Ein Hod Artist Village

{Guest post by: Keturah Maraska}

Have you ever thought about running away to live amongst other artists? Well, if you ever do feel the urge I have the perfect location – Ein Hod. Last week I was lucky enough to join a group of ladies for a tour of this quaint little village and learn a bit more about the wonderful artistic culture here in Israel.

IACW - Ein Hod

This Israeli artist colony is nestled just south of Carmel Mountain National Park and has a great view to the Mediterranean Sea thus providing the perfect picturesque inspiration for new pieces of art. Artists first began to move here in 1953 when artist Marcel Janco invited some of his talented friends to join him in settling in a colony with like-minded individuals. The original group of villagers was part of the Dado movement arising post WWI. Though there were just a few initial residents of Ein Hod, the village has grown to approximately 150 artists and their families.

IACW - Ein Hod - view to Med

What makes this village unique is that only artists are allowed to own homes and live in town. Artists are not permitted to deed their property to their descendants unless they too are artists who are living and working in the community. This policy maintains a creative culture inside Ein Hod, even leading to second and third generation artists living in the neighborhood.

IACW - Ein Hod collage

Artists in Ein Hod consist of photographers, potters, painters, jewelers, sculptors, those who work with textiles, and even musicians. During our tour we had the privilege to meet a few of the artists and experience short demonstrations of their craft. First, we encountered the Magal sisters. These twins are second-generation Ein Hod residents. They are potters who use glaze to paint their pottery before they fire it. They do not paint and then glaze, but use the glaze as the paint, which makes the process more complicated since the glaze melts and blends during the firing. This technique is laborious and tedious, but these women spoke of their work with a passion that filled the air. The final product is vibrant in color and often very detailed. My favorite pottery items are the sheep they painstakingly create by rolling and looping each piece of “wool” before glazing and firing the final product. As I admired their work it was clear the Magal sisters love what they do and are extremely proud of their craft.

IACW - Ein Hod potter.jpg

As second-generation artists, the Magal sisters first found themselves in Ein Hod due to their father’s love of painting. His original oil works are available for a hefty penny; however, the sisters produce silk screens of his work which are much more economical. The sisters are also quite proud of the work their father produced and will gladly discuss his inspiration – the Mediterranean Sea and elements of Jewish culture.

Another artist we met was the potter Tal Shahar who opened her Ein Hod workshop in 1985. Shahar shares her workshop with budding potters and serves as their mentor and guide. Her palette is more earth tone than the Magals though she does paint her creations at times. Cups, dishes, and vases that Tal produces in color are usually developed by using a pigment and underglaze. One more unique technique that Tal employs is the Japanese style of Raku – firing at a high heat, them removing and “smoking” the ceramic so that it darkens and cracks in spots. I have seen this technique before, but I did find Tal’s finished products rather beautiful. The most interesting were a white design made through useof the “naked” Raku process. (For more information on ceramic pigments and stains visit this site).

IACW - Ein Hod potter2.jpg

Finally, our tour guide, Lea Ben-Arye, demonstrated her silkscreen technique for us on the steps just outside her store. Nestled under the trees in a corner, Ben-Arye’s shop is the perfect location of group lessons in silkscreen. She has her own technique that allows her to reuse her stencils and create unique designs. Her husband Dan Ben-Arye works beside her creating jewelry, wooden sculptures, etc. She said he likes to learn from the other artists in the colony and then develop his own technique. Their store is filled with many of their creations from scarves, necklaces, wooden benches, and Dan’s newest passion – photographs of the clouds of Ein Hod. The one item that really caught my eye was their necklace design of a pomegranate and Star of David in one – both very symbolic of Israeli culture and life.

IACW - Ein Hod silk screen copy.jpg

Should I ever decide to run away this would be high on my list of places to end up. Art is everywhere – from the garbage cans, to chairs, to roadblocks, etc. Sculptures are on just about every corner. You can’t help but have some pop of color catch your attention around each bend in the road. Traffic is almost non-existent so strolling through the streets and admiring all of the craftwork around you is not only possible, it is almost demanded. Oh, and don’t worry, there are great restaurants and a coffee shop or two to fill your stomach and please your eye with “art on the plate” in order to energize you for the next set of galleries and workshops on your list of “must-sees”.

IACW - Ein Hod - Dona Rosa1.jpg

It doesn’t take much of an imagination to understand why people would be drawn to this location; it takes even less of an imagination to see why generation after generation would want to stay here; once here, though, your imagination is the only thing that can limit what lies ahead.

keturah

 

 

Maraska Family session -5603

Keturah is a Marine wife and mother to two high school boys, and an Elementary school teacher.  Their family is currently transitioning back to the United States of America after a year abroad in Israel. She loved living in Tel Aviv and will miss living on the Mediterranean Sea.

Katie featured her family’s photo session earlier this week and shared about their creative bond and friendship. We are so thankful to have Keturah as a part of our creative community and look forward to  having her share her adventures with us again.

Colorful Oman

{Guest post by: Jillian Bellamy}

As Lindy-Ann described in her recent Sepia post, life in the desert can become a bit…. monochromatic. Sure, we get to enjoy the ever-changing blues of the gulf, and the color of sand has its own charm; especially when it blows in and turns the whole world orange, but there is a lot to be missed when you decide to call a Kuwait  your home. Of course, there are the obvious changing autumn leaves, bright blooms of spring, and even the dreariness of a grey winter sky, but what my family and I didn’t realize we were missing were the not so obvious scenes. The colors of the earth itself were lacking in our palette. That is, until we hit the road out of Muscat, Oman and embarked on a feast for the eyes and the soul. This was our third trip to the Sultanate of Oman, and this gem of the Middle East is certainly worth the repeat visits.

IACW - 2 Sandstorm.jpg

We have been fortunate to travel to some pretty enchanting places on this planet, and Oman nears the top of the list. I’ve never felt so beckoned to explore every nook and cranny and venture down so many paths less chosen. Oops, back to reality – we had two kids in tow, so ALL of the nooks and crannies may have been off limits, but we managed to stumble upon our fair share.  

IACW - Bellamy family

Our first stop was Jebel Shams. Our journey to the highest peak in Oman took us through an otherworldly landscape of colorful rocky mountains that had our 4 year old chiming in from the back seat to ask, “Are we still on the Earth??”  In addition to the usual greys, tans and browns of the mountain rocks, we were surprised to see the mountains reveal deep, earthy purples, sandy reds, and sage greens; all set against a clear blue sky and dotted with funny, little goats. At the end of our drive awaited an orange-pink sunset, that transformed the rocky landscape into an amazing blue-grey before the night sky became a blanket of stars. We treated ourselves to a campfire and a little taste of home as we roasted marshmallows in the orange glow.

IACW - goatIACW - J&RIACW - sunsetIACW - campfire

Our next stop, the highlight of our trip, was a visit to the quaint farming village of Misfat al Abriyeen. Nestled in the mountains, we came upon this village of crumbling mud brick homes and countless palms.  A meandering path took us through alleyways donned with colorful doors in various states of disarray before passing through an archway into a hidden world of date palms, an ancient aqueduct (falaj) system, and terraced farming fields of papayas, mangoes, bananas, corn, pomegranates, limes, figs… the list goes on. We were mesmerized by this oasis of green and life tucked away in these barren mountains, and neither words nor photos can really do this village justice.

IACW - palms.jpgIACW - doorsIACW - aquaIACW - village viewIACW - village view2

Before heading out of the mountains, we stopped to browse the souq in Nizwa, whose main wares were clay pots, silver, and dates. The people of Oman greeted us warmly with their deep brown eyes, friendly smiles, and hospitality rooted in Bedouin tradition. The men in the shops wore perfectly pressed disdashas that strayed from the typical whites and creams and seemed to emulate the colors of the landscape – earthy blues, greys, greens, browns, and even purples were complemented by beautifully embroidered caps called kummahs. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that my camera met its demise at this souq, which was both devastating and, admittedly, liberating.

