Suiseki and gongshi—in Oakland?


Sunday I visited the Garden Center in Lakeside Park, including the bonsai garden, an attraction not to be missed. This large gongshi stone ushers you toward the entrance. The photo is from 2005 (click full size), because at the moment the stone has a wire around its waist holding up a small tree. It reminded me too much of a leashed animal, and I hope they remove it soon. Gongshi stones generally come from China, where the art form arose many centuries ago. This one is a white, deformed crystalline limestone that weathered and eroded into its arresting shape. Inside the bonsai garden there are several interesting California stones in various places. They are not quite suiseki, merely decorative rocks. This is a suiseki:

suiseki by lance plaza

It was collected in California and mounted in its wooden daiza by Lance Plaza for the 2006 suiseki show, in the Garden Center. I’ve enjoyed several of these annual events, but for some reason missed this year’s. Had I gone to San Francisco instead, that very afternoon I could have seen the annual show of the San Francisco suiseki society. But Oakland has a goodly share of suiseki artists, including the bloggers Mas Nakajima and Janet Roth.

These art forms are a braintwister for geologists. We tend to dwell on what the stone says rather than what it is—or is that the other way around?

One Response to “Suiseki and gongshi—in Oakland?

  1. Andrew Says:

    The 2011 suiseki show is this weekend. See Felix Rivera’s website for details.

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