By Sydney Peters
Over the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of traveling throughout Europe, Asia and just the tiniest bit of Africa. I love wandering down side streets and finding out all a city has to offer, even if it’s staring at a masterpiece on a brick wall. Sometimes it's just one graffitied word and other times it’s a whole building that has been transformed into a piece of art.
For these reasons, Berlin was my all-time favorite city for street art. That is, until I moved to Israel to teach English in Be’er Sheva on Masa Israel Teaching Fellows. Here in this gorgeous land that boasts a huge art scene, you can’t walk down a street without finding at least one speckled and worded up work of art plastered on the side of a building.
Israeli street art has a voice of its own. There are some pieces that have been up for decades because the government has found them to be that important. There are other areas where pieces may last only a few hours before someone has something else to say. After all, our people are known for being opinionated. So, enough with the text and on to the beauty of Israeli street art.
Here are a few of my favorites:
12. My parents came to visit recently and while we were walking through the vibrant streets of Tel Aviv I came across this tag. One of my favorite things to do when I visit a new city is to grab a map, orient myself and wander in any direction. I always know I can pull my map out and become ‘unlost,’ but there is no better way to get to know a city than to get lost.
11. This fall, after a hectic first week of settling into our new city of Be’er Sheva, one of our first group activities was a scavenger hunt of the old city (yep, Be’er Sheva has one, too). As we walked by this piece, everyone immediately whipped out their phones, firing up Snapchat to share it with everyone back home. This piece is a friendly reminder of how much I’ve grown since the beginning of September and how much of a home Be’er Sheva has become.
10. One weekend I visited some Masa friends in Netanya and I was totally shocked when I was greeted by large murals like this one. Until then, Netanya didn’t strike me as the artsiest community, but now I’m counting down the days until I can visit again. This piece was such a wave of nostalgia; I always dreamed riding the Magic School Bus as a kid. And, let’s be honest, who didn’t want Miss Frizzle as their teacher?
9. This unique piece of multi-media street art can be found in Tel Aviv’s Florentin neighborhood. The frames are actually made out of wood, there are googly eyes on the bench, and stickers throughout. It adds a whole new level of dimension to the piece and keeps your eyes constantly wandering. I spent at least a half an hour at this wall, photographing it from every angle.
8. Do you know who all of these musicians are and why they’re memorialized here in Florentin? Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, to name a few. They’re all members of the 27 club, meaning they all died when they were the age of 27. You may be asking, who is the man on the far right? It’s believed to be the artist, Jonathan Kislev. According to my guide, there is some argument as to whether or not the pink paint over Kislev’s fast was done by Kislev himself or another artist. One rumor is that Kislev was so disappointed in all that he hadn’t accomplished by the age of 27, that he included paint to cover his face.
7. Ever since street art angel wings starting dominating my Instagram, I’ve been on the hunt for them. I even saw a post claiming that there was a set in Florentin, so I spent over an hour searching for them with no luck. However, did I get lucky when a friend in Netanya sent me a picture of these and they did not disappoint.
6. One of the things I find so fascinating about street art is how it’s constantly changing. This alleyway in Florentin, is one of the very places where you can see a piece one day and the next day it’s covered with something new. I could walk around this alley staring at the different tags for hours.
5. Technology has become such a permanent part of our lives in so many ways. I’ve seen this piece throughout Tel Aviv, but this photo was taken near Shuk HaCarmel. I think it’s a good reminder to put our phones down for a moment and appreciate everything that is around us. I mean, if you have your nose in your phone, would you even see this when walking by?
4. I decided not to save the world today.” Haven’t we all thought this? These are so many pressures in our lives, sometimes it’s just nice to not think about one. I also really love the typography on this piece, which I found meandering down the many streets of Florentin.
3. One of my favorite sayings is “I’m just one wanderlusting soul in this big, bad world.” If I asked someone to create a representation of that, this piece in Netanya would be a great pick.
2. Outside of Machane Yehuda, I haven’t seen a lot of street art in Jerusalem. While my parents were in town, we wandered down a side street and came across a lovely spread of street art. This tree of life was one of my favorites. I bought myself a tree of life ring during first solo trip to Europe in 2014, and I’ve found myself drawn to the symbol ever since.
1. It’s quite common to find the word ‘Coexist’ spray painted on walls near Tel Aviv’s Shuk HaCarmel. To me it represents the diversity and acceptance of Tel Aviv itself – a city, packed with tourists from every corner of the world and known for its vibrant the LGBTQ community. Here’s a pic of a spray painted ‘Coexist’ on RamBam Street.
Sydney Peterson is a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Be'er Sheva, where she serves as an English teaching assistant in a local elementary school. Outside the classroom, she seizes every opportunity for adventure in Israel and around the world. She loves searching for street art, immersing herself in new cultures and eating her way through new cities.