Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fresh Paint

Fresh Paint, Adam Sher
Fresh Paint Contemporary Art Fair, Tel Aviv (piece by Adam Sher)

Today was another fun day in Tel Aviv, best city in the world. Every time we go and I tell Mr. Rosen that I want to move there, he makes excuses for the awesomeness. Like, well today is the sabbath so there's not much traffic. Or this is an unusually cool day for May. I don't buy it. Tel Aviv is rad and that's all there is to it. I lived there in 1998 so I should know. Although we both recalled how I hated it. But I think that's because I had a crappy room in a crappy apartment with crappy roommates and a crappy job and my boyfriend lived in another crappy city...and my crappy bike was stolen...

But this day was totally non-crappy. First a lovely birthday party for our two-year old friend Liri whose parents we adore (Dad is also a fairly recent transplant from the SF Bay Area so we are grateful to have him in country). And then Mr. Rosen took the big kids to the beach and me and Toothy McSlobberChops met a friend at the Fresh Paint Contemporary Art Fair in North Tel Aviv. There was a lot of cool stuff to be sure, but yes, there was also a lot of art that, while technically impressive and/or interesting and/or creative, was not especially attractive. Alas, beauty is in the eye of the beholder of thousands of shekels. This art was not cheap.  But it was a lot of fun to see what's new and fresh on the Israeli art scene. The place was mobbed and we were kind encumbered with our babies in their strollers, but we maneuvered in and out of rooms and saw quite a bit of the fair. Here's a sampling...

Fresh Paint, Yonatan Levy
Yonatan Levy

Fresh Paint, Adi Shalmon
Adi Shalmon

Fresh Paint, Barak Bendel
Barak Bendel

Fresh Paint, Boaz Noy
Boaz Noy

Fresh Paint, Yuri Katz
Yuri Katz

Fresh Paint, Hila Laviv
Hila Laviv

Fresh Paint, Ran Barlev
Ran Barlev

Fresh Paint, Yonatan Ullman
Yonatan Ullman

Fresh Paint, Shlomi Nisim
Shlomi Nisim

Friday, May 11, 2012

Jerusalem Tour

Armenian Quarter, Jerusalem
Window, Armenian Quarter

We had a day off from school yesterday for a holiday called Lag B'Omer which at its best is an occasion to have a bonfire and sing songs and roast hot dogs and marshmallows (at its worst its pyromaniacs and thieves wreaking environmental havoc). It celebrates the 33rd day of the Omer, a period of time between Passover, liberation from Egypt, and Shavuot, receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It's treated as a period of mourning when religious men don't shave and you can't get married etc. Except on the 33rd day, which was yesterday, when you can get married and many people do, including Mr. Rosen's parents (in fact, once we went to three weddings in two days. No joke).

The 33rd day is the day that Jewish mystics say the Kabballah was revealed (apropos Madonna's upcoming concert in Tel Aviv) and also commemorates the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire when a bunch of Jews fought for an independent states which lasted two years until they were eventually crushed. Anyway, we light big fires now to remember how Bar Kokhba and his warriors communicated back in the day and kids also make bows and arrows and homemade pita on the taboon. I wrote about it a few years ago here.

So I met up with some friends in Jerusalem for the day and we soaked up the magic. We did our usual walkabout through Jaffa Gate to the Arab market, the Christian quarter, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, the Armenia quarter and the Tower of David, stopping for lunch at Lina's, my favorite hole in the wall humus restaurant. It was a beautiful day and the kids were only a little bit bored and cranky. They tried to stage their own Bar Kokhba style revolt but we squashed it with ice-cream, Roman army style and order was restored in the land. It got a little tricky explaining about Jesus and the cross as depicted in the gory mosaic inside the church. That's kind of the stuff of nightmares. But the kids took it in and were soon distracted by stuffed camels and belly dancer costumes.

Ceramics, Armenia Quarter
Ceramic dishes at Elie's, the only seller who posts his prices.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Mosaic, Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Christian Quarter, Jerusalem
Prayer beads, Christian Quarter

Seventh station
Seventh Station on the Via Dolorosa

Bedouin textiles, Arab market
Bedouin textiles, Muslim Quarter

Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock, View from the Jewish Quarter

Direction of Mecca, 16th century
Incription at the Tower of David pointing to Mecca, 16th century

Western Wall, taken by my son
Western Wall prayers, taken by my son.

Ice cream break, Jewish quarter
Ice-cream break, troops replenished.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Home is available as a print on ETSY.

I don't know if it's because my son weaned himself this week after a nasty cold made it so he couldn't breathe and nurse at the same time. Or because we're nearing our six month milestone in Israel. Or because I'm starting to plan our trip to America in the summer and wondering how on earth we will see everyone we want to see and what it will feel like to be there. Or maybe because I keep fast forwarding ten years and my oldest is entering the army. All of it together has me feeling a little vulnerable.  I keep coming back to the idea of home. Where is it? What is home? What will it be for my kids. Is it worth fighting for? Is it worth dying for? Or is it just a place, like any other.

Mr. Rosen and I have spent a lot of time thinking about where we want to make our home and whether or not there is a perfect place for us and our family. We don't have the answer yet but we're getting closer. We might be over thinking it. It might be exactly where we are now. It might not be a place at all, but a connection we have to each other, tethering us to the present.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Song of Solomon

Art Appreciation 101

Behold, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing is come,
and the voice of the turtle dove
is heard throughout the land.