IACW -  souk.jpgIACW - souk2

We descended from the mountains, armed with only our cellphone cameras, to the fringes of the Empty Quarter, a vast expanse of picturesque sand dunes inhabited by Bedouins. Along the way we saw tiny mosques with domes of glistening gold and colorful mosaic tile set against the mountainous backdrop, as well as dozens of whirling sand tornadoes that conjured up images of genies and desert mystery.  When we crossed the threshold into the desert, we were surprised to see so much greenery sprouting from the red-orange sands. The abundant shrubs and bushes were being happily munched on by camels and goats alike. After arriving at our chosen camp and being greeted with dates and Omani coffee, we settled into our Arabic tent surrounded by the familiar black and red fabric that we are accustomed to seeing in the diwaniyas of Kuwait. We scaled a giant dune to enjoy another sunset, another campfire, and another star-filled sky.

IACW - beoduinIACW - dessert

On our last night in Oman, we sat poolside on a bluff, and we talked about how grateful we were to have had the opportunity to visit this colorful little piece of the world.  We watched the big orange ball of a sun dip behind the sparkling sea, framed by two perfectly silhouetted palm trees. I wished I’d had my camera to document the scene, but instead I jumped into the cool blue pool to watch the little guy enjoy his last holiday swim. It turns out that some moments are best captured with your mind.

Safe travels,

Jillian

IACW - Jillian.jpg

Living in a Sepia World

1IMG_1012
no filter – this is real life

Sepia – a reddish-brown color, named after the rich brown pigment derived from the ink sac of the common cuttlefish Sepia (1,2,).  Sepia tones are most commonly associated with photography. In film photography chemicals are applied to a black and white print producing the warmer hues of sepia for a visual effect or for archival purposes. Now in the days of Instagram and digital post processing the same effect can be added as a filter to achieve the look of aging photographs.(2)

My sepia is the colour the world turns when the sand from the desert rolls in. For those of us living in Kuwait, these sandstorms create a surreal 3-dimensional sepia toned world.

1DSC_4492

For newcomers to the region, these sandstorms are intriguing, but for us who have been here a while, they are hazardous, and simply awful. The sand gets in everywhere. It seems to linger behind for days. They are common for this time of year as seasons change and the full force of summer approaches. To learn more about these sandstorms click [here].

When I lived in South Africa, I was blessed daily with waves of colour rolling in from every direction; everyday, all day long, no matter the weather or season. Growing up with that visual abundance, I definitely became accustom to it. It was only when I moved to the desert 10 years ago, when my colour range reduced that I truly realised how blessed I had been all along.

We really do live in a beautiful colourful world. Every colour adds such dynamism to life and the world around us, pause for a moment wherever you are and look around, see the colours around you as if feasting on them for the first time. For us here in this sepia season, the dust will settle, and the blue sky will make her appearance again, but until then stay safe, stay indoors. That said if anyone is brave enough to venture out to take photographs, please remember to use your UV filter on your lens, you don’t want these little particles anywhere near the inside of your camera. Share your photos in the comments section below, especially from yesterday’s sandstorm, we would love to see them!

Until the dust clears for us in Kuwait, lets fill our timelines with the colour blue and stay inspired. #itsablueworld

I will leave you with a few images of what inspires me these days; African skies and Kuwait textures!

2sky1DSC_88201DSC_88051DSC_70271DSC_7007 copyDSC_0005 copy

Cheers,

la

Sources:

1 – Wikipedia contributors. “Cuttlefish.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 May. 2017. Web. 25 May. 2017.

2 – Wikipedia contributors. “Sepia (genus).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 Nov. 2016. Web. 25 May. 2017.

