street art, Nachlaot

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As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the features of that walk through the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem was the examination of the graffiti found there. I enjoy street art, and have grown more tolerant of the scribbles and the name inscriptions that are also included in the category. But I’ve noticed that even in those cases where I was really impressed by a painting appearing on a street wall, after a short while I tend to take it for granted, as I pass by again and again.

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But sometimes, the unexpected can spark a greater interest. That is, if a picture has been moved or changed, or one that I especially liked has disappeared or been blocked by some other structure. Then, there’s that chase after old friends. And part of the chase is always the discovery of new contributions unnoticed before. Many are difficult to photograph because of limited space in the small alleyways of our city.

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what is written on the side: “How can I ask for what I really want as if I were joking?”

There is a series of very special miniatures that I like… they are in a place exposed to harsh nature and may not last all that long. Another series of paintings I especially enjoy, have something to say in the way of morality and self criticism. They are on a wall that seems almost too public. I worry that they will soon be replaced by advertisements. I remember some biting messages that had a short public life before being painted over by someone who didn’t care much for what they said.

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On my walk last week there were the big paintings, colorful and full of life. And there were also some very modest ones that you could easily miss, if not looking for them. Some seemed like footnotes to those ‘in the know’. One of them said, ‘sex now’, and I suppose it was meant as a retort to the many banners of ‘peace now’ that can be seen around the country. The drawing under that title was unexpected, and wide open to interpretation.

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One of the most interesting series I’ve encountered here might have been produced by three separate artists. As they appeared, I imagined two artists adding their works to the original inscription, though it could have been produced by the same artist who came back to the scene and added yet another and then another. All of the illustrations speak of a longing for Jerusalem by the Jews of the diaspora.

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There are these closed metal boxes that one finds all around the city, containing electric meters and connections of sorts. It is common to find paintings on their sides. Sometimes it’s a very abstract composition of form and color, and sometimes a picture of a butterfly or bird. It seems a lot of work was invested into this rendition of the inside of a refrigerator filled with drinks.

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this image was etched into the wall

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57 responses to “street art, Nachlaot

  1. This is a great post! I love it! I shot a photo of the same guy with the sewing machine in Jerusalem.

  2. Really interesting artwork. It must really bring colors to a rather monochrome street, and also, stir up one’s thoughts.

    Loved your post. 🙂

    • It is a pleasure to meet you Nandini. And thank you for your comment. Yes, the more people we listen to, the more we learn. And the graffiti here offers us an opportunity to get to know the thoughts of our neighbors.

  3. I love street art, too. It’s important to photograph as much as possible because it does disappear unexpectedly. I’m glad you’ve documented some of it.

    • I do try to capture some of the new art from time to time. As you probably know, the city has its own magic spell, and so often we’re on our way to do something or meet with someone, and we don’t put that much effort into absorbing all that appears in the many corners of the city. Thanks for your comment, Corina.

  4. I’m amazed by the immensely high standard of this art. Thank you for sharing it with us – it gives me something not only to admire but also to think about.

  5. Some of these graffitis look much more elaborate than the ones we see here in Europe. I suppose it makes it more clear that it is in fact art and as such a form of expression. Especially the photographing girl and the old taylor are quite detailed and vivid, they truly impressed me. Thank you for sharing! Shabbat shalom and stay safe!

    • I remember walking down a street in Europe in the 80s, and seeing a beautiful image painted in chalk on the sidewalk. I remember the sadness I felt that it was not permanent… that after a relatively short period of time it would fade away, and people would be walking on the same sidewalk. But so many years have passed and the memory has stayed with me as a very sweet part of that trip. Thanks for your comment, Labelle, and for your sweet shabbat wishes. Hoping this is a good week for you.

  6. Some are indeed very beautiful and all make one think. I’m fond of street art, but it varies. You have a great eye. Have a good and inspiring weekend

    • I think I could say the same thing about the art I see in galleries and museums, Olga. It varies. Now and then I am very impressed. But I also find things that don’t speak to me. Even when I go to a museum, and there are wonderful examples of great art, I look for a bench to sit down and try and digest what I’ve seen. After a while, I have to step out… because there is just too much to see and accept. That is one of my problems with art. I have to take it in small doses. Thanks very much for your comment.

  7. Amazing. The painting of metal boxes is a great idea. The refrigerator is funny. The etching is something one could easily overlook and finding it would be like uncovering an unexpected treasure. Street art I’ve seen here, as opposed to the ugly tagging, is most often like the first one and isn’t moveable. Thanks for sharing!

    • It’s a great a great pleasure to share some of these examples, Judy. One of my problems when I visit art, is deciding how much to show. I know that I can only take so much. Then I need to rest. But maybe I will come back to this subject now and then, because there is so much more. Thanks for your comment.

