Immigrants and Refugees

Just as the US is a nation of refugees and immigrants, so is Israel.  Israel is one of the few countries that still accepts (if you are the right “kind”) refugees on an annual basis.  In the early 1990s 500,000 Russians immigrated and just last year 16,000 French Jews sought refuge in Israel.  It’s no mystery why people seek refuge and two exhibitions at the Israel Museum address this.  The two exhibitions are purposely in adjoining galleries even though they deal with different times and different issues.  The first is an exhibit of photographs by Yaakov Shofar entitled “Born in Israel” which documents the social history of Israel in the 1970s (a time when I lived in Jerusalem for a year), the time of the Black Panthers movement.  It was a protest movement of young people from the Musrara and Katamon neighborhoods in Jerusalem, where immigrants from North African countries were housed starting a few years after the independence of Israel.  They were protesting the violent attitudes of the police and the judicial system which was prejudiced against them.  The leaders of the State at that time opened discussions with the young Panthers by asking “Were you born in Israel?” It makes us think about the question of origin and underlies the social tensions in Israel then and now. Of course it resonates for Americans at the current moment as well.

The second exhibition is also photography by Ron Amir called “Doing Time in Holot”.  Amir’s work has been dedicated to bringing marginalized communities to our attention in photography and video.  This show focuses on African migrants and asylum seekers who have basically walked across Africa (rather than making the risky Mediterranean crossings we hear about in the media).  The photographs and videos were created over a three year period and mostly are empty of people, just their presence is noted.  The Holon Detention Center is located in a desolate area of Israel near the Egyptian border and houses 3000 people mostly from Sudan and Eritrea. The inmates must be inside during the night and be accounted for.  They are given food, shelter, and some money.  It’s a difficult issue since Israel ha been a refuge throughout its history, so how can people be turned away though it’s impossible to take an unlimited number of people as well.  As always it’s complicated.

This brings me to the end of my current trip.  It’s raining as we prepare to leave Israel.  The holiday of Tu Beshvat was celebrated while we were here and even though it’s winter the trees are beginning to bud.  It’s all good preparation for returning to the north coast of California.

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Yaakov Shofar, from the series “Born in Israel”, 1972-1982, photograph
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Yaakov Shofar, from the series “Born in Israel”, 1972-1982, photograph
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Yaakov Shofar, from the series “Born in Israel”, 1972-1982, photograph
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Yaakov Shofar, from the series “Born in Israel”, 1972-1982, photograph
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Ron Amir, “Roof”, 2016
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Ron Amir, “Kitchen, front view”, 2015
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Ron Amir, “Aboud’s Bed”, 2016
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Rom Amir, “Bisharah and Anwar’s Tree”, 2015
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Ron Amir, “If you Ask Me I will Stay”, 2015
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This video had no words but none are needed, waiting seems to be what this whole situation is about for these migrants.
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Sefat Emet Street with one of the newly planted trees just in time for Tu Beshvat. The Sefat Emet was a Hassidic Rabbi of the 19th century whose interpretation of the Torah translates as "The Language of Truth". Tu Beshvat is a winter holiday that is also known as the New Year of the trees.
Sefat Emet Street with one of the newly planted trees just in time for Tu Beshvat. The Sefat Emet was a Hassidic Rabbi of the 19th century whose interpretation of the Torah translates as “The Language of Truth”. Tu Beshvat is a winter holiday that is also known as the New Year of the trees. It all seems to fit together at the end of another remarkable stay in Jerusalem.
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Sunrise over Western Jerusalem in the rain and a farewell for now.

The Storeroom

A friend in Mendocino has a cousin who has worked in the antiquities department of the Israel Museum for over 30 years.  His speciality is art from the 3rd to 5th centuries (so ancient Rome to Byzantine).  We met at the museum and he spent several hours taking us “behind the scenes”.  It was amazing and I’m sharing some of what we saw.