3 – Wikipedia contributors. “Photographic print toning.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 Jan. 2017. Web. 25 May. 2017.

To Market, to Market we go!

IACW - Kristen Genton - 6094

In Kuwait the market is referred to as the the “souk” and in Israel it is the “shouk.” They are similar language and atmosphere, with vendors selling their wares, calling out for you to come over, and the colorful array of people milling about. It is fascinating and quite a sight to see. It is a great place at which to shop and grab a bite to eat. We particularly enjoy sipping a local Israel craft brew at the Beer Bazaar and people watching.

IACW - beer bazaar.jpg

That said, my favorite part of the Carmel Market (shouk) in Tel Aviv is that it’s adjacent to the arts and crafts fair on Nachlat Binyamin Street.

IACW - Nachlat Binyamin.jpg

Every Tuesday and Friday starting at 10:00am, the artists setup their stalls on what used to be the longest street in Tel Aviv. First created by a group of craftsmen as a suburb of Tel Aviv, it ended up becoming a part of the city limits and was further developed. Nachlat Binyamin is made up of historic buildings dating back as early as 1911.  In 1988 the converted pedestrian street became home to one of the largest arts and crafts markets in Israel, hosting over 250 artists. (Visit-tel-aviv.com).

IACW - buildings

The thing that makes the Nachlat Binyamin experience unique, is that it is mandatory that each artist sells their own work. Allowing you to meet and purchase directly from the artists themselves, not a broker or studio employee. This also creates a vibrant culture of creatives working together and developing relationships. Which you know I love!

IACW - market -0918.jpg

I have to credit my fabulous neighbor/explorer, Julie (above), for introducing me to the market as well as the Hatachana Train Station and Neve Tzedek neighborhood.  She introduced me to several artists she had purchased from in the past and with which she enjoyed good rapport. It was through Julie that I met my favorite Israel ceramist and Instagram buddy, Orna Barel.

IACW - Orna

Orna’s work is beautiful and inspiring, but beyond that, she is a lovely person. I have been know to message her and give her a heads up that I am bringing friends to the market or pre-order items that I love on her Instagram and she is always welcoming and treats the newcomer really special. {I’m hoping to feature her in a post in the near future, so this is not the last you will hear about Orna!} Honestly, it is creative community in action. On that note, check out Orna on Instagram or at her Etsy shop.

There are so many artists that I enjoy seeing again and again at the market including Smadar Dagan-Yehieli, a fabulous jewelry designer, discovered by my mother-in-law on our adventure to the market. Thanks to our Kiwi friends’ visit, I was introduced to a new-to-me painter, Osnat Shavit, who produces some gorgeous landscapes, still life, and scenes of childhood. There truly are so many great artists to check out.

IACW - artists

To complete the art scene of the market Nachlat Binyamin is a hot spot for sighting some of the incredible graffiti art by MR and other well known Tel Aviv artists.

IACW - graffiti

Since Julie’s first gave me a tour of the area, I have introduced the market to all our visitors and a couple other expats. After Melissa’s visit to the area, she said I have to bring everyone there when they stay with us; and I totes agree. A trip to the market and the surrounding areas is a must for everyone visiting Tel Aviv!

If you have had the pleasure of shopping the at Nachlat Binyamin we would love to hear what artists you recommend!

Cheers,
kdg

Inspiring Artist: Banksy

IACW - Banksy - 4507

If you read my post a couple months back about urban art, you know I’m pretty inspired by street art. During our visit with our Kiwi friends this past week we talked a lot about the culture of street art here in Israel. The graffiti art that gets the most exposure outside of Israel are the pieces painted on the wall dividing Israel and the West Bank. One of the most well known contributors is the artist Banksy. It just so happens that we noticed a billboard of his art and our friends were interested in seeing some of his work.

