Pali Library Hosts Bonsai Master

Master bonsai artist, Frank Goya will be giving a demonstration of his work at the Palisades Branch Library on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 1 p.m. Goya has been a bonsai artist for over 50 years. He is known all over the world, and is considered to be one of the top five bonsai artists in the United States. His work is displayed in many places, including the Huntington Gardens. He became a bonsai teacher (sensei), and at 90 is still teaching bonsai at the Venice Japanese Community Center.

In addition to his work in traditional bonsai, Goya is considered to be the “dean” of an offshoot of bonsai called “saikei.” His saikeis consist of bonsai trees that he has created, along with other plants, rocks and groundcover, all of which represent a scene from nature.

Goya knows that not everyone can travel to faraway places to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of natural scenery. However, he reminds us that everyone can enjoy the serenity of nature in his or her own backyard, especially if they own bonsai trees or saikeis. When you look at these magical works of art, you can’t help but be transported to a special spot of nature, complete with trees, hills, mountains, and rivers.

His demonstration at the library on Saturday will show how a saikei is created. When he is finished, this wonderful piece of living art will be raffled off. The funds will go to the library.

In addition to being a unique artist, he is a very interesting man with a fascinating history. He was born in California, but because of the unfortunate government policy towards Japanese-Americans during World War II, he spent three years in an internment camp. Immediately after the War, he served honorably in the United States Army for three years. Then he returned to Los Angeles where he worked as a professional gardener and started to learn about bonsai and saikei.

In an ironic but appropriate turn-around, this man who was sent to an internment camp by the United States government over seventy years ago was honored by the United States last year when the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. asked him to donate one of his saikeis. It is now on permanent display there.