True to its title of storeroom, these are shelves and shelves of ossuaries (bone boxes). When a person died in ancient Israel their body was laid in a family burial cave for one year and at the end of that year the bones were collected and placed into one of these boxes and still kept in the cave along with other family members.
True to its title of storeroom, these are shelves and shelves of ossuaries (bone boxes). When a person died in ancient Israel their body was laid in a family burial cave for one year and at the end of that year the bones were collected and placed into one of these boxes and still kept in the cave along with other family members.
Shelves to the ceiling contain all sorts of pieces, reconstructed and otherwise. On the bottom here is a huge urn that is more reconstruction than actual pieces of marble, likely a gift to Herod from a Roman general in Egypt.
Shelves to the ceiling contain all sorts of pieces, reconstructed and otherwise. On the bottom here is a huge urn that is more reconstruction than actual pieces of marble, likely a gift to Herod from a Roman general in Egypt.
We talk about archaeology in class and here you can see what the museum gets from the archaeologists that has to be studied and perhaps put back together. This is a close up of one of the boxes you'll see in the next image.
We talk about archaeology in class and here you can see what the museum gets from the archaeologists that has to be studied and perhaps put back together. This is a close up of one of the boxes you’ll see in the next image.
Parts from a synagogue in northern Israel. We heard about many excavations taking place right now in small villages around the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.
Parts from a synagogue in northern Israel. We heard about many excavations taking place right now in small villages around the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.
Very grand are architectural elements like these columns about to be shipped back to Herodium, to be placed in a new section that has been restored. Herodium was a pleasure place built on the top of a hill by Herod sometime around 23 BCE.
Very grand are architectural elements like these columns about to be shipped back to Herodium, to be placed in a new section that has been restored. Herodium was a pleasure place built on the top of a hill by Herod sometime around 23 BCE.
A close up of the columns shows you how the drums were put back together as they likely were excavated in pieces.
A close up of the columns shows you how the drums were put back together as they likely were excavated in pieces.
Also from Herod's time is this giant tub that looks like it was made from alabaster. We were told that Herod always used materials from the site, never bringing things from other places. This tub which was meant to be outdoors (with heated water- a hot tub without the jets) was carved from some local stone that has the appearance of marble.
Also from Herod’s time is this giant tub that looks like it was made from alabaster. We were told that Herod always used materials from the site, never bringing things from other places. This tub which was meant to be outdoors (with heated water- a hot tub without the jets) was carved from some local stone that has the appearance of marble.
Lead clamps on the side of the tub where it cracked. This object too is being made ready to return to the site.
Lead clamps on the side of the tub where it cracked. This object too is being made ready to return to the site.
They are working on an upcoming exhibition on 3rd to 4th century synagogues and in preparation they are collecting and restoring all kinds of objects. A restored synagogue wall was in the last blog post. These are pieces from a screen at the front of an ancient synagogue in Gaza. The museum has had these pieces since the 1960s and apparently there were many synagogues there in ancient times. This frame is clear so the back side can be traced and the elements that are missing can be added in some other material so that the viewer gets the sense of how it looked when it was in its full glory.
They are working on an upcoming exhibition on 3rd to 4th century synagogues and in preparation they are collecting and restoring all kinds of objects. A restored synagogue wall was in the last blog post. These are pieces from a screen at the front of an ancient synagogue in Gaza. The museum has had these pieces since the 1960s and apparently there were many synagogues there in ancient times. This frame is clear so the back side can be traced and the elements that are missing can be added in some other material so that the viewer gets the sense of how it looked when it was in its full glory.

 

 

Mosaics are a huge part of any site from the 3rd to 5th centuries and beyond. We got to see several pieces that have recently been excavated and as you can see are in the process of restoration for the show. This one includes the name of the donor (nothing new here).
Mosaics are a huge part of any site from the 3rd to 5th centuries and beyond. We got to see several pieces that have recently been excavated and as you can see are in the process of restoration for the show. This one includes the name of the donor (nothing new here). What is new is the imagery of the menorah (not the Chanukah one, the seven branched one from the Temple) which shows the flames facing the same direction on each side towards the center taller one. You can see where the restorers have drawn in the pieces that are missing.

 

At first glance this looks like ordinary workers or perhaps the image of the Tower of Babel as the central figures look like they are fighting. What it is, is an image of building the first Temple in Jerusalem.
At first glance this looks like ordinary workers or perhaps the image of the Tower of Babel as the central figures look like they are fighting. What it is, is an image of building the first Temple in Jerusalem.

