Saturday, February 04, 2017

Life Underground

On a cold day in January I stayed for hours in the Subway tunnels, changing trains 5 or 6 times and making sketches of the Subway People. I think this time in New York more than ever I have taken a real interest in drawing people, an art I have drifted away from since 2010 or about.
A man in the train, three people seated at a table in a bookstore cafe, people strolling down a busy street, a friend in his living room, a woman sitting alone in the park, a group in the airport waiting for the flight, each with their unique features, attire, air and stance, color, background, not knowing they are subject to scrutiny, or if they become aware, smile broadly or turn away, they all fascinate me now, so different, all part of the Big Apple without discrimination. Or so I would like to believe.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Central Attraction

A man’s voice warning that doors are closing, a woman’s voice cheerfully singing next station names. Ladies and gentlemen we are being held because of. We are being held in New York City subway, but we are still very much in love.
I came to New York, after a long break, in 2006. I keep coming back and it's as if I never left. My first visit was for half a day when I was eight; my longest visit lasted a whole year. I have witnessed all seasons in the city (fall is my favorite, and then came Sandy). I have some friends. It's my home as much as I have any, because home is where the heart is. 
In the park I watch people under the sun rays running to and fro. I want to hold them firmly, tighten their legs to the ground but they fly away too fast, only stopping for a selfie. Any real lovers of the park here? Someone who just wants to linger, absorb it in slow motion? Not today: It’s sunny and warm and the bees have so little to do and so much time. Stop. Reverse that.
I should live here, I think. But I did live here. Why didn’t I stay? I do live here once a year for a month, sometimes more. The man I met today in the park said I looked like a local, like someone who goes there frequently and knows why. I know I belong. Places that you belong to are kind to you. But I believe this place is generous to everybody. It just opens up a bit more to those who wish to explore deeper.

It is a winter day of unbelievable 50 degrees F in January. Snow will come in due time, but not today.

The park in 2006 -- pencil, color pencil

And in 2014 - watercolor

2015 - a few marker drawings

And this is winter 2016/2017

Yes, I have been to more places (in my next blog entry, soon). And behold the people of New York beautiful and bizarre, scruffy and sexy,  found their way onto my paper. Get ready.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

An Orchard Rising

From one show to another, I almost played three games at once (but two is more than enough).
Two months ago, two exhibitions opened in Haifa: my little solo show at Hapina Cafe, titled "The Gateway to Lower Paradise", and the grand-grand-over-anticipated-exciting-event-of-the-year "Bustan Khayat" (Khayat Orchard), in two parts - one  at Haifa City Museum,  and one that showed more of the arty stuff, at Bet Hagefen Gallery.

I didn't take any pictures from Hapina Cafe opening because I was too busy drowning in the sea of people that just kept on coming - but it was a very happy occasion. Literally the whole neighborhood swarmed in.
I managed to hang 30  works, most of them small marker drawings; I was really surprised when the Haifa Museum, in a Facebook post, recommended my exhibition, most of which was indeed about Khayat Orchard.

The opening at Bet Hagefen was something else entirely. 35 artists, a huge crowd numbering hundreds of people, according to some. Eyal Friedlander, a kind of host and one of the curators, was glowing all over. It was his big time. Hopefully something good may come out of all this. Eyal is a wonder, he started working there on his own and later with volunteers and still keeps the place together, deeply involved with it. If the city had any sense, he would have been commissioned there as warden/gardener. Here in a painting by Hila Sali.

The tigers were represented by some paintings and drawings, some shown in previous posts, and this oil 60x90 cm that was completed only two days before the curators came to my studio. It is part of the graffiti series.

My large wooden circle raised some attention, shown by most publications and TV shows who talked about us at all. Below, Pnina Beagetz, a painter friend,  and myself under the image. Photo taken by Efrat Peleg - another gifted artist.

Beautiful places are sometimes man-made and sometimes just places of great natural beauty. Because we lack breathtaking natural vistas within a walking distance, we settle for more humble places. Anyway one sees beauty not through the eyes of the flesh, but with the heart.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Under Glass

Recently I have been framing my own artwork, and following advice from someone I bought the wood from, I decided to cut my own glass - which would save me money in the long run. I had in mind about 40 small to medium frames.
Cutting glass works like magic once you get the right tools. It is incredibly easy and I have a small obsession with the whole issue now.
You probably haven't heard, :) but I sold a painting earlier this year in an exhibition in Gate 3 - this painting:

It's oil on acrylic glass 45x110 cm. I made 3 in the series, this is the second of 3 panorama paintings of my back yard.
This one is the first (and favorite).

