field-grown material or are thinking of cultivating your own bonsai material, this episode is a must-listen.
On this episode of Asymmetry, join Ryan and a group of longtime Mirai students--most recently part of our Advanced Elongating Species class--for a discussion that gets deep into what it means to practice bonsai. This group has a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge in all their chosen endeavors, and this episode digs into the cerebral aspects that each student pulls from their life into their bonsai practice. It’s an instrumental conversation on evolving the idea of what it means to speak bonsai on a higher level, look at bonsai with more mature eyes, and what it means to be a practitioner without the obligations of being a professional.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan dialogues with David Segal, an Australian bonsai professional and longtime friend of Mirai. Their conversation is a powerful one: they tackle the tough questions a bonsai practitioner must ask when looking to use bonsai to represent one’s environment and culture. They discuss Australian bonsai going through growing pains to find its voice, utilizing native species, and the Australian National Bonsai Collection in Canberra’s evolution. Though this episode gets serious, as with any episode of Asymmetry, there’s plenty of laughs shared as well.
Tales from the Covered Wagon: Part Two
In part two of this episode, join Ryan & Lime for the second half of their cross-country journey home from the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY. On this leg of the journey, they stop in Denver to take in a bit of the local bonsai culture. They also cross the Rocky Mountains–the backbone of America–which catalyzes some interesting conversations on the weather, driving for a living, and of course, bonsai.
Tales from the Covered Wagon: Part One
In part one of this two-part episode of Asymmetry, ride along with Ryan & Lime on a cross-country journey coming home to Portland from the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY. They recap the National Exhibition and discuss their thoughts on the show, along with delving into the evolution and future of American and Canadian bonsai.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with Sara Rayner, noted and revered bonsai ceramicist, to discuss the impact her work has had on American bonsai. When she began her ceramics career, her work was considered controversial: her work has a distinctive, strong aesthetic in contrast to quieter, more traditional Japanese work. When you see a Sara Rayner pot, you know it’s a Sara Rayner pot. In this conversation, understand the impact Sara’s work has had not only in the world of ceramics, but in the world of bonsai.
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan sits down with Bill Valavanis, founder of the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition. Bill's bonsai career spans 50 years, with countless publications to his name. Ryan & Bill explore deep questions for the world of bonsai: can traditional forms satiate a practitioner throughout their career? Where is bonsai headed in the United States, and what does that western influence mean for the art form? Where is bonsai headed in the world at large? This is a true meeting of the minds: two artists who have made a career and a life with their bonsai practice, exploring this historic art from different perspectives, and guiding the future of bonsai.
Kendall is a writer, digital producer, and developer for Mirai - the voice behind the Mirai Live cameras asking all your questions. In this podcast, Ryan, Lime, & Kendall chit-chat absurdities.
Longtime student and friend of Mirai Live, Adam Johnson, sits down with Ryan and Lime to get real about their hopes, aspirations, and fears involved in creating and working with living material, the challenges of using trees as a commodity, and how they are incredibly hyped on shinpaku junipers.
Todd Schlafer: Episode Two
Todd Schlafer is a bonsai professional based in Colorado. In this episode of Asymmetry, Todd sits down with Ryan for another podcast in which they discuss the realities of being a practicing bonsai professional in the United States, and how the trees continue to refuel their creative fire.
Advanced Class Bonsai
In this episode of Asymmetry, Ryan engages in a discussion with his advanced class students. This is one of the largest podcast sessions to date, including some of Mirai's longest-standing supporters: Todd Schlafer, Will Kerns, Bill Cadman, and Eric Schikowski. Each of them shares personal anecdotes, their relationships with the practice of bonsai, and experiences with personal mentors.
Ryan & Lime
Ryan and Lime sit down and discuss bonsai, personal inspirations, soccer, and the complexities of life.
Ryan and Lime sit down with long time friend of Mirai and renowned woodworker, Austin Heitzman. In this episode Austin shares some insight into his professional background/practice, intriguing anecdotes, and personal philosophies.
Ryan sits down with the incredibly talented fabricator and friend of Mirai, Oscar Eisenschmidt. Oscar is the designer/fabricator behind the innovative monumental structures present in many of Ryan's exhibitions such as the Artisans Cup, Unbridled, and Spectrum. Oscar shares details about his eclectic background, inspirations and how they have led him to where he is today.
Maliea Chiem is a bonsai professional based in of Portland, Maine. In this podcast, Ryan and Maliea dive into bonsai practice in Maine and explores the value of a strong community to support creative endeavors.
Form 3D Foundry
Ryan sits down with the Rob Arps and his team from Form 3D Foundry. An innovative studio that specializes in large-scale 3D printing, sculpture, 3D scanning, and the integration of modern technologies and traditional methodologies. They discuss Form's approach and process and their personal inspirations within their practice.
Dennis Vojtilla has been cultivating bonsai for over 40 years. He is well known for his deciduous work, and the unique use of grape vines for bonsai. In this podcast, Ryan, Lime & Dennis discuss his approach to bonsai and the complex world of grape-growing.
Vytas Andriuškevičius is a Lithuanian footballer who plays as a left back for the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer. In this podcast, Vytas and the Mirai team dig into life as a professional soccer player, get deep with human design, and Vytas shares his perspective on the world of bonsai.
Bob Laws & Lee Cheatle
Ryan and Lime sit down with two prominent and beloved figures in the world of bonsai, Bob Laws and Lee Cheatle. They discuss their own experiences within bonsai, the origins and development of BSOP (Bonsai Society of Portland), and their personal backgrounds.
Steve and Dan - the Backcountry Boys - are well-known collectors and bonsai lovers from Wyoming. In this podcast, Ryan and the Backcountry Boys talk about their beginnings with bonsai, their ethics around collecting from the wild, and a harrowing tale of being stalked by a mountain lion.
In this podcast, the Mirai team travelled to Israel to meet with Ofer Grunwald, curator of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden’s bonsai collection and a bonsai practitioner himself. We go deep into Israeli bonsai, the world of visual arts, and their relationship with bonsai as an artform as we move forward.
Peter Warren: Episode Two
In this podcast, Peter Warren graces the Mirai team with his presence, wit, and wisdom as we discuss the up's and down's of being a bonsai professional, varying work approaches, and appreciating the bonsai moments that make it all worthwhile.
Aarin Packard is the curator of the Pacific Bonsai Museum, an institution outside of Seattle that is dedicated to providing a space for the public to experience and appreciate the incredible art of bonsai. In this podcast, Ryan, Lime, and Aarin discuss the legacy of PBM, the thoughtful programs on the horizon, and how he, as a curator, continues to creatively advance and showcase the tenants of what has become known as, the 'American Bonsai Movement.'
Jonathan Cross is a sculptor and ceramic artist working out of the small desert community, Twentynine Palms, California. Jonathan's work is known for bold, geometric forms taking cues from science fiction, geology, and a sort of ancient architecture. In this podcast, Ryan and Jonathan sit down to discuss inspirations, the artistic process, and the ceramic body.
Wiring is one of the most important techniques that bonsai practitioners learn. It is a meditative puzzle, a fully immersive practice of being present with your hands, the tree, and the design. In this podcast, Ryan, Troy, and Lime sit down to discuss the struggle and process of wiring - how it forces you to grow as an artist.
Todd Schlafer: Episode One
Todd Schlafer is a musician, graphic designer and bonsai aficionado from the Rockies who recently quit his corporate job to pursue bonsai professionally. As is a long-time friend and student of Mirai - in this podcast, Todd, Ryan and Lime sit down for some real talk on what it truly looks like to pursue bonsai fulltime at a professional, sustainable level.
Randy Knight is a world-renowned yamadori collector hailing from St. Helens, OR. In this podcast, the Mirai team talks with Randy about his origins in bonsai and the collecting process. He shares some wisdom and experiences from over 17 years in the mountains searching for the best wild bonsai material in North America, if not the world.
The Bonsai Vessel
Ryan, Troy, and Lime sit down to discuss the wide world of "the container." They touch on some of their favorite potters/ceramic artists, what it means to truly innovate in the medium as it relates to bonsai, ways they personally experiment when using ceramics, the history of the ceramic form and its relationship with bonsai.
John Yoshio Naka was an American horticulturist, teacher, author, and master bonsai cultivator. He is known as the Father of American Bonsai, spreading the knowledge of this practice to a burgeoning community in the United States. In this podcast, Ryan, Troy, and Lime sit down to discuss John Naka's contribution to the world of bonsai, the path of a beginner practitioner, and continuing the raise the level of American Bonsai practice in Naka's wake.
Ricardo is a Japanese photographer born in Paraguay, schooled at RISD, and now the man behind the videographic magic of Mirai Live. In between wandering through ancient Italian olive orchards and driving along the Amalfi Coast, Ryan and Ricardo take some time to digest the broad concept of ‘art’ - it’s consideration, appreciation, and creation - and then bring it all back to bonsai as the ultimate creative endeavor.
Texas Barbecue & Field Collecting
Colton, Troy, Ryan & Lime take a trip down to one of the best bonsai growing operations in the country, Telperion Farms. We start off with Colton Vick, native Texan and the man behind Mirai operations. They dive into Colton's history, his passion for barbecue, and the Lone Star State. Troy and Lime then dig into the world of field-growing bonsai - how to select the top 10% of material and navigating the 'pyramid' of opportunity.
The Art of Kimura
Masahiko Kimura is one of the most famous bonsai professionals in the world, one who has truly pushed the technique and concept of bonsai as we know it today. In this podcast, Ryan, Troy & Lime sit down in the studio to discuss the history behind Kimura’s most famous works, the dynamics of bonsai in Japan, stories of the apprentices and Kimura’s overall evolution as an artist. Follow along in the book, The Magician: The Bonsai Art of Kimura, to reference the images and trees being discussed.
Michael Lime Allen
The sound engineer for Mirai Live & resident Timbers enthusiast, Lime is one of the most colorful personalities on the Mirai Team. In this podcast, Lime & Ryan talk big-wall climbing in Yosemite, the life of a nuclear engineer in the Navy & how bonsai has the power to change lives.
A Trip to California
The Mirai team recaps from a recent trip down to California where they visited the most ancient trees on the planet, witnessed avant-garde ceramic artist, Jonathan Cross, wood-firing his kiln, and scrambled through the otherworldly landscape of Joshua Tree.
Ron Lang is a celebrated ceramic artist, sculptor, and long-time bonsai geek who has a unique perspective on the bonsai vessel. The team sits down with Lang for a heated breakdown on what makes a bonsai a bonsai, and pushing limits with the ceramic body.
Juan Andrade is a bonsai professional hailing originally from Costa Rica, now based in Florida, who recently finished a bonsai apprenticeship in Japan. In this episode, the Mirai crew discusses Andrade's roots with bonsai - his apprenticeship, collecting epiphytes in the Costa Rican jungle, and where he thinks bonsai is headed.
Peter Warren: Episode One
Peter Warren joins the Mirai team in the studio for an unfiltered discussion on bonsai in the UK, why suiseki isn't just 'rocks' and how bonsai explains universal physics.
The Story Behind Bonsai Mirai
In this inaugural podcast, we dive into the history behind the creation of Bonsai Mirai, and the core players that make this business happen. This is the first of many podcasts to come, where guests from all over the world will gather to explore the medium of bonsai as an avenue to connect nature, culture, and the individual.