Fort Worth receives public art gift from Japan

City of Fort Worth TexasTwo contemporary paintings, — Girl Scout Nichibei Yuko-no Kizuna (The Friendship Bond of US-Japan Girl Scouts) — are now on permanent display at the Fort Worth Central Library. The paintings by Japanese artist Hiroko Tanaka, rendered in acrylic paint, oil paint, gold leaf and silver leaf, were previously exhibited at the Ueno Metropolitan Museum in Tokyo.

Tanaka’s paintings were inspired by the U.S.-Japan Girl Scout Friendship Statue erected in Yokohama, Japan, in 1962 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Girl Scouting in the U.S. and to welcome back Girl Scouts of Japan to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts following World War II.

Libby Watson, a retired Fort Worth assistant city manager, was one of the young Girl Scouts who modeled for the bronze statue in 1962, along with Japanese Girl Scout Hiroko Tanaka, who grew up to become a recognized artist.

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After Watson and Tanaka were reunited in 2014 at a rededication of the Yokohama Girl Scout statue, artist Tanaka hoped that the paintings would eventually be displayed in Fort Worth.

“Just as Girl Scouts in Japan visit the statue to celebrate the international friendship that scouting builds, Hiroko wanted the paintings to be displayed in Fort Worth where Girl Scouts and others would be free to visit them and consider the importance of international friendship to our world,” said Becky Burton, CEO of Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains.

In September 2015, upon recommendation of the Fort Worth Art Commission’s Gift and Loans Committee, the Fort Worth City Council voted to accept the donation of the artwork, as well as appropriate public art funds to cover transportation and installation of the paintings.

“These original works of art support the Fort Worth Public Art Master Plan, which strives to make public art inclusive of all cultures and histories,” said Jennifer Casler Price, vice chair of the Fort Worth Art Commission.

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