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” ― Banksy

I had heard of the name before, but I was unaware of how pivotal Banksy has been in the world of street art. Although he originated in the UK, Banksy has painted several pieces on the wall and recently created the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. We were thrilled to find out that the billboard was advertising (in Hebrew) his pop up gallery running the month April at one of our local malls. It was truly meant to be!

IACW - Banksy - 4455.jpg

The exhibit at the Arena Mall, runs three different 4-hour time slots where visitors can peruse and admire several pieces of Banksy’s work all curated by his former spokesperson (and friend) Steve Lazarides. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.

IACW - Banksy_4462.jpg

Although, the artist is anonymous, there are tidbits out there about him, all with the disclaimer that everything “known” has never been confirmed or denied. What is known is that Banksy has changed the genre of street art into art for the high-end consumer. There are stories of Banksy walls being dismantled and sold for millions. It is truly amazing that something that can be seen as vandalism to some is also fine art to others.

IACW - Banksy - 4481.jpg

As a political activist, Banksy gives a voice to people being oppressed and marginalized in the public arena and challenges the viewer to think beyond their sphere. He is also known for pranking and producing exhibits that push the limits of being socially acceptable. These include his very own theme park Dismaland and his Hang-and-Run prank where he vandalized faux masterpieces and hung them in museums around the world. He is edgy, anarchic, and he frankly does not care about offending others. Take it or leave it, laugh or ignore it. With anonymity it is easy to let the art speak for itself. In addition to the work itself, Banksy has produced documentaries and self published several books making his art even more accessible to the masses.

“People either love me or they hate me, or they don’t really care.”                 ―Banksy, Wall and Piece

IACW - Banksy - 4482.jpg

What I like most about Banksy’s style is the juxtaposition of gritty and innocent; bows on helicopters, little girls and soldiers, and bombers with bouquets of flowers. Specifically, my favorite piece is the showcased Girl and the Red [or Gold] Balloon.

IACW - Banksy - 4517

IACW - Banksy - 4476

IACW - Banksy - 4470

If you are in the Tel Aviv area I urge you to visit the gallery see if his work speaks to you. Also, as the title of one Banksy’s documentaries reminds us, don’t forget to Exit Through the Gift Shop.

IACW - Banksy - 5022

Let us know if you have seen any of Banksy’s work, we would love to hear what you thought! 

Cheers,
kdg

Referenceswikepedia / quotes

Al Shaheed Park phase 2 – at first glance

It’s no surprise that Al Shaheed Park is one of my favourite places to photograph here in Kuwait City. I have been waiting a long time for phase 2 to open and when it did this past week I couldn’t wait to get down there and see for myself how it compares with the original.

1DSC_3950L

1DSC_3949L

The creators of this gorgeous park have kept consistent with the look and feel of phase 1 beautifully and have managed to continue with the theme – a representation of Kuwait incorporating both old Kuwait and new Kuwait. That said, phase 2 comes with it’s own design uniqueness and promises to inspire and engage it’s audience from the minute your eyes meet the land as you rise up from the escalators.

1DSC_4048L

A prominent new attraction is the miniature of old Kuwait and new Kuwait villages that both inform and encourage us to imagine times as they once were.

One of the most interesting features I found was the modern design of the new mosque, I’ve never seen anything like it, when I hear mosque I automatically think traditional, but this was anything but. Truly original.

1DSC_3948L1DSC_3952L

Lastly, I couldn’t leave you without sharing this amazing water feature, literally bursting up through the ground.

It is worth the trip into the city to explore the second phase of Al Shaheed Park. You will be amazed to see how the layout of landscaping within the park organically becomes a part of the city skyline.

1DSC_4051L

Enjoy,

la

Travel: Petra, Jordan

“As much as we like to think we can go it alone, we need friends.” – Emily Ley

When I arrived at our first posting abroad in Kuwait I was convinced I didn’t need to make any friends, I had people back home that cared about me and that was a enough. Wrong. So very wrong. When I opened myself up to the beautiful women around me, they changed my life. Although it is bittersweet to be a nomad and meet amazing people and then have to say goodbye to them, you end up making friends you just know you will see again.

