Sunday, August 21, 2016

Israel 2016 - The Last Day

On the final day of my visit to Israel the group of artists with which I was traveling had an arts fair in Arad. The artists had mini-workshops for those who came to try their hand at some creative skills. And I had an opportunity to photograph more kids.

I departed for home the next day. But leshana haba b'yerushalayim!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Israel 2016 - Shabbat

Almost shabbat. Can't shoot on shabbat, but one of our host couples made a Kabalat Shabbat for us before sundown so that we could have a kiddush. Shirah and Gadi Segal were a very interesting couple.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Israel 2016 - Arad Day 4

We had lots of free time on our fourth day in Arad. We were turned loose to do what artists do, art. And I photographed them doing it. I was deeply impressed with these two.

Anne could take any material and find some creative way to make art out of it.

Marilyn never stops. When she's not turning seemingly indiscriminate blobs of watercolor on paper into flowers or landscapes, she's a sketch machine.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Israel 2016 - Arad, day 3, part 2

The best part of the day for me was spending time with the school kids during their art class. Such beautiful young faces! They were fascinated with my camera. Wanted to use it to take pics of me with their friends. I'd love to go back and spend time teaching them about how to take great photos and how to use images to tell a story. But since this was the first time for an artist exchange, our trip was more exploratory and experimental. We didn't have much of a chance for any substance.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Israel 2016 - Arad, day 3

Our third day in Arad began with a demonstration of and lesson in flamenco dancing by a local practitioner. I 'dropped the ball' during this session. I took lots of photos of the demo, but was too involved participating in the lesson to take photos of my co-participants trying to execute the same moves. Only much later, after reviewing my work for the day did I realize that I missed a golden opportunity for unique material.

Following that, we visited an art class in a local elementary school. The experience was another of the highlights of my time in Arad. The kids spoke little or no English, and we spoke no Hebrew. But once we were turned loose to interact with the kids, everyone had a wonderful time. It was a goldmine of photo opportunities. This post is photos of us (the artists) working with the kids. The next post will be about the kids posing for me.

Our flamenco instructor explaining to us how to move gracefully:

Jared showing the boys how to execute an intricate brush stroke.

Gail explaining a philosophical concept about creativity:

 Marilyn, who was never without her sketch book, showing the kids what she did:

At one point the kids asked for Marilyn's sketch book and pen to make their own entries into her sketch journal:

Friday, August 12, 2016

Israel 2016 - Arad day 2

Part of the itinerary for our time in Arad was to spend an evening visiting and having dinner in a bedouin village. The bedouins were originally pastoral nomadic tribes living in the Negev and Sinai peninsula. Their lifestyle has changed quite a bit over the past few generations and they've become more settled. They usually live in distinct villages but integrate well into Israeli society.

I was looking forward to this experience and photo opportunity, but was very disappointed to discover the 'village' we were to visit was little more than a reconstructed Disneyland-like village with some local bedouins dressed in costumes who talked to us about their village lifestyle. When we returned to Arad after the evening experience I discovered that one of the program administrators had visited an actual 'live' bedouin village near Beersheba. When I expressed some misgivings about our experience at the make-believe village and my wish that I would have much preferred to go to a real bedouin town, I was told that it was just a town like any other and I wouldn't have found it interesting. Really?

The make-believe village was called Kfar Hanokdim.

One of our group of artists with the founder and owner of the village.

There was a large tent restaurant in which a bedouin woman was making flat bread for the evening diners.

 As part of the presentation of bedouin village life, we were served tea.

A bedouin village woman talked to us about her family life, told stories of her husband leaving her for his second wife, and her striking out on her own to establish a career. After the talk she sold trinkets to us.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Israel 2016 - Arad Day 1

The purpose of my most recent trip to Israel was to participate in a mission of artists from the Metrowest Jewish Federation area in a bridge program to network with and work on collaborative creative projects with the artists in Arad, Israel - a partner community with the Metrowest Federation. 

Arad is a city in the northern Negev, a few miles south of the artificial border of Judea. It's on a mountain between Beersheba and Masada/the Dead Sea. Because of it's elevation, the nights are comfortably cool in late June, but the daytime temperatures hover near 100˚F for about twelve hours a day. Except for its proximity to Masada/the Dead Sea and the stark Negev landscape, the city itself has little to offer visitors. Towards the western end of the city is an industrial area with cinderblock and sheet metal units that had fallen into disuse, but has been rehabilitated as a community of low cost artist studios and workspaces. It was with those artists with whom we networked.

The first full day we spent in Arad was Shabbat, a traditional family day in Israel as well as a rest day for many people. The time I spent with my host Israeli family turned out to be the highlight of my time in Arad. The kids were amazing.

But my favorite family member of them all was Tai (guess which one she is):

We took a walk into the Negev to get a feel for the environment - we began the walk at 9am and the temperature had already reached 95˚F. The Mitzpe Moav memorial which overlooks the Dead Sea was erected to commemorate an Israeli Air Force jet that had crashed in the location. You can get an idea of the stark landscape in the background.

My friend Hen (pronounced with a hard 'H' as if you're clearing your throat) invited me out onto one arm of the memorial that extended over a steep drop into a wadi. You can see the faint line of the Jordanian mountains in the background.