 

This fragments was so interesting especially since this is the portion of the Torah (Jewish bible) that is being read right now in synagogues across the world. The depiction is of the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of the Egyptians as they chase the Israelites. Oddly on the other side of the sea is a temple, not in the biblical text- artistic license I suppose.
This fragments was so interesting especially since this is the portion of the Torah (Jewish bible) that is being read right now in synagogues across the world. The depiction is of the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of the Egyptians as they chased the Israelites. Oddly on the other side of the sea is a temple, not in the biblical text- artistic license I suppose. The chariots are collapsing and there is a giant fish.
Another fascinating synagogue that will be included in the exhibition has a mosaic floor that is already on display and has been in the museum's collection for a long time. It is a large mosaic detailing the rules of Shmita (the biblical injunction that says the land must be left fallow every seventh year). We were in Israel during a shmita year and if you look back in the blog posts you'll find quite a bit about this. This particular mosaic goes into extreme detail about what can and cannot be planted, harvested, and eaten during that year.
Another fascinating synagogue that will be included in the exhibition has a mosaic floor that is already on display and has been in the museum’s collection for a long time. It is a large mosaic detailing the rules of Shmita (the biblical injunction that says the land must be left fallow every seventh year). We were in Israel during a shmita year and if you look back in the blog posts you’ll find quite a bit about this. This particular mosaic goes into extreme detail about what can and cannot be planted, harvested, and eaten during that year.
We often talk about how ancient writing is deciphered and here you can see it in action. The same synagogue that has the mosaic floor about shmita had frescoed walls of inscriptions (no imagery). Here you can see how they put the pieces of fresco back together and then figure out what it says.
We often talk about how ancient writing is deciphered and here you can see it in action. The same synagogue that has the mosaic floor about shmita had frescoed walls of inscriptions (no imagery). Here you can see how they put the pieces of fresco back together and then figure out what it says.
One of the museum's functions is to collect, display, and also to lend. Here you can see one of the drawers (there are many) of oil lamps which were used by all the different civilizations in the ancient world.
One of the museum’s functions is to collect, display, and also to lend. Here you can see one of the drawers (there are many) of oil lamps which were used by all the different civilizations in the ancient world.
Here is a modest but very fine collection that was given to the museum by a private collector whose interest was Christian pilgrims. As they traveled they collected souvenirs (as people still do). The object you see in the foreground is a drinking flask with Christian symbols on it.
Here is a modest but very fine collection that was given to the museum by a private collector whose interest was Christian pilgrims. As they traveled they collected souvenirs (as people still do). The object you see in the foreground is a drinking flask with Christian symbols on it.

 

A beautiful glass jar with has a Christian arch on the front.
A beautiful glass jar which has a Christian arch on the front.
Most interesting was this amulet that shows a saint on the front made from some kind of earth material that was claimed to have restorative properties so the pilgrim who purchased this could shave off a little, mix it with water when he or she was ill and be restored to health.
Most interesting was this amulet that shows a saint on the front made from some kind of earthen material that was claimed to have restorative properties so the pilgrim who purchased this could shave off a little, mix it with water when he or she was ill and be restored to health.

 

 

 

 

