Artists converge for Japan disaster relief

March 31, 2011 | 7:49 p.m.

Art by Daisuke "Dice" Tsutsumi

Works by artists from Pixar, LucasFilm, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon and other studios will be sold at a benefit Saturday in San Francisco to raise funds for Japan disaster relief. The auction is part of the One (Hitoshi) campaign, a series of artist-driven events that will also be held in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Toronto.

The impetus for these benefits comes from Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi, an art director at Pixar whose work includes “Toy Story 3.” Tsutsumi has helped gather artists for worthwhile causes before: In 2008, he organized a sale of work by scores of animators and illustrators for the Totoro Forest Project that helped to protect the Sayama Forest — the inspiration for the setting of Hayao Miyazaki’s beloved film “My Neighbor Totoro.”

Tsutsumi and French illustrator Gerald Guerlais are finishing the Sketch Travel Project, a collection of work by 70 animators, illustrators and comic book artists that will aid the literacy charity Room to Read. But the need to help victims of the disaster in northern Japan is more immediate — and personal.

“Our community has a history of doing charity events,” Tsutsumi explained in a telephone interview. “I hadn’t realized it, but we did most of the previous events for fun. The Sketch Travel Project began as a group of artists who are friends sharing a sketchbook. It became a benefit after we started. But when the earthquake and tsunami struck my home country, I felt a need to do something right away. Experience from the past events enabled us organize something quickly.”

Tsutsumi created Artists Help Japan, which has already raised more than $40,000 and is partnering with the nonprofits Give2Asia and Merci Corps. When he began to put together the San Francisco event, Seiji Horibuchi offered the upscale Frog Gallery space in Japantown as the venue.  Sho Murase and Vaughn Ross of Maverix Studios took over coordinating the event.

Art by Tsutsumi, Ronnie Del Carmen, Patrick Awa, Kent Williams and more will be on display starting at noon Saturday at the Frog Gallery in the New People Complex at 1746 Post Street, San Francisco. A party and silent auction begin at 7 p.m., followed by a live aution at 9:30.

– Charles Solomon

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