March 6, 2018
Introducing the LAB
First-of-its-kind collaboration to shake up the art of bonsai
Read more

Pacific Bonsai Museum’s LAB (Living Art of Bonsai) is an experimental collaborative for bonsai design innovation.

This multiyear endeavor kicks off in 2018 with its inaugural LAB project investigating sequence. The project will reimagine traditional bonsai practices by resequencing the order of influence between the bonsai artist, ceramicist, and standmaker.

Rather than starting with a styled tree and asking both the pot and the standmaker to respond to it (as is traditionally practiced), the LAB asks: what if the stand comes first?; or the pot?; where can these makers take the art of bonsai if they allow themselves to influenced by each other in an entirely new way?

The LAB is a multi-year project consisting of collaborative working sessions and presentation sessions that will produce three, one-of-a-kind works of living art. These works will be created (in some portions, before a live audience) and revealed to patrons of the project through gatherings both live and online. All members of the design team will be present for each gathering to answer audience questions and discuss their work philosophies and design decisions in detail.



The 2018 inaugural LAB design team will include three renowned artisans and a facilitator:

Standmaker: Austin Heitzman, Austin Heitzman Furniture, Portland, OR

Ceramic Artist: Ron Lang, Lang Bonsai Containers, Southport, NC

Bonsai Artist: Ryan Neil, Bonsai Mirai, St. Helens, OR

Facilitator:  Aarin Packard, Curator, Pacific Bonsai Museum, Federal Way, WA



The project kicks off in 2018 and continues through 2020. The artists will each work in their respective studios and then come together in presentation sessions scheduled as follows:

Session I August 5, 2018 at the Chauncey L. and Johanna Griggs Residence, Lakewood, Washington; home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Session II March 2019 (day and location TBA)

Session III August 4-5, 2019 (location TBA)

Session IV Reveal & Artist’s Reflection (date and location TBA)



A three minute video trailer to the forthcoming documentary is available for viewing and sharing here:

An episodic documentary of the LAB project will feature excerpts from each LAB Session and in-process interviews with the artists while they work. Episodes will be released on at a time starting after the first LAB session (August 2018).



In addition to following the project on social media (@pacificbonsaimuseum), the public may become involved with the project as patrons. The Museum is currently seeking individuals and organizations who would like to support the project financially and, as a thank you, be invited to attend live styling sessions among other benefits. Benefits and patrons levels are detailed in full:



Pacific Bonsai Museum connects people to nature through the living art of bonsai. Fifty to 60 of the Museum’s 150 bonsai are displayed at any given time in an outdoor fine art museum setting in the open air of a large forest in Federal Way, Washington. Pacific Bonsai Museum is one of only a handful of public museums in the world solely dedicated to bonsai and the only one in the western United States. Offering contemporary exhibitions, docent-led group tours, education, workshops and more, with a flair for PNW-style innovation, the Pacific Bonsai Museum is poised at the forefront of an evolving art form that is transforming in a uniquely American fashion. 33,000+ people from across the globe visit the museum each year, with visitorship growing as people discover this gem of the Pacific Northwest. Open six days a week, year-round; admission by donation. More at:



Austin Heitzman’s interest in bonsai lead him to pursue woodworking and then furniture making, so it was only fitting that he would apply skills and knowledge as a furniture maker in the production of bonsai stands. Heitzman is exacting about the materials he uses. He sources lumber from salvaged city trees, seeking out lumber with the most exceptional and interesting qualities. His chosen trees are milled locally on a farm in the Columbia River Gorge, and then left to air dry for several years. This labor-intensive but ecologically sustainable process ensures the integrity of the wood , produces the most vivid colors, saves trees from the wood chipper, and gives them new life as heirloom furniture. More at:





Ron Lang is a renowned bonsai potter based in North Carolina. He began working with clay in 1971 and for 30 years served as the Chairman of the Ceramics Department at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. He has a background in sculptural ceramics and is now primarily focusing on bonsai pottery. More at:



Ryan Neil is a bonsai professional, visual artist, and entrepreneur who is redefining the world’s understanding of bonsai from a technical hobby to a fine art medium. His approach reflects the interdependent relationships between nature, culture, and the individual. In 2010, Ryan founded Bonsai Mirai. Throughout the last 8 years, Mirai has developed into an incubator, school, and full-service nursery that is at the very forefront of the Western bonsai movement. More at: and



Aarin Packard is the Curator of Pacific Bonsai Museum in Federal Way, WA.  Aarin received his MA in Museum Studies from the George Washington University. In 2006, Aarin was hired as the assistant curator of The National Bonsai and Penjing at The U.S. National Arboretum in Washington D.C. before joining Pacific Bonsai Museum in 2014. As the Museum’s Curator, Aarin oversees the horticultural and artistic care of the bonsai collection and creates new exhibits that honor the tradition of bonsai while advancing the art form in the 21st century.



Frank Lloyd Wright–honored by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time”–began designing a home for the Griggs family in 1945 set within dense fir forest near Chambers Creek in Lakewood, WA. This 5,000 square-feet, “Usonian” style home features soaring ceilings, concrete block wall construction, double clerestory windows, and long, cedar trusses holding up a cantilevered roof extending 14 feet past a glass wall over a terrace towards the creek. Construction began on the project in 1946 but work was halted. Tacoma architect Alan Liddle was commissioned to act as supervising architect to continue the project, which was completed in 1954. Current owners Mark and Phyllis Griggs generously agreed to open up their landmark home to artists and patrons of the LAB as the setting for the first live bonsai styling session on August 5, 2018.

November 27, 2017
Begin Winter Attuned to Nature with Living Art at the 4th annual A Bonsai Solstice
Take in a big breath of fresh air and enjoy the unique beauty of the bonsai illuminated by serene candlelight.
Read more
A Bonsai Solstice is back! The Pacific Bonsai Museum welcomes the public to enjoy the collection by candlelight.

To add to the meditative atmosphere, world-renowned Native American Flute artist Gary Stroutsos will join us as a special guest artist this year.

We invite guests to BYOF (Bring-Your-Own-Flashlight) and sip a cup of hot cocoa or coffee compliments of Caffé D’arte. P&J’s Waffle Delights Food Truck will be onsite for those who’d like to treat themselves to a sweet or savory waffle dinner.

This event is kid-friendly. Admission to the event is free (donations to support the museum are always much appreciated). For those who would like to make a ritual of it, commemorative votives will be available with a $5 donation.

Sunday, December 17 from 4pm – 7pm

The Pacific Bonsai Museum is located on the campus of the former Weyerhaeuser headquarters at 2515 S 336th Street, Federal Way, WA 98001.

Free parking is available across from the Museum (follow signs to ‘Garden Parking’); handicapped parking is available at the museum entrance.

Caffé D’arte

The public can call the Museum with any questions in advance at (252) 353-7345 or email Liz Sullivan,

The Pacific Bonsai Museum connects people to nature through living art. Fifty of the Museum’s 150 bonsai are displayed at any given time in an outdoor, fine-art-museum-setting in the open air of a large forest in Federal Way, Washington. The Museum is poised at the forefront of an evolving art form that is transforming in a uniquely American fashion. Approximately 35,000 people from across the globe visit the museum each year, with visitorship growing as people discover this gem of the Pacific Northwest. Admission by donation. Learn more at:

Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 4pm. The Museum is closed every Monday, as well as Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

Gary Stroutsos is a world flute artist and storyteller with a mission of promoting stewardship of diverse cultures and the natural environment. Each of Gary’s meditative, solo, Native American flute performances given over the course of his 35-year career is distinct, drawn from the inspiration of the space and the audience. More at


Katherine Wimble Fox
o:  (253) 353-7345