The museum is very excited to have been asked for some works to be lent to an Islamic Museum in Paris. This is a first for them both. Good will?
The museum is very excited to have been asked for some works to be lent to an Islamic Museum in Paris. This is a first for them both. Good will?
These are oil lamps that will be lent with glass vials that hold the oil hanging down through the holes you see.
These are oil lamps that will be lent with glass vials that hold the oil hanging down through the holes you see.
A demonstration of the lamps. Imagine the beautiful blue glow that would result.
A demonstration of the lamps. Imagine the beautiful blue glow that would result.
Several years ago there was a large exhibition about Hadrian, the Roman emperor who traveled and conquered widely and was quite accomplished in many ways. One of the controversies in this part of the world is that he changed the name from Canaan to Palestina. As you can see he was quite a confident and handsome man. The first emperor to grow a beard. The next several followed suit.
Several years ago there was a large exhibition about Hadrian, the Roman emperor who traveled and conquered widely and was quite accomplished in many ways. One of the controversies in this part of the world is that he changed the name from Canaan to Palestina. As you can see he was quite a confident and handsome man. The first emperor to grow a beard. The next several followed suit.
In preparation for that exhibition one of the curators who thought the hairstyle wrong for that time period created a plaster bust with a different "doo". The rest of the face stayed exactly the same. Isn't it remarkable how different they look.
In preparation for that exhibition one of the curators who thought the hairstyle wrong for that time period created a plaster bust with a different “doo”. The rest of the face stayed exactly the same. Isn’t it remarkable how different they look.
Here is one of the only bronze busts of Hadrian in the world. The mystery is that this was transported with troops from one place to another and this one was somehow left behind when the garrison moved on. Who knows why so they are planning to excavate in the area to see if they can solve the puzzle. This one was found buried by a local person who was using one of those metal detectors looking for ancient coins!
Here is one of the only bronze busts of Hadrian in the world. The mystery is that this was transported with troops from one place to another and this one was somehow left behind when the garrison moved on. Who knows why so they are planning to excavate in the area to see if they can solve the puzzle. This one was found by a local person who was using one of those metal detectors looking for ancient coins!
Another mystery from the same area is this very large fragment of inscribed marble touting Hadrian's importance found in the same area. The pieces are as big as those found in the Pantheon in Rome. Why and why here?
Another mystery from the same area is this very large fragment of inscribed marble touting Hadrian’s importance found in the same area. The pieces are as big as those found in the Pantheon in Rome. Why and why here?
As we moved from the storeroom to the galleries of the museum for a few tidbits of a private tour we saw works from Beit Shean. An amazing huge site in northern Israel that I blogged about last summer. As you can see some things, especially delicate works that would not survive outside stay in the museum.
As we moved from the storeroom to the galleries of the museum for a few tidbits of a private tour we saw works from Beit Shean. An amazing huge site in northern Israel that I blogged about last summer. As you can see some things, especially delicate works that would not survive outside stay in the museum.
This Aphrodite was excavated at Beith Shean in 2001. She is remarkable because she still has some of the paint pigment on her. We see sculptures from this time and assume they were pure white marble when in fact they were fully painted with vivid colors. Once buried much of this disappears if not all so this is an exceptional work.
This Aphrodite was excavated at Beith Shean in 2001. She is remarkable because she still has some of the paint pigment on her. We see sculptures from this time and assume they were pure white marble when in fact they were fully painted with vivid colors. Once buried much of this disappears if not all so this is an exceptional work.
Before departing from our amazing tour we were treated to two more mosaics, this one of King David playing his lute. This is the oldest known synagogue mosaic from Hamam near the Sea of Galilee. The dating of these mosaics is currently a controversy as it has been dated from the 3rd to 4th centuries though some say in is 5th to 6th centuries. Stay tuned if this interests you.
Before departing from our amazing tour we were treated to two more mosaics, this one of King David playing his lute. This is from the synagogue at Hamam near the Sea of Galilee. The dating of these mosaics is currently a controversy as it has been dated from the 3rd to 4th centuries though some say in is 5th to 6th centuries. Stay tuned if this interests you.

 

 

Samson (the giant) attacking the Philistines.
Samson (the giant) attacking the Philistines. This one also found at Hamam.   This is a site I had not heard about before but definitely want on my list for future trips.

Israel Museum

I always visit the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and always find amazing things to see.  I will have three blog posts on this one excursion because it was quite amazing this time.  There are always so many contradictions here in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, and a day at the museum is no exception.  Their special exhibit was works by Francisco Goya in honor of his 270th birthday and lent by the Prado Museum in Madrid.  The cultural exchange between Spain and Israel only began 30 years ago.

The first series of exquisite prints are from the series called Caprichos.  They describe imagery that is part of the “scenery” basically people who usually go unnoticed.  In Goya’s hands he placed the figures in the center and turned frivolous images into somewhat sinister ones.  The next two are perfect examples of how much Goya was influenced by and admired his predecessor Velasquez. The next series which was considered so radical and dangerous that it was not published until after his death is titled “The Disasters of War”.  It depicts the atrocities of war, mostly the invasion by Napoleon that is also depicted in his large scale paintings of May 3, 1808 and then the rest are of the resulting famine from 1811-1812.    There is quite a bit of allegory in these prints.  A technique unfamiliar to me shown here is called roulette.  It’s a special toothed tool used in aquatint to create a dark tone.

