Arthur Joura is the Curator of Bonsai for the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville and is the chief engineer and moving force behind the annual Carolina Bonsai Expo, the premier bonsai event in the southeastern US. Each year for more than a decade and a half, Mr. Joura has appeared as a guest speaker and artist before our club and for many of the other clubs in the Carolinas. We never know exactly what his program is going to be about until shortly before he arrives, but what we can tell you is that, no matter what Arthur chooses to bring before our club, it is guaranteed to be both entertaining, informative and often thought provoking. Mr. Joura has a unique approach and a unique philosophy of bonsai which often makes him controversial and always makes him a refreshing pleasure to hear. He is an accomplished artist, not only of bonsai, but on canvass and in any other medium he chooses to work in. Mr. Joura believes strongly in an American approach to the art and in the use of native plant materials. Arthur Joura is the Curator of Bonsai for the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville and is the chief engineer and moving forces behind the annual Carolina Bonsai Expo, the premier bonsai event in the southeastern US. Mr. Joura has been the bonsai Collection curator at the NC Arboretum since the collection's beginning in 1992. Joura was selected to learn about and manage the collection because of his extensive education and talent in art, as well as his growing interest in horticulture. His credentials tell it all: School of Visual Arts and The Art Student's League in New York City.
One of Mr Joura’s first assignments was to attend the 1993 Second World Bonsai Convention in Orlando, Florida. He trained at the National Arboretum’s Bonsai and Penjing Museum, in a study experience with the Nippon Bonsai Association, and in New York State as the last student of Japanese-born and classically trained Yuji Yoshimura, before he died in 1997. Today, Joura manages the bonsai collection, probably the largest of its kind in America and certainly the finest collection in the Southeast, at the stunning North Carolina Arboretum, affiliated with the University of North Carolina. Over the past decade, Joura has built the bonsai program, which originated with a donation of 100 bonsai from a family in Butner, N.C., into a nationally recognized collection and the arboretum's strongest component. In the years that have followed, Arthur has built the collection and program into one of the best in the U.S. through acquisition of gift specimens as well as through crafting his own specimens.
Mr. Joura has developed a special interest in the use of native species for bonsai and the artful display of bonsai in American environments. He has been our featured speaker and workshop artist in June of 2014 MBS meeting. This statement can sum up Joura's bonsai philosophy: "At its best, bonsai is living art, expressing in miniature an experience of nature." In his development of the Arboretum's collection (which now numbers over 200 specimens, plus many others in production), Joura constantly seeks to forge connections between the art of bonsai and the Arboretum's mission to promote appreciation of the flora and culture of the Southern Appalachians. He has introduced to bonsai culture more than 50 different species native to western North Carolina, and created several tray landscapes depicting well-known natural sites of the region. Perhaps of even greater significance, the model for the Arboretum's bonsai plantings as Joura styles them is not the bonsai depicted in books and magazines, but rather the example of nature as represented by the wild trees of the forests and mountain tops of the Blue Ridge region. Joura feels that this is a return to the roots of bonsai as an artistic expression, not of a certain culture, but of an individual’s experience of the natural world around them.
Mr. Joura will soon be a returning artist watch for signs on the website.