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Giant Robot, others join Japan quake relief efforts

The Giant Robot store sign on Sawtelle Boulevard, September 2006
The Giant Robot store sign on Sawtelle Boulevard, September 2006
Photo by misocrazy/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Asian American pop culture emporium Giant Robot has added its name to a growing list of businesses and Japanese American groups in Los Angeles who are mounting efforts to raise money for earthquake relief in Japan.

The franchise, which owns galleries, a restaurant and shops in L.A. and San Francisco, has teamed up with UNICEF to raise funds via an art show at its GR2 store in West Los Angeles, which among other things sells Japanese toys, comic books, magazines and art.

The opening reception is Saturday night. The "Water Works" art show, planned prior to last Friday's devastating 9 magnitude quake in northeastern Japan, was to have promoted UNICEF’s mission to provide clean drinking water to children around the world. The event has now been re-engineered for quake and tsunami relief.

KPCC's Brian Watt spoke with Giant Robot's director of retail operations, Michelle Borok:

"We had artwork in the show that was themed on water and so artists had created all kinds of images," Michelle Borok says. "Clean water is now an issue in Japan as well. So the focus hasn’t changed. It’s about going directly to the source where there’s an immediate need.

Many of the participating artists will donate proceeds from their sales to UNICEF. GR2 is at 2062 Sawtelle Boulevard, (310) 478-1819.

Giant Robot, which began as a pop culture magazine started by UCLA graduates Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong in 1994, is one of a growing number of businesses and organizations in L.A. pitching in on relief efforts. Japanese American cultural and business groups have started their own relief funds, and the local Japanese daily newspaper Rafu Shimpo and Asian-language station LA 18 co-sponsored a drive-through fundraiser downtown yesterday with the American Red Cross.

KCET has a list of upcoming fundraising events that range from a restaurant fundraiser tonight in Little Tokyo and candlelight vigil Sunday night to a disaster relief comedy show in Arcadia next weekend.

The multilingual website Discover Nikkei has a Twitter feed on its front page with updates on quake relief efforts being organized around the United States.