Archive for December, 2007

Although I wouldn’t regularly give any mention to the civil new year, this does seem a good time to reflect on the passing of 2007 and my art achievements of the year.

So here goes:

  • I painted twice as many paintings as in 2006 (15 vs. 7)
  • I opened a tax file as a small business
  • I sold twice as many paintings as in 2006 (2 vs. 1)
  • I did my first commission
  • I got representation in a commercial art gallery
  • I made two short movies showing my painting process

Not bad. So what are my goals for 2008?

I was going to be a bit wishy-washy but then I read Maggie Stiefvater’s post on setting goals and I decided to go for some real ones:

  1. Paint at least as many paintings as last year
  2. Only paint pictures I think I will enjoy doing
  3. Do a solo show
  4. Sell three pictures
  5. Donate a painting for display in a public space
  6. Paint an abstract painting
  7. Paint or draw a portrait

Those are not walkovers. The number of paintings I do will depend on both time and inspiration as number 2 rules out knocking off paintings just to meet the goal. The solo show is something I can do (either to organize one at Nofim gallery or maybe something else). Selling three pictures doesn’t depend only on me and seeing as I mustn’t paint just to sell (goal 2) I need to go find my market (this is the implicit goal here). The donation bit is an idea I have to improve my visibility. The last two might contradict number 2 but they are investment in things I would like to be able to do.

OK, so let’s get going!

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Don’t talk about it, do it

I was recently having a conversation with my wife about a program we heard on the radio while working together in the kitchen. It was one of those magazine programs with articles about all kinds of subjects and they were having a roll on talking about food.

First there was an article about some Tunisian snack – I can’t remember what – and they interviewed some north African ethnic cookery expert who explained how to make it. The next article was about wine. What wine goes with what food, how to choose a wine for a meal and all that stuff.

Wife says; “I can’t stand people talking about wine. It’s so pretentious (paltzani in Hebrew).

I say; “I don’t like people talking about food. Why is the wine any worse than the Tunisian sandwich?”

It may not be normal, but I find that culinary discussions to sometimes verge on the pornographic. For me the discussion of techniques and recipes to bring exquisite pleasure to a diner by tantalizing his taste buds, is a voyeuristic experience a bit like discussing techniques to bring exquisite pleasure to…. well you know what I mean.

It can also be pretentious. And it doesn’t matter if you are talking about “authentic” ethnic cookery or “prestigious” wines.

Another thing that makes me feel uneasy is reading art reviews and even more so, manifestos. Albeit, there are differences between a Tunisian sandwich, the Karma Sutra and a newspaper review of an art exhibit, but they all bring me to the same feeling of “stop talking about it and get on with it”.

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On my way to work the other morning, I was tolking with the driver of our van and turns out he is a spare time artist. Up at the crack of dawn, drives all day and paints. Cool. I hope to get some images and if I can I’ll post them here. Remember, you first heard about Ami Daniel here :-).

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Yes , “consuming” culture, not “consumer” culture. This phrase may look a little weird in English but looks just fine in modern Hebrew – “Litzrokh Tarbut” or “לצרוך תרבות”.

Right now we are celebrating the Jewish festival of Hanukka. Hanukka (which means “dedication”) is the festival that celebrates the victory of the Macabees over the Greeks. What a lot of people miss is that the fight was not over survival in a physical sense but rather a clash of cultures. The Macabees were fighting a fight for religious freedom and even more so, a fight to be freed from the influence of the foreign global culture of their day.

Anyway… so I was reading the handout sheets they have in have sitting around on Shabbat in most synagogues here in Israel. They are published by all kinds of organizations with studies on the weekly reading from the Torah and a heavy helping of opinion. In honor of Hanukka they all had articles (each according to its editorial line) drawing parallels between the fight of the Macabees and current day events. In the midst of an article I was reading calling for Jewish cultural and artistic revival, I came across a sentence that caught my eye. It was warning me to be careful of the large amounts of foreign culture that I consume and that we need to consume more Jewish culture.

“Consume”. An interesting term to use. Is culture something that we consume? Can you consume culture? In English, the word is particularly out of place, because culture is a rather abstract object and consumption means that something is getting used up, burnt or devoured. In Hebrew, the word is Litzrokh which comes from the same root as “to need” – Tzarikh. “Mitzrakhim” are commodities or consumables of the type you buy in the supermarket.

I understand what the writer meant here but I challenge his assumptions. He is refering to the music we hear, the movies we watch and the brand names we wear. This is the culture that we live in, one where to be part of it you need to buy and consume its artifacts. He is proposing that we substitute the consumption of artifacts of the Western Greco-Christian culture with consumption of “Jewish” artifacts. I think he has missed the point.

Culture is the context in which people live in a certain place and time. It is the context of their art, their language, their customs, the things they value and the things they hate. Millions and zillions of dollars, euros, shekels and whatever currency have been spent on selling us the idea that culture is something we have to acquire and consume. But culture is something else. It is the air, the sounds, the thoughts, the heritage and the zeitgeist. It cannot be consumed.

If we really want to make a difference in the way we live we need to stop consuming culture and start living it.

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A Green Hannuka?

I just read a blog about a daft proposal to light less Hanukka candles in order to do our bit to save the world from greenhouse gasses.

As the writer correctly notes, this is the kind of daft suggestion that gives the environmentalist movement a bad name. We should be concentrating on the real issues – promoting a sustainable and sensible level of energy and resource usage.

Interestingly, the Ashkenazim are the offenders here. The Sefaradim have a much greener Hannuka as they only light one Menora/Hannukia per household. If these green Hannuka guys new about Halacha (Jewish law), they could have suggested following the Sefaradim on this or alternatively going back to the original custom related in the Gemarra of lighting a single light every night.

Incidentally the conclusion of the Halacha was to light progressively more lights every night in order to symbolize the idea of the small lone light getting bigger and spreading as the festival goes on. Personally I’ll keep my Hannuka that way.

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Happy Hanukka!

A happy Hanukka to all my readers!

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