It was great to see two of Goya’s most famous paintings (from the Prado) that were created as cartoons for tapestries.  Cartoons are full scale drawings or paintings that are then used as templates of sorts for the weavers.  They depict a very different scene from the prints.  The prints following them are of bullfighting, again influenced by Velasquez and in turn influencing artists like Degas with the diagonals and asymmetrical poles.  Check out Degas’ paintings of jockeys to see what I mean. The final prints done just before his death are from a series called “Les Disparates”

 

The museum was crowded not only because it was a rainy day but because Sunday is cultural day for soldiers. Any Sunday you will find soldiers at many of these places. Can you think of any other army that encourages its troops to go to a museum?
The museum was crowded not only because it was a rainy day but because Sunday is cultural day for soldiers. Any Sunday you will find soldiers at many of these places. Can you think of any other army that encourages its troops to go to a museum?
This group of school children were with an Arabic speaking docent. The museum has a very active childrens program and I was so glad to see these kids learning about what is their heritage too. I thought seeing them in front of the rainbow Agam painting was quite fitting.
This group of school children were with an Arabic speaking docent. The museum has a very active childrens program and I was so glad to see these kids learning about what is their heritage too. I thought seeing them in front of the rainbow Agam painting was quite fitting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Byzantine gallery there are two reconstructions. This one is a synagogue from the 4th century.
In the Byzantine gallery there are two reconstructions. This one is a synagogue from the 4th century.
Across from the 4th century synagogue is a 5th century church reconstructed from 17 different churches. Notice the similarity of structure between the two worship spaces.
Across from the 4th century synagogue is a 5th century church reconstructed from 17 different churches. Notice the similarity of structure between the two worship spaces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goya, "Can't Anyone Untie Us", 1799, etching: A man and a woman tied together with ropes, struggling o get loose and crying out to be untied quickly? Either I am mistaken or they are two people who have been forced to marry."
Goya, “Can’t Anyone Untie Us”, 1799, etching: “A man and a woman tied together with ropes, struggling to get loose and crying out to be untied quickly? Either I am mistaken or they are two people who have been forced to marry.”
Goya, "The Filiation", etching and aquatint, 1799: "Here is a question of fooling the finance by letting him see, through her pedigree, who were the parents, grandparents, of the young lady. And who is she? He will find that out later."
Goya, “The Filiation”, etching and aquatint, 1799: “Here is a question of fooling the fiance by letting him see, through her pedigree, who were the parents, grandparents, of the young lady. And who is she? He will find that out later.”
Goya, The Shamefaced One, etching and aquatint, 1799: "There are men whose faces are the most indecent parts of their whole bodies and it would be a good thing if those who have such unfortunate and ridiculous faces were to put them in their breeches."
Goya,” The Shamefaced One,” etching and aquatint, 1799: “There are men whose faces are the most indecent parts of their whole bodies and it would be a good thing if those who have such unfortunate and ridiculous faces were to put them in their breeches.”
Goya, "They are Hot", etching and burnished aquatint, 1799: "They are in such a hurry to gobble it down that they swallow it boiling hot. Even in pleasure, temperance and moderation are necessary."
Goya, “They are Hot”, etching and burnished aquatint, 1799: “They are in such a hurry to gobble it down that they swallow it boiling hot. Even in pleasure, temperance and moderation are necessary.”
Goya, "Two of a Kind", etching, aquatint, and drypoint, 1799: "It is often disputed whether men are worse than women or the contrary but the vices of the one and the other come from bad upbringing."
Goya, “Two of a Kind”, etching, aquatint, and drypoint, 1799: “It is often disputed whether men are worse than women or the contrary but the vices of the one and the other come from bad upbringing.”
Goya, "A Bad Night", etching and burnished aquatint, 1799: "Gadabout girls who don't want to stay at home, risk exposing themselves to these hardships."
Goya, “A Bad Night”, etching and burnished aquatint, 1799: “Gadabout girls who don’t want to stay at home, risk exposing themselves to these hardships.”
Goya (after Velasquez), "The Dwarf Sebastian Morra", 1778, etching
Goya (after Velasquez), “The Dwarf Sebastian Morra”, 1778, etching
Goya (after Velasquez), "Las Medians", red chalk and pencil, 1779
Goya (after Velasquez), “Las Meninas”, red chalk and pencil, 1779
Goya, "One Can't Look", etching, roulette, and aquatint, 1810
Goya, “One Can’t Look”, etching, roulette, and aquatint, 1810-1815
Goya, "What Courage!", etching, aquatint, and drypoint, 1810-15
Goya, “What Courage!”, etching, aquatint, and drypoint, 1810-15
Goya, "Sad Forebodings of What is Going to Happen", etching and drypoint, 1810-15
Goya, “Sad Forebodings of What is Going to Happen”, etching and drypoint, 1810-15
Goya, "The Straw Manikin,", oil on canvas, 1791-92,
Goya, “The Straw Manikin,”, oil on canvas, 1791-92, 100″ X 70″
Goya "The Parasol", oil on canvas, 1777, 59 X 40"
Goya “The Parasol”, oil on canvas, 1777, 59 X 40″
Goya, "The Old Comprador Spearing Another Bull", etching, burnished aquatint, and burin, 1816
Goya, “The Old Campeador Spearing Another Bull”, etching, burnished aquatint, and burin, 1816
Goya, " A Way of Flying", etching and aquatint, 1816-23
Goya, ” A Way of Flying”, etching and aquatint, 1816-23
Goya, "Punctual Folly," etching and aquatint, 1816-23
Goya, “Punctual Folly,” etching and aquatint, 1816-23
Goya, "Bon Voyage": "Where is this internal company going, filling the air with noise in the darkness of the night? If it were daytime it would be quite a different matter and gun shots would bring the whole group of them to the ground, but as it is night, no one can see them.", 1799, etching, burnished aquatint, and burin
Goya, “Bon Voyage”: “Where is this infernal company going, filling the air with noise in the darkness of the night? If it were daytime it would be quite a different matter and gun shots would bring the whole group of them to the ground, but as it is night, no one can see them.”, 1799, etching, burnished aquatint, and burin