This weekend after a year and a half of planning and strategizing, we met one of those cherished families from Kuwait for an adventure in Petra, Jordan. It has been amazing, if not surreal at times. We have literally picked up where we left off, especially two older children. The memories we are making now will be perfect for those bitter days when we are missing them again.

IMG_4055Untitled-1.jpg

Here is a little recap of our adventure and some thoughts to help you, if ever get the opportunity to take the trip.

IMG_4075.JPG

Named one of the new 7 wonders of the world a decade ago and an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Petra is an awe-inspiring place to explore, and photograph. It is commonly remembered from the scenes in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (definitely a classic), but to see it close up is just incredible. (wikipedia)

IMG_3903

The main entrance to Petra, where you can buy your entry tickets, souvenirs, water bottles and use the bathroom; was packed. My suggestion here is to pre-order your tickets, bypass all of the chaos and head straight to the ticketed entry gate. Once through the gate we still had a bit of a walk before the actual entrance to the Siq. The Siq “the shaft” is a 1.2 kilometers (0.75 mi) long gorge that winds it way to the famous Treasury carved into the sandstone. (wikipedia) It is simply unbelievable to think that someone climbed to those heights to carve such perfectly symmetrical and intricate lentils, columns, and sculptures. You can still make out what looks like carved ladders of foot and hand-holds on either side of the Treasury facade.

IMG_3959IACW - dg fams.jpg

Along the way be prepared to be bombarded by bedouin children selling postcards, jewelry, and the rides on horses, donkeys, and camels. I recommend you decide in advance whether or not you want to ride the animals, prep your kids for that decision, and have cash ready, we paid 5JD per donkey and horse one way each, plus tip. We did decide that the kids would walk to the end of the city, just before the hike up to the Monastery, and ride a donkey back, but that did not stop the begging or complaining, ha! The older ones did great walking for the most part, but my little guy rode on daddy’s shoulders for the majority of the trek. Another note for those with little ones: the Siq narrows down to 3 meters (9 feet) at times and, with the crowds of tour groups and horse drawn carts, keep them close so you can grab them if necessary.

At the end of the city we split up and the dads went on to hike to the Monastery and the moms returned with our little adventurers to the hotel for a relaxing late lunch. Friends that had gone before us had shared that the steep incline was a little scary with kids on donkeys and that there were no railings or guards at the top, so we were not going risk it. The dads returned sweaty, but happy, about two hours later with some fantastic photos of the incredible views from the top. Check out their awesome shots!

IACW - Petra collage - CD

IMG_2432.JPG

Overall, I think we all appreciated the wonder of Petra and the fun excursion. Experiencing it with our long-distance friends made it all the more special. I even overheard the older ones telling each other that it was “the best day ever” and the other said it was “one of the best days of my life.” See we all need friends, if nothing else but to share our lives with them. {We love you, Drennans!}

IMG_3950

Wishing you a wonder-filled day!

kdg

PS – What a happy coincidence that the hues of Petra continued month’s study of the color orange! #itsanorangeworld

The Secret Garden

1DSC_1977

Tucked away in the neighborhood of  Salmiya in Kuwait, just off Bagdad street, you will find The Secret Garden.

At first glance, it’s a little dusty plot of land sprinkled with colour. But then something magical draws you in.

I went on Sunday morning, with everyone heading to the office, I found myself being wonderfully distracted by the details within this carefully carved out space. There is plenty of parking and it’s really easy to find. This urban community garden took off in 2014 lead by a lady named Mimi.

The garden is a constant work in progress with the community all coming together to plant and grow and keep it alive. It’s an amazing place to teach children about plants and encourage them to participate in growing and looking after their own. With gardening taking place on most Saturdays in the cooler weather it’s a unique Kuwait experience and one that should be taken advantage of before the heat of summer lands on us with full force.

