Heart + Hands: Notes of gratitude from The Artisans Cup

In the months since The Artisans Cup, we've received an amazing amount of correspondence from people who took part in the exhibition. We are humbled by your stories and well wishes. Here are a few that touched our hearts:

Paul Pikel, The Artisans Cup, Exhibitor

From:    Daniel Meyers, AIA (Skylab Architecture, Design Director)
To:        The Artisans Cup

Chelsea, Ryan -

I wanted to send along a quick note, on behalf of the entire team here at Skylab, expressing our deep gratitude for the opportunity to be involved in The Artisans Cup, and to congratulate you on what was, by any measure a massive success. 

Your vision and commitment were on display this weekend. You set an example for anyone with a dream, and you should feel very, very proud. Thank you so much for bringing us along for the ride, and here's to the future!


 Lee Cheatle, Bonsai Society of Portland,  President

Lee Cheatle, Bonsai Society of Portland, President

From:     Kathy McCabe (Pacific Bonsai Museum, Executive Director)
To:         The Artisans Cup

When I think of you, I think of this quote:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”  ~ W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951

Not only did you dream big, you took action, created community and moved mountains--you changed the world--all with a smile and tremendous gratitude. Thank you for leading, pushing the American bonsai movement forward and for being a true friend of Pacific Bonsai Museum. I feel honored to have participated in the inaugural Artisans Cup.
With great respect and admiration,


From:    David DeGroot (The Artisans Cup, Judge)
To:        The Artisans Cup

Ryan and Chelsea,

Congratulations on conceiving and creating and event of outstanding quality in every way!  I am sure you have created a mechanism that will in fact encourage the growth of quality and creativity in American bonsai, and that with your diligence and perseverance will allow you to realize your dream.

On a personal note, I very much appreciate your hospitality and consideration during my stay. I can’t think of how you could have done anything more to make us judges feel welcome. 

Thanks for all your work, and your commitment to quality in all things.


 Karen Harkaway, American Bonsai Society,  President    

Karen Harkaway, American Bonsai Society, President


From:    Jeff Donaldson-Forbes (Portland Art Museum, Event Coordinator)
To:        The Artisans Cup

Hi Ryan, Chelsea, Brinn & Connie:

It was a remarkable event—your team was top-notch and it was a beautiful experience; I certainly hope you received good feedback because it was extremely well-executed and a pleasure to work with all of you.  Much as I understood what you hoped to do in terms of transforming the space into a custom exhibit, it was still incredibly dramatic to take it all in and wonderful to see how beautiful the overall effect was when it was fully installed.

My partner Greg was in hog-heaven and completely bonsai-geeked out during his volunteer shift (and beyond) so thanks for looping him in on that front.

I’ll hope the opportunity to work with you again comes up at some point—whether here at the Museum or somewhere else—it truly was a pleasure.

Jeff Donaldson-Forbes

From:    Ryan & Chelsea Neil (The Artisans Cup, Founders)
To:        120+ volunteers & creative team members

Dear Volunteers & Creative Team Members,

It’s been two weeks since The Artisans Cup, and we are still reeling from the excitement and the rigor of that experience. We’ve been reflecting on all the components of the show, and what made it so special. What we keep coming back to is that the highlights center around the connections and bonds we made with our community to bring the exhibition to life. That is what made it so spectacular. 

What began as a dream for me, evolved into a collaboration with Chelsea and our creative team, and then developed into a full-on community-engaging vision. We know some of you spent hours working alongside us, carrying heavy things, doing trivial tasks, moving priceless trees, directing thousands of visitors, loading and unloading, speaking on panel discussions, etc. We saw your sweat and exhaustion setting in after days of unrelenting work, and we saw your smiles shine through all of it. 

Thank you, each and every one of you, for your personal investment in The Artisans Cup, however large or small. Thank you for taking time out of your own busy lives to work with us. We quite literally couldn’t have done it without you, and we will be forever grateful to you for what you contributed to the exhibition.  We hope you look back on that magical weekend with good memories and gratitude for the experience of seeing what passion, hard work, and collective heart can evoke. 

We appreciate you! 
Ryan & Chelsea