 

 

Remembering and Contemplating

I am following with concern what is going on in the US right now and also thinking about where I am in the context of it all. As I look out my window I can see the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) which from this vantage point looks benign but inside things are moving in some pretty disturbing directions.  I’ve been thinking that many of you on the north coast look out at the beautiful scenery and the ocean and all looks well though of course, we know it is not.

There are a lot of veterans in the classes I am teaching now and in classes of the past.  Most are veterans of wars that took place in this part of the world and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. It’s status quo in Jerusalem as I write but 6 people were wounded today in Petach Tikvah (a town in the center of Israel) and rockets were fired at Eilat.   Israel has had quite its share of wars from its earliest time.  There is a museum dedicated to a number of the previous wars that I’ve always been curious about but had never visited.

My curiosity was due in part to the fact that my father fought in Israel’s War of Independence and was a Canadian citizen and resident of the US at time which was illegal.  It’s a bit of a long story but enough to say that because he was American the Israelis put him in charge of the Sherman tanks they had captured.  My father was an intellectual with no military experience so it was a good thing he didn’t really see much action.  I had a picture of him (which I’m unable to share here but will add to the blog post when I return home) in front of the Sherman tank and showed it to the soldiers on duty at the museum.  They thought it was a marvelous thing and sure enough they have several Sherman tanks.  My father fought a war worth fighting and then spent the rest of his life seeking peace.

British Tegart fort built during the British Mandate of Palestine houses a library of historical documents and exhibits. The outer walls are pock marked, a reminder of the fierce battles fought here in the War of Independence.
British Tegart fort built during the British Mandate of Palestine houses a library of historical documents and exhibits. The outer walls are pock marked, a reminder of the fierce battles fought here in the War of Independence.
Wall of names of all Israelis who have fallen in all the wars starting in 1948. There is a daily prayer for the dead recited each day for any of the soldiers fallen on that given day in the calendar in front of the wall.
Wall of names of all Israelis who have fallen in all the wars starting in 1948. There is a daily prayer for the dead recited each day for any of the soldiers fallen on that given day in the calendar in front of the wall.  The tank on the watertower at the end of the wall is the symbol for the entire complex which in Hebrew is called Yad La’Shiryon: Memorial site for fallen soldiers
The main feature here are the tanks, some captured and retooled to Israeli standards and some developed and manufactured by Israel itself. It seems the tank is the main weapon of warfare here.
The main feature here are the tanks, some captured and retooled to Israeli standards and some developed and manufactured by Israel itself. It seems the tank is the main weapon of warfare here.
A tank captured in the Sinai campaign, in Egypt.
A tank captured in the Sinai campaign, in Egypt.
The Sherman tank, captured during World War II and used in the Israeli War of Independence.
The Sherman tank, captured during World War II and used in the Israeli War of Independence.

