Leading bloggers wowed by Israel’s art scene

‘My perception is that a stage is being set for a really exciting future,’ predicts Christopher Jobson of Colossal.

Virginia Cody Mauer admiring playful art. Photo by Or Kaplan


There’s no doubt that Israel’s contemporary art scene is flourishing. A recent visit by five international art bloggers – with millions of avid readers — could now make Israeli artists household names abroad.

Christopher Jobson – founder and writer of Colossal, one of the top 50 blogs on the web – said that the “startup spirit” impressed him most during his visit here.

“What I’m seeing is a lot of innovation. I’m seeing a culture, actually multiple cultures, that are trying to really create something that is unique and different and original,” Jobson told ISRAEL21c during a tour of the Shpilman Institute for Photography in Tel Aviv. “I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the quality and variety.”

More than three million readers on his Webby-nominated blog dedicated to art and visual culture vie for Jobson’s attention. For a week in December, he zeroed in on Israeli creators.

Art bloggers visiting the Baha’i Gardens. Photo by Or Kaplan

 

Jobson came to our shores with the Kinetis nonprofit educational organization’s latest Vibe Israel blogging trip. Kinetis has brought influential bloggers from a variety of fields – music to fashion, motherhood to ecology – for week-long, all-expenses-paid trips to help get the message out that Israel, like elsewhere, is made up of multiple layers that the world doesn’t always know about.

“We choose areas that there’s a lot of chatter and interest. We don’t necessarily choose areas that Israel is a leader in because, as much as I appreciate Israel, we’re not leaders in everything. However, if there’s an online conversation that we can introduce Israel into, then that’s what we’re trying to do. Contemporary art is something a lot of people read about,” Kinetis founder Joanna Landau tells ISRAEL21c.

From left, Christopher Jobson, Shalom Shpilman, Viva Sarah Press, Virginia Cody Mauer, Redia Soltis and Adi Koren of Kinetis at the Shpilman Institute for Photography in Tel Aviv. Photo by Or Kaplan

The recent art trip participants met up with top artists, visited the country’s museums, and even got to experience snow in Jerusalem.

Jobson says the desire of Israeli artists – individuals or groups – to “come together and build something that does not exist” really piqued his interest. “I do see established organizations that have been around for many years but what we’ve been introduced to are people who are getting together either with funding or even without funding and trying to figure out something that hasn’t been done before, how are we going to create a gallery with 40 people. And I find that very admirable,” he says.

Joining Jobson were Nastia Voynovskaya (HI Fructose), Hannah Stouffer (Juxtapoz), Virginia Cody Mauer (FADwebsite), and Redia Soltis (01 Magazine).

Mauer says the quality of the art in Israel is level with what’s being done everywhere.

“Not to say that I knew exactly what kind of art I was going to see but I wasn’t, like, ‘Oh, Israeli art is so different.’ It’s art. It’s expression. It’s exploring. It’s trying to relate and understand what’s going on amongst them in a contemporary age.”

The bloggers tweeted, posted on Facebook and blogged on their sites all about their trip in Israel.

Bloggers getting acquainted with Haifa’s art scene. Photo by Or Kaplan

 

“The message that I [am taking] back is how much is emerging here right now,” says Jobson, who also noted a new love for Israeli food.

“I feel like there’s a framework being built. Of course there are many active artists and they have been here a long time, but my perception is that a stage is being set for a really exciting future — not disregarding what is happening right now, but I feel there is a lot more to come. There’s something happening here.”

He pauses, then gives that “something” a name: “A startup spirit,” he says.
 

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. She has jumped out of a plane, ducked rockets and been attacked by a baboon all in the name of a good story. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.