Tel Aviv Graffiti, Expression Through Art

love birds, Tel Aviv graphiti

Why do I make art? Who appreciates it? How do I get my work into a gallery? Why didn’t I become a doctor? How many of my children’s drawings should you keep? These are all art related questions (more or less) that run through my mind.  

girl with pink hair, Tel Aviv graffiti

 I started collecting photos of graffiti; it’s really like walking through a museum, admiring or not the piece of art and thinking, “what was the artist really trying to say”. In university, I took several classes on this subject, they were called art history classes. What I gleaned from those classes is that many times you can not know what an artist is thinking or trying to convey just by looking at their art, you must read the artist’s own words. I loved that class because I found it interesting to see how an artist used symbolism or color or hidden meanings to convey their messages. I wished the Tel Aviv graffiti artists had written a few words to the side of their creations to help me figure out what they were trying to tell us.  

peeling lady, Tel Aviv graffiti

 When I ask the question, “why do I make art“, I think most people would agree that  creating art is a means of expression and communication. Some artists want to send a message or convey a feeling that is important to them, some of us want to inspire, educate, tell a story, document a place and time, some of us want to shock and others want to make pretty pictures to hang on the wall. But why do I make art? I think about this question a lot. I feel a need to create, I always have.  

red flower, Tel Aviv graffiti

I started creating as far back as I can remember, every one in my family was creating around me. I started taking oil painting lessons when I was ten years old; I looked forward to taking a class every Saturday like a kid anticipates Christmas morning. I loved being around my very talented teacher and learning, her studio was a little log cabin in the woods. I studied art all through school and I was good at it, people took notice and I had created an identity for myself.  As I entered university, I of course wanted to study art. I would have studied painting, but  even though my parents had no problem with my career choice, my father protested that I must study a form of art that I could earn a living from. His thoughts were: ” what kind of work could a painter of pretty pictures find?”  Dilemma.  

wall of graffiti, Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv

I started studying at Indiana University because it had a beautiful campus! They also had an excellent art program, but after looking at a few schools, the campus was the determining factor for me. I studied graphic design, also known as commercial art because my parents could envision what kind of a job I could possibly get with these skills. The I.U. art department taught me classic design skills but no real job skills like pasting up type. I met the mother of a friend of mine once at I.U., my friend told his mother that I was studying art and she asked me why I didn’t study something more ambitious and practical. That comment (insult) has haunted me for the last 27 or so years. Studying art at I.U. were some of the best years of my life because I was immersed in the world of art and surrounded by friends.

Jewish guys graffiti in Tel Aviv

In 1983, we didn’t use computers to create graphics yet at I.U. (creak, moan, dust blowing around) and I learned the basic hands on skills of the trade in future design jobs. I moved to Boston right after I graduated to live with a girl I had met studying in Italy and I looked for 3 years for a job related to graphic design and for three years I waitressed at Pizzeria Uno’s. Discouraged  by my new career as a waitress, I moved to Chicago, closer to home to find a graphic design job. After my first year in Chicago waitressing again, I landed my first real design job for a hardware and plumbing company in Chicago. I learned how to design and layout packaging and draw plumbing parts on a Macintosh computer-a very important skill for my future-really. From drawing plumbing parts, I moved on to laying out magazines, to typesetting labels (super boring and tedious) and illustrating for a cosmetic company, to freelancing, designing and illustrating all the printed materials for a hospital and technical illustration for a medical company in Chicago.  

sheep launch, Tel Aviv graffiti

I grew to hate working as a graphic designer, I wanted to be creative in a different way. When I wasn’t working two or three jobs to make ends meet, I was creating at home. I painted chairs and furniture for awhile and then I made sculptures and tiled them and somewhere in there I got married, kept freelancing (I had a gig illustrating for a children’s toy company-my favorite job so far) , had kids and then I started to make things for my children. We moved to Israel for my husband’s job and due to the lack of quality children’s products there, I opened a children’s boutique full of everything a child loves, designed and made by myself and a team of talented artists. After five years as a boutique owner, I moved my business to the internet and narrowed my creative focus. I now sew and needle felt toys and dolls for children and make one of a kind sculpted textile pieces.

type, Tel Aviv graffiti

Right now, I’m still an artist of utilitarian goals. I think that real expression is a future chapter for me, feeling free enough to express my valued thoughts and feelings through art will be an evolved ability for me. In the future, my art will take another path, just like life.

kissed a girl, Tel Aviv graffiti

Sandwich or Needle felted Hanukkah Dreidel?

sandwich?