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This tank has an interesting story- captured by Syria from Israel, sent to Russia, and recently returned to Israel.
This tank has an interesting story- captured by Syria from Israel, sent to Russia, and recently returned to Israel.

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Leaving Latrun (Ayalon Valley) climbing up to Jerusalem, this is the modernized road that was so heavily fought over since during the War of Independence Jerusalem was under siege. In the Six Day War in 1967, the valley was captured and is now part of Israel.
Leaving Latrun (Ayalon Valley) climbing up to Jerusalem, this is the modernized road that was so heavily fought over during the War of Independence since Jerusalem was under siege and a serious blockade which meant no food or supplies. In the Six Day War in 1967, the valley was captured and is now part of Israel.
Across the road from the Armored Museum is the very peaceful looking monastery where the monks have taken a vow of silence was eatablished at the end of the 19th century. The valley where both the museum and monastery are located was a battle site since biblical times: Joshua and King David both fought serious battles here. We can hope this valley remains as peaceful as it looks today.
Across the road from the Armored Museum is the very peaceful looking monastery where the monks have taken a vow of silence.  It was eatablished at the end of the 19th century. The valley where both the museum to fallen soldiers and monastery are located was a battle site since biblical times: Joshua and King David both fought serious battles here. It now looks lush with agriculture.  We can hope this valley remains as peaceful as it looks today.

Nabateans

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Known as the monastery or the treasury at Petra, ca. 5th century BCE. It is a facade which only goes back a short way inside and is completely devoid of decoration inside.

Who were the Nabateans? At its peak the Nabatean Empire stretched from Yemen to Damascus and Western Iraq to the Sinai desert though no one knows for sure.  They were a mysterious group of travelers and traders so it’s hard to know the true extent of their empire.  Even though it is known they were literate they left little written record of their lives.  We know them from the spectacular architecture, especially the magnificent site of Petra.

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Metal sculpture in the Negev simulating a caravan of Nabateans.
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Ein Avdat, on the top of a ridge was a caravan stopping off place between Petra and the Mediterranean, and ultimately on to Rome.
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Traveling through the desert (Negev in Hebrew), we came upon this sculpture that reminds me of the Moai ancestor figures of Easter Island. In the distance is a Bedouin village. The Bedouins were nomads like the Nabateans and some still are though most live in semi-permanent villages.
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The lines you see along the hillside are remnants of terraces built by the Nabateans for farming and there is some evidence they even had vineyards.
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This also gives you an idea of the terrain of the desert region of Israel.
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The visitor center for Mitzpe Ramon (the Ramon crater) which is not really a meteor initiated crater, rather the largest “machtesh” in the world. This is the visitor center for Israel’s largest national park.
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The “machtesh” is 40 kilometers long, 2-10 kilometers wide, and 500 meters deep. Hundreds of millions of years ago this area was covered with ocean which receded to leave only the Dead Sea. 5 million years ago rivers carved out the inside of the crater and it continued to deepen rapidly as the rock was much softer than surrounding areas.
Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon who was killed in the shuttle disaster in 2003. He took the name Ramon because of this landscape, as it reminded him of what it must look like on the moon.
The black cinder cone you see shows that there was also volcanic activity in this area.
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Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon who was killed in the shuttle disaster in 2003 took the name Ramon because of this landscape, as it reminded him of what it must look like on the moon.
Nubian Ibex are a very common sight, equivalent to deer in our part of the world.
Nubian Ibex are a very common sight, equivalent to deer in our part of the world.

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Not in Paris anymore

As I write this on Friday morning there will be a great deal of frenzy in Jerusalem today as all stores, public transportation, and even most private vehicles do not operate from Friday evening to Saturday night.  Yes, we are in Jerusalem and enjoying being with our family.  The Sabbath was wonderful as it was quiet and restful.  Ordinarily, this is a very busy city though it does kind of shut down fairly early especially this time of year since there are fewer tourists.

