Jerusalem's bars dabble in the visual arts
In recent months, more and more Jerusalem nightlife venues have begun hosting gallery-style art exhibitions. This past summer, HaCasetta (the retro bar brought to you by the owners of Stardust and Hataklit) hosted an exhibit of local artist Erin Tzofef's drawings. At the same time, Mia, the well-stocked lounge named for the heroine of Pulp Fiction, Mia Wallace, featured an exhibit of its own, "Photographs, Drawings, and the People Between Them," with the works of Yael Agor Orgel and Racheli Mizrachi.
When hungry Jerusalem artists look for their works to be visible to the masses, rather than just to the upscale gallery-going elite, a pub seems as good a place as any to begin. And for managers at nightlife spots looking to up their "quality" factor - or at least provide patrons with an interesting topic of conversation when the drinks are not enough - gallery-style exhibitions can be game-changers.
Indeed, there seems to be a general trend in Jerusalem of blurring the lines between nightlife and high culture, with the Jerusalem Sound Gallery opening next door (and with the support of) the famed alt-pub Uganda to promote aural art to Jerusalem's night crawlers (the gallery, which features "sound exhibits" does not even open its doors until 20:00).
At Colony, which bills itself as a "salon food bar," the walls are regularly decorated with the art of local and international artists, with exhibits changing periodically. The exhibits kicked off in January 2011, with a display of canvases by Armenian painter and sculptor Boomants, whose works are playful explorations of texture, color, shapes and light, through the prism of fantastical, fairy tale-like subject matter. Boomants's works have shown in exhibitions throughout Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Colony's Marketing Manager Adi Talmor tells GoGerusalem.com that the nightlife hot-spot's move into the art scene came about "because we want to create a certain atmosphere for our customers, and art contributes to the atmosphere."
It's about positioning the venue as something beyond a place to eat or party. "We want customers to come to Colony and see that it's not just a restaurant - it's a culinary institution with much more to offer than just food and drink," he says. "People who love art connect to the art; people who love events connect to the parties. We want people who come to Colony to be able to enjoy it in more than one way."
But Talmor recognizes that he's also providing valuable exposure for the talent. "Over 10,000 people come to Colony each month, so these displays really help promote the artists - it's priceless for them," he asserts. "And it has already garnered interest with people who come in and see the exhibit and ask if their own work can be displayed here as well. It gives the place a buzz."
Tuvya, a local haunt, likewise inaugurated a rotating art exhibition space in January 2011, with David Suzana, the director of Jerusalem's municipal gallery, in attendance. At Tuvya, the exhibits feature the works of up-and-comers. Proprietor Yakov Bennanika tells GoGerusalem.com that "We all want to promote art and culture here in Jerusalem, and
that's great. At Tuvya we are specifically promoting the work of young
artists, we're giving them a stage, providing them with a space they
don't currently have."
Bennanika puts the exhibition space into the broader context of the city's recent efforts to keep its young artists engaged and active. "Jerusalem is a great place, and lots of people want to come here, and I believe we need to develop its culture," he opines. "Culture includes many things. I run a bar, so I work through the bar, doing what I can to promote Jerusalem culture."
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