I started the morning with a loose plan: load more money on my transit card and there were some art galleries I found on google maps that I wanted to check out. Nice they were all all around city hall, just north of the Old City.
I walked along the Railway Park which runs for over 8 kil. across Jerusalem. I use it as often as I can so I don’t have to walk near traffic, these are very angry drivers here in Jerusalem! I stop and have coffee at Aroma in German Quarter, one of my favorite communities. If you know Vancouver it is similar to Kits, but older and more Jewish.
Then I jump on the bus to City Hall but after I get out I am distracted by the playful blasts of color emanating from the Eden Gallery! They are an international chain but this is my first time in one. While it is super-duper slick art, I am still smiling just thinking about it. This one was so cool! It’s made of metal!
I finally make it up to where I can load up my transit card by City Hall. The machine is tricky because it offers English but then after you tell it what you want, it switches to Hebrew! Luckily the guy behind me realizes if he doesn’t help me, he won’t ever get his turn. 🙂
With that errand complete I am completely unfettered by any ‘need to’s’ or ‘shoulds’ so I start wandering in the general direction of my first gallery.
But first maybe I ‘nip’ into the Municipal Art Gallery… which, from the outside, is one of the most uninviting galleries I have ever seen! The windows are mirrored for goodness sake so you have no idea what is inside and they have to buzz you in! The painted cello was interesting.
By now I am getting peckish so I consult my trusty travel companion, google maps, and discover a wee hole in the wall called Hamarakia that I would never have found on my own. And it is vegetarian… and so much more. It is furnished with shabby flea market treasures and is owned and run by a most awesome dude! He is knowledgable about so many things and is generous with the sharing of it. I had the House Salad (amazing) and, of course, hummus and pita (also excellent). He was making a cilantro pesto and gave me a taste when he was done, so yummy!
Sated and inspired I go in search of Sarah’s Tent, the gallery I found on google maps. Of course I expected/hoped it would be a gallery run by a woman for women artists because of the name. But no. But it is run by a man who could be from the same tribe as my new friend at the restaurant. Gabriel had a jester sense of humor and an instinct of how to poke the hive for a particular individual. Within seconds he was proclaiming to be a fan of the enfant terrible running the US. But within seconds of that, I had his number and refused to participate so we turned our attention to the awesome art work in his gallery. He acted as if I was an old customer that he’s known for years and had all the time in the world for. He explained the elaborate process that one of the artists went through to create the desired effect to make sure I would truly appreciate the work. Then I got to hear his Israel story, I think most new citizens have one. I’m finding out that the pull of Israel to Jews around the world is magnetic and mystical and defies logic. When another customer came in I bid him farewell and wished him well and was on my way.
I had seen photos of a street in Jerusalem with tons of umbrellas overhead but no name… well it has a name and it is Salomon Street! And I found it at the same time as the Guild of Ceramists ( 27 Salomon Street ) where I met a Seattle, Washington transplant, Debbie Glickman, who was holding down the shop that day. Her work was sooooo Seattle! She has discovered salt firing and is enthralled. But her work was such an anomaly because the rest of the artists are all from Russia and while each are very individual, they have the thread of heritage running through their work that creates a unity. I’m afraid Seattle sticks out but I wish her well, she is obviously talented. Check out her FB page, the header has an awesome video of her pulling pots from the fire!
I heard her Israel story too before other customers came in to claim her attention. She has been in Israel for decades and occasionally gets disgusted and goes back to Seattle but it doesn’t take long before she is pulled back to her land.
All three of these people (and others I have talked to) are not blind rabid fans of Israel, far from it but I think she’s been in their blood before they even had blood and the lure of having a home, a place where they are the majority is a drug that is hard to resist. I understand that more than most since I’ve really never had a home. Growing up in army camps and moving every 3 years I yearn for roots I’ve never had.
I see all these people, so different from each other from all the corners of the world and they have one thing in common, a religion that seems to be as much a race as a faith, so strong it feels like it has its own DNA code. That is their roots, and that I think is what makes it work here in a messy loud obnoxious way. No matter how the factions fight (and boy do they fight!) they share that DNA. Hmmmm Like the tribes of Abraham have all been carrying around a little piece of the root, waiting to get their country back so they could plant it, passing it from one generation to the next. Until in 1948 Israel became a nation and it was like all those roots became magnetized and Israel became magnetic north.
It makes for a fascinating Stone Soup of a country I must say!