  8. So much of the graffiti we see is the sort you mentioned in passing: the “tagging” that’s associated with gangs and bored adolescents who haven’t yet figured out what it means to leave a mark on the world. But this is art of a different sort, and wholly deilghtful.

    I’m struck by the variety, and by the wonderful details in some, like the man with the sewing machine. My mother would have been tickled by that one; like the man, she had a Bernina machine. I’m drawn to the more impressionistic girl with the camera, too.

    What occurs to me is what these examples imply about the community itself. These aren’t dashed off in five minutes at 3 a.m., while no one is looking. The people who’ve created the art surely must have the support of people who appreciate their efforts, or such detailed work never would have been created, or remained on the walls for others to enjoy.

    • I agree with you, that the images seen on the walls and fences say something about the society. We have a lot of different people here in the city, and some have very strong ideas about what is ‘proper’. So I appreciate the tolerance evidenced by the appearance of many different messages. There are things that I don’t care for. And I don’t publish those images. But I am sure that there are some that like them; they too have their audience. Thanks for the comment, Linda

  9. Just wonderful; I always feel hopeful when artists are sharing their work, especially as “publicly” as this. Thank you, Shimon; this was a real treat to view this morning. Gentle peace to you.

    • Very glad that you enjoyed these examples, Kitty. I will have to post such things more often. There is really quite a bit of such work all around the city. There are also expressions of opinion, printed in black and white and posted on walls and bulletin boards. But these are in Hebrew and wouldn’t be understood by most of my readers. Thank you for your sweet wishes. My best to you.

  10. We don’t have much in the way of street art here but some of the train boxcars boast some tremendous works of art and I’m always left wondering which city the originated in.

    • That sounds like a wonderful way of spreading street art around… sending it by boxcars across the country. I would wonder too, where it came from, It’s good to hear of the many ways people keep finding for communication… and art too. Thanks, Linda.

  11. These are great selections of street artworks. These artists try to tell stories. Thank you, Mr. Shimon!

  12. It’s funny how we can witness all sorts of art in various forms, and never even notice it, because our minds are occupied with the every day chatter of living a life. Thank you for taking the time to notice, and for sharing some of it here. Messages shared within artwork are meant to be appreciated, so thanks for giving us an opportunity to appreciate not only the original artwork, but the observant eye behind the camera. 🙂

    • Very good of you to include the recorder, in your appreciation of the art works, Nancy. And what you say is so true. Our lives are always full. There are so many images and stories that fill our thoughts. And sometimes, in order to open us up in order to appreciate one thing, we have to pass by another. All the time choices. Because there is more around us than we could possibly relate to. Sometimes there’s that ache… to know it all… but it’s an impossible romantic notion. Wishing you sweet and peaceful days.

  13. My usual response to graffiti is that the people who are doing it have no right to use (I hesitate to say deface) other people’s property without permission. I’m quite firm when I say that beauty shouldn’t come into it. I do love what you’ve shown us, though, and find myself wavering in my opinion. (ps. The woman with the camera – have you shown her before?).

    • No, I don’t think I’ve shown that picture of the woman with the camera before. I can understand and sympathize with what you said about the issue of private property, Mary. But it seems to me that conventions are changing… faster all the time. And that free expression, especially in the urban environment, is becoming the accepted convention. There’s no question that it is a challenge and sometimes demands a lot of tolerance. And what some see as a benefit is often an imposition for others. But as society become more dense, we are often called upon to sacrifice our own comfort. Thanks so much for your comment.

  14. Wonderful undertaking SHimon. It has always amazed me. Somtimes I feel like it’s “junk”, and other times, decidedly artistic. But then, that’s my judging. I am easily enticed and also frustrated at a piece that looks like a name or a statement but is so abstract (to me) that I can’t read it. You probably don’t know of a story here, that I was informed of now maybe 10 yrs later…the City of Philadelphia got so upset with all the graffiti that they got together with the artists and gave them the chore of doing a wall of their own to keep and to paint. Then the city had them photographed and published as with a tourist encouragement. I might have stated that wrongly but it does sound nice. And with that, and being so happy that you chose to write this, I’ll ask…Why is art? And please forgive me if I’ve asked it before and you’ve already answered it. 😉 Such is the aging brain. The nice part about that is that it’s all new to me.

    • Many books have been written about ‘what is art’, but most critics and students of the subject believe that it has to be intentional, and produced by a human being. It can’t be the result of nature or accident. But it certainly doesn’t have to be in a museum in order to be legitimate art. It is a sort of human communication… something that is not limited by social conventions… that often awakens a subconscious recognition and familiarity. It’s sensual appreciation is it’s own legitimacy, and so it doesn’t have to provide any practical service. An automobile tire is not art. But if it has been cut up to resemble an alligator, it might very well be art. Much of the street art is more appealing to most people of this generation than a lot of the museum art. But people will forever argue about what is good art, because that is essentially a matter of taste. Hoping you run into a lot of art that gives you a kick, Bob, or brings a smile to your face. That’s the sort of thing I look for.

