No apologies. No PC lingo. Just proud to stand up for Israel and its people. Artists 4 Israel – graffiti greats from all over the world – flew here for 15 days to paint 50 wall murals and countless smaller pieces in Hebron, Shiloh, Tel Aviv, Central Gush Etzion and Tekoa in Eastern Gush Etzion.
I met up with these artists at Gush Etzion's Pina Chama and at the pillbox of the Gush Etzion Junction. Their paintings were fantabulastic. You've got to pass by to see their works of art. Tzomet HaGush is g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s now!! They even printed Hebrew with a little help. :)
Their vibrant murals were a mix of pictures – Jewish and national symbols - and the artists' signatures.
Artists 4 Israel co-founder and president Craig Dershowitz (left) of New Jersey said, "These internationally recognizable artists (most of whom are not Jewish) that are respected in the art community are able to say, 'I’ve been here and I support Israel. Here’s my name and my mark - proving that to the world.'"
Actually, the graffiti artists that have been painting in Israel are so famous, Craig said, that graffiti tourists would travel here specifically just to see their projects.
On this trip Craig brought artists from Spain, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, across America and even a few famous Israeli spray-can-superstars, members of the AFK graffiti collective Always Fresh Kids. They traveled to Judea and Samaria to decide for themselves what's really going on here. "And they’ve fallen in love so far. They’ve had a great time in all the communities we’ve been to," he said.
Craig added, "Artists 4 Israel has done an amazing job at promoting Israel, letting people know what a beautiful homeland for the arts, Israel is."
It's the People2People!!
Whooshing through Yosh towns as quickly as their paints could dry, the artists did pick up the feeling of each town by interacting with the residents, especially the kids!!
While these artists are honored at international exhibits and paid about $50,000 per mural, during these two weeks in Israel, they've donated their talents. They've been wined and dined on humous and Coca Cola, slept in "camp-like" accommodations and roughed it. But they're loving it!!
Craig explained, "Within the communities, the support and love and appreciation of the people have been probably the things that most touch our artists – the human connection."
New Yorker Tara Gordon (at left with Voices editor), co-founder and VP of Artists 4 Israel agreed, "They can practice their art anywhere, but what they're really doing, especially with the kids, is connecting."
Tara explained, "They're saying, 'I support Israel and its right to peace and security,' and they're doing it in their own style."
I had a chance to chat with a few of the graffiti artists between shpritzes. They all seemed sincerely enthusiastic about their trip here. And while their tattooed torsos seemed a bit in-your-face, they were sincerely polite, well-spoken and serious about creating the best artwork possible to turn cement walls into positive spaces that would benefit local residents.
Among the graffiti artists were:
Bamer, Silo 16 & Dace & Risto of AFK
Bellen from Spain
Vic Ismo from Puerto Rico
UR New York
Sever & Ewok of the MSK Group
Last year when A4I came to Israel, they painted about 100 bomb shelters in Sderot, as well as walls in Neve Yaakov and caravans in Bet El. [http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/12/artists-4-israel.html]
This trip of Artists 4 Israel was a joint venture of the One Israel Fund (Mark Provisor) with the Gush Etzion Foundation (Shani Simkowitz).
View the clip of our visit with Artists 4 Israel: