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A Tribute to George Tanaka, 1985-87

A series of canvases honouring landscape architect George Tanaka who imbued his gardens with the spiritual spontaneity of the Canadian landscape. A "Nisei", Tanaka was a pioneer in Canadian human and civil rights, Chairman of the Japanese Canadian Democratic Committee which lobbied successfully for removal in 1948 of 29 Federal and Provincial regulations discriminating against Japanese Canadians. George Tanaka and his wife Cana (named after Canada) died in 1982 in a tragic car accident.

Robertson Galleries, Ottawa 1987
The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, Toronto 1988

Tanaka's gardens are finely crafted evidence that Canada too can be a garden. Jerry Grey's paintings bring close the possibility that man's hand in the landscape can reflect Canadian tastes and cultural values and demonstrate how Canadians now relate to their environment in the late Twentieth Century.
- Angela Marcus, Artpost, Fall, 1987


Gardens A Tribute to George Tanaka
by Joy Kogawa

green and breath and

spring again this


within our garden

and your dreams


within the rootlets of

our Canadian history

moving still

imperceptibly down

to the naked sea

where, in our heart's ease

you swim

strong glider of the deep

faithful gardener