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Rushing home for the start of Shabbat
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Where else would you find this kind of warning signage? That’s Hebrew at the top, Arabic in the middle, and of course English on the bottom.
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This is the only camel we saw and he (or she) was totally contained with some donkeys so no threat to our car.
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This is the western side (the newer side) of Jerusalem. We’ve got beautiful weather and if you look closely at the rooftops, what look like white drums are the hot water heaters totally solar. Israel has had this method for heating water since at least the late 1940s and maybe earlier.
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From here if you look at the middle distance beyond the taller apartment buildings and a swath of green to the left you can see the Knesset (Israeli parliament) with a Israeli flag flying and to the right another large complex that is Israel’s Supreme Court. Notice that all the buildings are of the same stone, called “Jerusalem stone” for good reason. At sunset the entire city has a pink glow.

Delacroix

The Eugene Delacroix Museum is located in the apartment and studio where he lived in 1857.  He wanted to be closer to St. Sulpice where he had been given a commission in 1847  After his death, his friends restored the apartment as a museum and it became an affiliate of the Louvre in 2004.  The museum features a series of paintings, pastels, drawings, and prints as well as many letters and mementos.  If you are in Art 208 or Art Appreciation (Art 4) you will be learning about this important artist who was a leader of the Romantic style in the 19th century. His expressive brushstrokes and his attention to light had a huge influence on the Impressionists who followed him.

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One of Delacroix’s painting palettes.
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Portrait of Thales Fielding by Delacroix, 1824. I am not familiar with this portrait but it is touching that he was a good friend of the artist and they painted each other.
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Portrait of Eugene Delacroix painted by Thales Fielding, 1824
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“Jewish Woman, Tangier”, etching, 1833. Delacroix spent quite a bit of time in North Africa. Since Algeria was a colony of France at that time there was quite a bit of contact between the two. Once Algeria got its independence the Jewish community left for France. Our friend JB who we had dinner with is the son of one of these Jewish people who left Algeria for France.
“Frightened Wild Horse”, crayon lithograph, 1828. Delacroix was known for his depictions of animals and this is a particularly nice one both of the subject and the technique.
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Back of the studio with the museum (formerly apartment) to the right
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The garden is modeled on the formal gardens of the Tuileries and they maintain this one for the museum. The neon sign says “A True Story”
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Interior of the studio facing the garden.
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Studio interior. I could not tell if they rotate exhibits; this one had quite a bit about George Sand and their relationship and relationship to other artists and intellectuals of the time.
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Portrait of George Sand (pseudonym for Amandine Dudevant) by Delacroix. George Sand was a woman novelist who only had success once she changed her name. She had unsuccessful marriages and some interesting lovers including Frederick Chopin, a Romantic musician as she was a Romantic novelist. Hence, the relationship to Delacroix, a Romantic painter.
The exterior entrance to the studio and museum
The exterior entrance to the studio and museum

Louis Vuitton Foundation (Museum): It’s not about the bags

Bernard Arnault commissioned Frank Gehry to design a museum that opened to the public in the Bois du Bologne (equivalent to Golden Gate Park) in 2014.  There are artistic commissions for artists who are invited to produce art in harmony with the building, works from the Louis Vuitton art collection, and special exhibits (next blog post).  For now this is about the building itself.  The geometry of the structure matches the shapes of the surrounding park and the twelve sails play with light and reflections of water from the basin the building “floats” on.  While this posting focuses on mostly the exterior (some views from inside) I was most impressed with how well art fits into this space and is not overwhelmed by it.

Note: we are in Jerusalem but grandchildren are occupying our attention at the moment so blogging about the couple of days spend in Paris.  Will get to Jerusalem sites in due course.

This aerial view of the museum obviously was not taken by me but is a great one for seeing the overall building.
This aerial view of the museum obviously was not taken by me but is a great one for seeing the overall building.

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Model shows the inner workings: galleries, offices, restaurant, etc.

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Adrian Villar Rojas, "Where the Slaves Live", 2014, found objects
Adrian Villar Rojas, “Where the Slaves Live”, 2014, found objects

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A good way to see how Gehry approaches architecture as a sculptural practice.
A good way to see how Gehry approaches
architecture as a sculptural practice.

Paris in Winter

Winter is a great time to visit Paris (as long as there isn’t an arctic vortex) because there are no intense  crowds and the weather is actually quite pleasant.  I’m one for colder rather than warmer, since if you are cold you can always add another layer, but if you are too hot not much you can do once you’ve stripped down.

Had a day in Paris and did quite a bit of walking.  Dramatic gray skies and iconic Paris sights.