  15. Thank you for dropping by again, Shimon. I figured I should at least see what you’ve been up to lately. I love the photo of you with Nechama in another post and hope you are both well. This is a wonderful subject you wrote about and I believe I mentioned that I have a brother who is (primarily) a street artist based in L.A., but whose murals are all over the world. I will be sure to let you know when he makes it to Jerusalem. Thank you for your lovely blog, as always.
    “Leah” xx

    • Hi Leah. Thanks for coming by. It’s good to see you and hear from you. I was a bit worried because you hadn’t published anything new for a while. Do let me know if your brother ever makes it to Jerusalem. I would love to interview him on the blog, on the subject of street art. Would be glad too, to show him around our city. Always wishing you the very best, good health, and most of all, happiness.

  16. Such intriguing pieces…I like that there is also text that accompanies the images. It’s funny, though, that I have no idea what is being said through the written word. The last piece, with shapes etched into the paint is amazing!

    • Yes, one of the wonderful things about visual art, Kathleen, is that it transcends the boundaries of language. We are a small people, and not many in the world understand out language. It is hard to translate our poetry and prose… often, I think it is hard to understand us. But the paintings can be seen by anyone and understood, more or less. I think I’ll have to post some more of this street art. Glad you liked it.

  17. We don’t have this type of drawing on the walls where I live in Ohio. Here any paintings are by local artists, who are paid for their work. There is no freedom to draw whatever you like, wherever you like.

    • I have the feeling it is going to become more popular as time goes by. It’s in the spirit of the times, and easily available. But I consider it quite fortunate that different cities still have their own personality… that they’re not all the same. That we can choose what sort of society we wan’t to live in, the style, values, and a lot of other things. Wouldn’t want all people to be the same either. Though it does seem as if both people and cities, and the tools we use and the houses we live in are getting more and more to resemble one another… Thanks for your comment, Bev.

  18. Good one. Thanks for sharing these.

  19. You’ve found a great variety of street art – the one etched into the wall is my favorite, for the way it plays with the notions of ruin and things crumbling, the forgotten corner of building now becoming a place of warmth and radiance.

    • Yeah, bluebrightly. I like it too ’cause it’s subtle. If I wasn’t wide awake, I could have gone by it without even noticing. And it has character too.

  20. What splendid street art. It provides a richness of life almost too complex to express any other way.

    • Some people complain that there’s too much scribbling on the walls. Of course, you realize that I chose the stuff that spoke to me. But even if I go into a museum, there are things I like, and others I don’t. It’s all a matter of individual taste. But I agree with you menhir, I do see it as an enrichment.

  21. A really interesting and diverse series Shimon!

  22. What variety! I did enjoy looking at all of them. I was astonished at the four legged fish….how creative is that? The fridge painting had me completely fooled, I actually thought that was a fridge full of drinks!!! Gosh! I was also drawn to the woman with the camera in the Klimt skirt…..fascinating! What a wonderful ending, that etching is marvelous!xxx

    • I most enjoy these paintings when they sneak up on me. That’s what happened with that etching. I almost missed it. And some of them are really in forgotten corners and dead end streets. I know you’d love them, Dina. I think I will return to this subject from time to time. There is so much to be found… thanks for the comment. xxx

  23. Extraordinary! And wonderful that you chronicle this art… Is there a book in it…? Something to consider. A wonderful post, Shimon! J&A

    • So glad you enjoyed the images, J&A. Actually, I have a lot more, and when I posted these, I was thinking of returning to the subject soon. And of course, there are new things all the time. It is easier to find them in the summer, though. I think I will publish more. Thanks for your comment.

  24. Hi Shimon, How fortunate I am to stumble upon your blog, your story-telling, your images. I lived for a time in Rechavia, Jerusalem – initially during the first Intifada (while studying at Bezalel). I remember Nachlaot well, long meanderings down narrow winding streets, overhanging trees, fragrant blossoms, little shops and cafes on corners. I look forward to more posts! Shabbat shalom, Amit

    • The first Intifada was a difficult time, but how wonderful for you to have lived for a while in Rechavia, which is a very beautiful neighborhood, and Nachlaot is right nearby. When I was young, I did quite a bit of travelling too, wanting to see what the world was like, to meet other people. to see other possibilities in this life, so I can really appreciate your adventures. Wishing you health and happiness, Amit, and inspiration along the way. A good week too.

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