1DSC_19351DSC_1988

Over the weekends this place is buzzing with people, conversations, small farmers stalls and fresh initiatives. But when the hustle and bustle dies down and the clutter of people clears, that’s when you get to take in the finer details of this special place, and that is what adds to its magic. The chairs waiting to be sat on, waiting for conversations. The freshly stitched creations waiting to be admired.

It’s in this silence that I realise that this Secret Garden is actually a lot like my Kuwait experience. My first impression was that Kuwait was this dusty plot of land, but it’s only when I embraced it with an open heart and mind that I truly started to find the hidden gems within. This garden is an environment that fosters kindness and community.

1DSC_1969

My absolute favourite feature of this Garden is this Wall of Kindness.  I don’t know why I never knew about this wall before. If you find yourself in the area and have something you are willing to re-home, please keep this spot in mind.

1DSC_19501DSC_1948

Essentially it is a unique space that has been created at the hands of the community for the benefit of the community with kindness at its core. Stop by during the quiet hours of midweek mornings to absorb the hidden gems or embrace the hustle and bustle over the weekend, there is something for everyone.

1DSC_20141DSC_2010

1IMG_9824

Cheers,

la

Inspiration from the streets

Lindy-Ann and I find that when we are feeling uninspired we need to look at other art forms for a fresh perspective. If you have been following me on Instagram (@dgdesignsnphotography) you may have noticed lately that I am really inspired by the urban art scene here in Tel Aviv, Israel.

img_0012

What is urban art?

Urban art is a term that refers to the various art forms found in or about a city. Including graffiti, architecture, sculptures, street photography, and the application of yarn or Perler beads to buildings.

To be honest, I have missed out on appreciating urban art for a long time. Even though I worked as an interior designer at a firm just south of Dupont Circle in Washington D.C., I just hurried past on my way to the Metro. It wasn’t until someone asked me what my favorite thing about Kuwait was and I tried to think of something other than my amazing friends, that I realized it was the urban art that spoke to me.

Driving is worst thing about Kuwait, seriously Israelis do not compare. However, it was sitting in traffic at the longest streetlight rotations of my life (10 minutes long!) when I started to look around and  noticed that the bridges were painted with themes of the Gulf. I pointed them out to my Liz, who had been driving the same roads 2 years longer than me, and she was amazed she had never noticed them.

IMG_6595-web.jpg

As I started to look for inspiration around the city, I found that there really is art everywhere. In Kuwait there are also the swanky blue and white water towers, the geometric and iconic Kuwait Towers, and my favorites spot with painted steps and graffiti by the fabulous the Cocoa Room restaurant. (If you are in Kuwait it is a must!)

Now living here in Tel Aviv, I’m inspired on a whole other level by the gorgeous Mediterranean, landscapes, and ancient ruins melding with modern urban art. There are sculptures of people climbing walls, giant flower pots in the center of traffic circles (kicars in Hebrew), and streets of graffiti. There is literally art everywhere, it is a photographer’s dream.

We recently went on a graffiti tour of the Florentine neighborhood in Tel Aviv, with a fantastic tour guide, Guy Sharett from StreetWise Hebrew. He educated us on a few artists, shared about the gentrification plans for the neighborhood, and helped us slow down and see hidden gems around us. Guy also noted that there is a clear distinction between a street artist and a kid with a can of spray paint, there are unwritten rules of respect among the artists and a vandal doesn’t abide by them. Unfortunately, this along with some of the edgy content lends to the negative stigma of graffiti as an art form. I walked away thinking about how these artists are sharing in creation of the city’s culture and that their art is out there, however temporary it may be, for people to appreciate or if nothing else, start a conversation.

If you are feeling uninspired or negative about your current city, I challenge you to take a closer look and notice the urban art around you. See what speaks to you, some of it won’t and that’s ok, but you may be surprised.

cheers,

kdg