The donor: Tony Girardin
The gift: Founding the Go-Somewhere! Japanese Art Tour
The reason: To promote Japanese art in Canada
A few years ago, Tony Girardin was on a world tour promoting his documentary about a Montreal bicycle maker, Marinoni: The Fire in the Frame, when he made a stop at a film festival in Nasu, Japan.
Mr. Girardin, who was born and raised in Montreal, had never been to Japan and was mesmerized. “I’ve never lived such a special experience in my life,” he recalled from his home in Montreal. “It was just beyond words.”
The film festival was held in association with a local art gallery, and Mr. Girardin got to know some of the artists. Over time the connections strengthened, and after a couple more trips to Japan he invited five artists to visit Canada to show their work.
The event, the Go-Somewhere! Japanese Art Tour, has been under way for most of the summer, with stops in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Tadoussac, Que., Wakefield, Que., and Almonte, Ont. The artists are painters Tomoko Aso and Akiko Takeuchi, along with print maker Kurumi Wakaki, folk artist Mami Yonekura and silversmith Tsubomi Yonekura. None of them had been to Canada before or shown their work outside Asia.
Mr. Girardin received some financial support from the Japanese embassy, but he has covered most of the expenses. “It’s been a good year for me and I’m footing the bill,” he said, adding that the artists have been working in a Montreal studio between exhibits.
He said the tour is winding down this week and has been a big success. “When you are told that these people are happier than they have ever been in their lives, it’s totally worth it,” he said.