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RE: Aquascaping - Regional vs International

Nick wrote:

"I also think that a lot of people are not entering these AGA and ADA
contests because of the fear factor that there aquascape does not
conform to the norm. I think one would see a greater participation in
these events if they were held at a more regional level within the US,
baring international competition. It would allow an "American style(s)
to evolve, and one thing is for sure. We are not known to be a country
of copy cats."

Mmmmmmm, neither are Americans thought of as a bunch of whiney wimps who
can't handle International competition - which is exactly what you are
advocating here. The "International" character of the AGA event was
important right from the beginning. One thing that this hobby does is cross
barriers between people, and one of those barriers is the normal border
between countries. I'm a Canadian ('eh), NOT an American, yet I can have
just as much of an interest in aquariums as you can. That goes equally for
our fellow hobbyists in Peru, Australia, Singapore, India, Greece, Great
Britain, and any other geo-political area you might care to mention.

While differences in approach might be seen in aquacapes popular in
different areas, it is MUCH more important to look at the similarities which
draw us together, regardless of which flag we salute. Again, it comes down
to my idea that an event such as the AGA Showcase/Contest is about SHARING
our love of the hobby with others.

The subject of "regional" shows did come up during our initial planning. It
was discussed as sort of a "preamble" to the main event where physical tanks
would be assembled in various locations and judged in person. The logistics
of such a project are frightening - do you really think that many people are
going to lug an aquarium a few hundred miles to a regional event, set it up,
plant it, have it judged and then break it down again for the trip home?

The "fear factor" is much more likely when you bring "HIGH ART" into the
discussion. If potential entrants ever get the idea that their aquascapes
have to be "ART" before they stand a chance, you would see the number of
entries dwindle to a trickle. You can get as "tony" as you'd like, but I'm
afraid that you would find yourself playing to an empty room.

While I appreciate ART, I am not impressed by snobbery. An event such as the
AGA Showcase/Contest is about sharing your own efforts and achievements in a
friendly environment, not a cut-throat competition to see how closely anyone
can mimic Amano or a Dutch aquascape. Individuality and self expression are
the keys.

I did (and contine to) hope that over time, the general quality level of
aquascaping can be improved through events such as the AGA Showcase/Contest.
Our insistence on having multiple images of the same tank as well as a plant
list and planting plan gives viewers a bit of background to enable them to
decide for themselves what works and what doesn't. Exposure to "ART" can
often rub off in our own efforts. Post-event discussions of the merits and
faults of the individual entries can help everyone improve their own "next
effort". Discussing the "ART" of aquascaping on a list such as this is
valuable, helpful and can potentially also raise the general level of
aquascaping but don't try to impose "high-brow" pretensions on other people
in the forum of the AGA Showcase/Contest, they will merely switch off.

Now, if a group of you ever get the idea that the AGA Showcase/Contest is
too "low brow" to be "worthy" of you bothing to enter your "masterpiece",
that might deprive the rest of us from seeing how good you really are (yea,
sure, yep!), but I hope that it was set up, carried out and continues as a
friendly arena which is open to ALL.

James Purchase