Hanukkah dreidels are usually made from clay, wood, plastic or metal; I decided to see how one would work made from wool.

yummy

The needle felted sandwich dreidel is made up of many parts (tomato, lettuce, cheese, olive and 2 pieces of bread) balanced on top of each other and sewn together.

tomato, lettuce, cheese, bread (needle felted and felt)

The edges of the bread and tomatoes are covered with a strip with felt and sewn to the needle felted shape. The soft fluffy wool of the bread makes the slices feel and look real!

needle felted bread detail

A  low, flat shape shape spins the best (apple slice, sandwich, sufganiyot, egg). I cut a hole in the middle of these shapes and glued a piece of chop stick through the center for spinning.

Hanukkah apple slice dreidel (with real apple seeds), fried egg dreidel, jelly doughnut dreidel and sandwich dreidel

Now I’m hungry!

Happy Hanukka!

My Hanukkah dreidel collection

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, the festival of lights! For us, this means that I will go to the market and buy big bags of potatoes, onions, apples, cooking oil, candles and sour cream. In the afternoon I’ll put up the decorations and in the evening I’ll start to make potato latkes and apple sauce. Yummy! 

One of my favorite dreidels of my collection, found at the flea market.

We turn on the festive Hanukkah music and the girls start to dance around as I put the Hanukkias on the kitchen table.  We look at my dreidel collection and play with the tops to see who’s will spin the longest. The girls help me to peel, grate and cut up the potatoes, onions and apples. They often wear swimming goggles while grating the onions to keep from crying!

Clown dreidel from my collection

My husband reads a holiday prayer in Hebrew and we light the menorah. There are 9 candle, 8 for the eight nights of Hanukkah and the 9th candle is the shamash, the candle we use to light all the others. We light one candle each night. We give the girls each a small gift every night and sometimes friends from abroad send packages. Giving gifts at Hanukkah is more of an American tradition; everyone does their holiday a little differently but Israelis usually light candles, give candy or geld (money) and attend children’s theater over the Hanukkah vacation.

My oldest daughter Lili's first dreidel.

Dreidels (Sevivone in Hebrew-means turn around) have four letters on them that stand for: Nes godol hayam sham a great miracle happened there (Israel) OR Nes godol hayam po a great miracle happened here. All dreidels will have a shin on them to say a great miracle happened there (Israel), except the Israeli dreidels, they say: a great miracle happened here. The dreidel game goes as follows:

  • Each player starts with the same number of game pieces (raisins, candies, nuts…)
  • Each player put in one piece and spins the dreidel (you will either gain pieces or lose them depending on the letter the dreidel lands on).
  • When one player has won all the game pieces, the game is over.

nun-the player does nothing
gimmel-the player gets everything in the “pot”
hey-the player gets half of the pot
shin-the player adds a game piece to the pot

The dreidel spins and the snake slithers in and out along the bottom.

Traditional foods for Hanukkah are potato latkes (pancakes) with apple sauce and sour cream and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts). There are variations of these dishes, but this latke recipe is  the original. 

Potato Latkes Recipe
Ingredients:
5-6 medium white potatoes, grated
1 medium yellow onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbs breadcrumbs or flour
1/4 cup oil for frying
Directions:
Peel and grate potatoes. Put in strainer to drain away liquid.
Peel onion. Grate into large bowl.
Add beaten eggs, spices, and crumbs to onions. Beat well.
Add grated and strained potatoes and mix.
Set frying pan at medium heat. Add oil.
When oil heats, add one large tablespoon of batter for each pancake. Cook 4-5 minutes on one side, flip, and cook another 4 minutes. Serve hot with a dolop applesauce and sour cream.

For more great latke recipes, see my friend Eileen Golz’s recipe and food commentary website called Cuisine by Eileen. Eileen has wonderful recipes of all kinds: http://cuisinebyeileen.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/are-they-latkes-or-potato-pancakes/

handpainted dreidel