Song of Solomon 2:11-12

ps. the painting to the left of Crawly McHands Off is available now as a print on ETSY.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Ducks in a pile


Do you ever decide you're going to get started on something - a project, an assignment, a new endeavor, a trip, a remodel, your life - but only when everything is aligned in your favor? When your ducks are in a row? This is my tendency. I wait until there's some kind of magic moment. Or, more accurately, I wait till I have enough time to myself to really focus and get down to business. It turns out I never have that kind of time. Even before the baby, when the big kids were in school and I had four hours every morning to work, it was really more like three hours after drop off and pick up. And more like two after I showered, did the laundry, went to the grocery store, picked up a birthday present or went to the post office. So by the time I got down to business I had maybe an hour and a half of unfettered time which I would decide was not enough and I would daydream instead. Or tinker. Or at my most productive I would print out and package some orders. But I would never paint. Painting required my undivided attention, partly because watercolor dries so fast that once you start, you sort of need to get to a good ending point, otherwise you have blotchy. (psst. Did you see how I just rationalized not painting, even as I write this short essay ostensibly about how to get over all that and move forward?)

So, true to character, I decided once things didn't work out with my babysitter and I was again a full-time companion to Sweet Cheeks McTiny Tush, I put my painting aspirations aside. Again. Babies are such a good excuse for so many things! Tardiness, flightiness, forgetfulness, looking tired and unkempt, being chubby, whipping out your boobs in public...and, yes, procrastination. And I figured I would wait until September when my baby will start going to a family daycare and I finally have the time I need to focus on my work.

But then a number of things happened. First I reached out to a friend asking how she managed to be such a prolific painter while her babies were little and she said she is all over the place. But she threw out the question, can you do your work in layers, like 15 minute increments? It's not really how I work. I need time. I need space. Because I hate taking out supplies and then putting them all back which is what you have to do when you work at the kitchen table.

Layers. 15 minute increments.

Then I went to this woman's website, having heard rave reviews about her workshops, and nearly fell over and died when I saw her work. It is so beautiful, it sings. It made me cry! And not because I wished I was her, which is where I usually go in these moments, but because I could see her joy spilled out in her work. That's when I got out the acrylics and some old canvases I had painted 10 years ago and, starting with the "grounds" technique I had learned at a workshop last year with Jesse Reno, I just put on paint and more paint while the baby napped. And for fifteen minute increments while he played. And at night if I wasn't too tired. And I let the layers dry, because that's what you kind of have to do with acrylic  before you can add another layer. I moved my box of supplies to the shelves next to the kitchen table and the oil cloth is now there semi-permanently. I'm just getting used to the acrylics and how they work and what I can do so there is much to learn, but I'm doing it.

So there it is. My ducks are in a pile, all squawky and flappy and cattywampus and I am happily painting almost every day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

So long McMiserable, hello McFerrin

Hangar 13
Hangar 13, Port of Tel Aviv

Twenty years ago I saw a rising Israeli singer named Achinoam Nini play at the Berkeley Hillel for $5. Soon after that she sang Ave Maria for the Pope and launched herself into international stardom. Last night Mr. Rosen and I left McMiserable and the other two in the capable hands of Mr. Rosen Senior to see Achinoam Nini play with Bobby McFerrin and a few other Israeli artists at the Port of Tel Aviv. Hangar 11 to be exact (my picture of hangar 11 is not as nice as this pretty one of hangar 13 at dusk). We almost didn't go when the baby spiked a 103 fever an hour before our estimated departure. But I looked into his watery eyes and said, listen baby. Don't worry. Be happy. Or maybe I said that to myself. Or maybe Mr. Rosen Senior said that to me. Either way, we bid our threesome farewell and headed off to the big city.

I think I've mentioned that we kind of live in the sticks out here in the Judean Hills. Sounds pretty rustic and biblical, which it kind of is. But an hour away is an oasis of culture, style and traffic. The Port of Tel Aviv was completely overhauled starting about ten years ago. Not quite sure when they finished but it's basically a long boardwalk on the Mediterranean and a series of hangars filled with shops, cafes, restaurants, and concert venues big and small. We don't get out much, for the obvious reason that we have three small kids and fall asleep in our clothes at 9:00 every night, so this felt like a real treat. Plus it's always fun to watch city folk being their stylishly awesome selves. And my hair volumized to twice it's normal girth with all the humidity.

And the concert was amazing. Bobby McFerrin is pretty spectacular and Achinoam Nini was equal parts adorable in her admiration of this musical legend and astounding in her own vocal virtuosity. They could definitely be a superhero duo together. Form of an iceberg!

We ended the evening with a delicious pastrami sandwich, fried spicy potatoes and apricot soda at Delicious Deli Bar (that's calling a spade a spade in my book) in the hangar across the street and then headed home happy and full in every sense.

Bobby McFerrin concert with Achinoam Nini, port of Tel Aviv
The part where he invited people to come dance on stage. 

Spain week at the port market in Tel Aviv. Me gusta mucho.
I might have to head back today for Spain Week at the Port Market which looks like it will feature a lot of meat. Me gusta.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

In bloom


I unpacked the acrylics the other day and while Hot Cheeks McSnotface slept, I had some time to paint. I've become obsessed with weeds since Spring arrived and let me tell you there are some wild zingers over here. As beautiful as they are prickly. Not unlike Israeli women.*

* this does not apply to all of my exceptionally wonderful Israeli women friends.