Wednesday, March 11, 2015


…..for Ralph Komai’s parents who are no longer with us.  They were Southern California pioneers in Bonsai and the Japanese Bonsai Garden at the Huntington Botanical Gardens would scarcely exist without them.

To honor Kay and Khan Komai, a memorial bench had been donated to the Bonsai area by the Baikoen Bonsai Kenkyukai, the California Bonsai Society and the Santa Anita Bonsai Society.  Ralph had not yet seen it and so after Brush painting class today, Danielle Rudeen, Jim Folsom’s top #1 assistant directed us (in my car) to the Japanese Garden.  It was a beautiful ride and even more so when we arrived and saw the Azaleas and Cherry Trees blooming.

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Along the way we met Robert Hori, the Gardens Cultural Curator and Program Director.  You may remember I blogged some time back about Robert taking Ann Richardson and myself on a fascinating tour of the authentic Japanese Tea House a portion of which is visible here.

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 It was great fun seeing Robert again and of course you all know how dear to my heart Danielle is…..she has been my angel through the years of teaching Brush painting at the Huntington.  We always laugh about the Botanical staff being in trailers when we first met and my classes were held in the ‘Garage’ which is now the Boone Gallery!

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On we went to the Bonsai area….Danielle is leading the way to the commemorative bench.

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Approaching closer….

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I was so moved when I saw it and can’t begin to imagine the pride and sentiment that Ralph felt.

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The natural stone is so exquisite and the way the pieces are placed it’s such an integral part of the area that it takes on a timeless feel.IMG 6045

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IMG 6048How wonderful to have had this quiet and moving viewing.

May your life be filled with precious memories.

1 comment:

Karen Margolis said...

Thank you so much for writing about Ralph's (and our brothers' and my) parents' stone bench in the bonsai court, a tribute to their devotion and dedication to the art of bonsai. I live nearby and have had the pleasure of sitting on the bench and looking at the "mame" (miniature) bonsai across the way. The Komai family is thrilled by this wonderful honor, and we know that our parents would be moved by the peaceful zen quality of the natural stone surrounded by the bonsai trees that they loved so much.
Karen Komai Margolis


There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.