The cultural gap between two sister cities will be bridged a bit more this fall with the Worthington-Sayama Arts Exchange.
Fifty-six pieces of art done by members of the Worthington Area Art League (WAAL) will be shipped to Sayama, Japan, where they will hang in two separate exhibits from Nov. 25 to Dec. 27. The juried pieces currently are on display at Worthington's McConnell Arts Center (MAC).
On the other end, Sayama's two arts organizations have selected 54 pieces done by their members. Their art will be shipped to Worthington to hang at the MAC from Oct. 25 through the end of the year.
Planning for the huge undertaking has been ongoing for two years and was made possible by a $45,000 grant from PNC Bank.
Bill Westerman, immediate past president of WAAL, and Jon Cook, MAC director, have worked to pull together the exchanges and exhibits.
Westerman and Cook will make two trips to Japan. On the first, they will check out the venues for the showing of the Worthington art. The exhibit first will hang in the Citizens Exchange Center, which is a recent addition to a suburban Tokyo train station, and then at Sayama City Hall.
The two will return in November to unpack, reframe and hang the 56 pieces of art, which will be shipped flat and without frames.
The art exchange is not part of the biannual trip of Worthington residents to Sayama. That trip will occur in late October.
"We wanted to keep it separate from the formal visit," Cook said. "I wanted it to be about the artists."
Etsuko Saneyoshi, president of the Sayama International Friendship Association, and the presidents of the two arts organizations that are sending collections will visit Worthington in October. They will attend the opening at the MAC on Oct. 25, will talk about the arts with community members and will visit central Ohio art museums and galleries.
"We in Worthington haven't had an opportunity to talk about arts and culture from another cultural perspective," Cook said.
Westerman has been to Japan 21 times, including trips to judge art. He also is on the board of the Worthington International Friendship Association, which keeps up the relationship between the two sister cities.
He said he is excited about the opportunities the exchange would provide to people on both sides of the globe.
"A cultural art exchange is a way of showing how very similar people are," he said.