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Earthquake & Tsunami Art Relief

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New Emissary

Earthquake & Tsunami Art Relief

Gallerists and museums around the world come up with creative ways to help the victims of the Japan disaster.

One group you can really count on in times of crisis is people in the art world.

Just minutes after we experienced the biggest earthquake in Japan's history, my mailbox started filling up with notes from artists, friends and clients inquiring not only about me, but about the gallery. Thankfully, we’re fine and the gallery suffered very little damage. It's pretty much the same situation for all of the galleries in Tokyo. So although it’s sometimes easy to criticize the huge mountain of rules applying to everything here in Japan, the building codes ensured that the buildings in Tokyo were safe. 

But the need for funds in the areas impacted by the tsunami and artists is immense and will continue for many years. Gallerists and museums have jumped right in with different creative ways to raise money.  Here are a few that I know about.

New York-based art gallerist Jen Bekman’s 20 x 200, an online art shop, is now featuring two special edition ‘Japan Benefit Prints’ to help raise relief funds for the victims.  One is by photographer Emily Shur, who’s been working in Japan since 2004, and the other is by Joe Holmes who had just returned from Japan before the disaster struck.  20 x 200's slogan is ‘Art Doesn't Have to Be Expensive,’ and you can buy one of these works online starting at just $20 for an 8”x10” print. It's a perfect way to start collecting art and do some good.  All net proceeds will be donated to the Japan Society Earthquake Fund.

Self-Portrait by Wang Yi Fei


Robert Fornell, a top notch ceramicist based in Seattle, has spent the last week putting together a silent auction of artists’ work. In collaboration with many other artists and Stefano Catalani of the Bellevue Art Museum, the event will take place at the museum on Friday March 25, 2011.  Drop by if you're nearby and if you have friends in the area, and let them know about the event. I’ve seen Robert's works and they rank with some of the most skilled ceramicists here in Japan.  

You can find out more by contacting Robert Fornell via his Facebook profile or through his home page where you can see examples of his work as well.  

In Tokyo, Zen Foto gallery, run by Mark Pearson and Amanda Lo, will hold a photograph event and auction this weekend. Artists can either send or bring a photo to the gallery by March 26, 2011, set a price between 5,000 and 50,000 yen ($60 to $600) and all sale proceeds will go to support Tohoku relief charities. On the final day of the event, March 27, remaining works will be auctioned off at prices beginning at 1,000 yen ($12).  For more information, you can email Amanda at: [email protected]

Kosin Bootneam


Finally our gallery, the Tobin Ohashi Gallery in the Nihonbashi area of Tokyo, is currently holding a benefit to raise funds for Japan earthquake and tsunami relief that will run through March 27.  Fifty percent of the sales of prints, drawings and selected paintings will be donated in equal parts to the Japan Red Cross and Second Harvest Japan. We have works from American, Thai, Chinese and Japanese artists and prices will start at 10,000 yen.  You can see examples from the artists at and  If you see something you like on these websites, please contact me via email at [email protected] and I will inform you on availability and pricing. We can ship worldwide. If you're in the Tokyo area, please drop by and add to your collection and support those who have been so terribly affected by these tragic events.

I thank everyone for their continued good wishes and concern for us and the people of Japan.


Images: Imperial Palace Gardens with Wall, Tokyo by Emily Shur (top).

Work by Kosin Bootneam (middle) and Self Portrait by Wang Yi Fei (bottom), courtesy of the Tobin Ohashi gallery, contact Robert Tobin at [email protected] for inquiries.