Most people liked it because of the transparency, I am sure. A lot of people came to tell me they liked it; eventually when someone bought it I wasn't there, and they just called me from the gallery to let me know.
I too like transparent, and the new glass madness is overwhelming. First of all, the feeling of having conquered a certain fear; the sound of the cutter scratching; the fragile, subtle and yet cruel properties, the weight and feel of the material; and I can tell glass likes me, because I keep finding it everywhere now. Sometimes it is too thick to frame with and then I use it as paperweight, or to cut paper on. (This is my first cut glass - a crooked shot, but a straight piece)

Last week I took a break from framing and went to the Khayat Orchard to unwind and sketch a little. A friend who went with me made a wonderful watercolor I wish I had taken a photo of. And I made these three marker drawings.
 And then went home and framed them one by one.


After the curator for the Cafe Hapina exhibition picked the works, I felt free to resume my work in oil, which I have been neglecting for a while in favor of framing. Lately I have been experimenting a bit, taking for instance my marker drawings as basis for larger works in oil, sometimes using 3-4 drawings for one oil painting.
This is the first experiment, oil on wood 21x88 cm. I love these unusual proportions, just like the acrylic glass earlier. I just found the wood and it gave me an idea.

You'll get to see my frames when I report from the exhibition in a month or so.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

What Does Your Garden Grow

Our Secret Garden is coming to the center of attention in September, when two exhibitions (at least) will open in the city - one in the Haifa City Museum and another one in Bet Hageffen Gallery, showing the work of volunteers in the Orchard, plus some artwork created through the decades.
And all the while mysterious things continue to happen around the Khayat place. Tigers have been spotted again, and graffiti of tigers appeared in the pools area. 

But since it was drawn with charcoal, it is already starting to fade. 

The tigers in this image came from this painting:

oil on plywood, 64x48 cm

I worked on it for almost a year, give or take, and with a few months break in the middle (visiting Europe and USA in 2015). But the best works are not the ones I work at the most. Sometimes it's just a small sketch in markers, and sometimes something different entirely, like this plywood round panel of  110 cm.

oil on plywood

In a Facebook post I named this painting "Off Fence". The fences are a new arrival. It used to be as it is, abandoned and beautiful in its neglect. But the city wanted to cover its a** and one morning there were those ugly green railings everywhere. I thought about making a comment, but in a very subtle way. I think the work does not appear to be political in any way. For this oil painting I used a sketch in markers:

As well as this one

And last, I tend to make more drawings of the same spot over and over again, and this is one of my favorites:

pen, 35x50 cm
So, another one.

markers,  21x28 cm

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Backyard Garden

This painting done about two years ago made me think of water flooding the place, and then the desire arose in me to paint this image. Eventually I came up with only a hint of water - the painting below can be interpreted in many ways.

Wadi Siyah and the Khayat Orchard, at the foot of the Carmel, are some of my favorite spots in the city. Once a thriving beautiful  residence getaway for the wealthy Khayat family, it  passed hands until it became city property, but since then (the 70's) it has long been abandoned,  and the city does little to maintain this heritage site or make it accessible for the public (tax-paying, a-lot-of-tax paying public etc.).
The wadi or dry creek runs from the Carmeliya neighborhood on the Carmel range in Haifa, down to the cemetery. This drawing I made on a daytrip up the dry creek in summer. (In winter it can carry occasionally some actual rain water).

I made a few oil sketches there, but recently I take the markers or make a pen drawing.

After spending a few years painting and drawing in the Orchard, I started to see tigers in the deep shadow of shrubs and trees. The tigers are an ancient subject I dealt with some 5 years ago.

Some people live in the lower entrance to the wadi, across from the cemetery. There is a dispute going on with the municipality who wants them out. This is one of the houses, with a magnificent tree in front of it.

Some of the magic of the place is in its many staircases, leading from one level to another, sometimes made for leading the water down.