A guide can help you see things you might not notice while exploring Israel and can explain and make sense of what you are looking at, putting what you are seeing in its historical, religious and/or cultural context.
Walking through the Arab shuq in Jerusalem’s Old City bombarded by the colors, textures, smells and sounds you may not notice a striking graphic poster displayed in a number of shops. The poster is a stylized graphic in bright colors of Jerusalem, the Haram el-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary with the words VISIT PALESTINE across the bottom.
Aside: Two of the most popular places to visit in Palestine are Bethlehem and Jericho. Although these cities are in AREA A, under the control of the Palestinian Authority and out-of-bounds to most Israelis by Israeli law as a tour guide licensed by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism I am authorized to guide there so you can now visit Palestine with me.
Interesting thing is that the poster is not contemporary, not by a Palestinian artist or graphic designer and in fact, has nothing to do with “Palestine”, in its usual meaning today, the West Bank and Gaza. The poster is from 1936, was designed to encourage tourism by an Austrian Jewish artist living in Tel Aviv when the whole area was under the British Mandate and was called Palestine.
Moving from Vienna to Berlin to Paris and then Barcelona, Franz Krausz and his wife Anni managed to flee Europe, coming to Palestine in 1934 and settling in Tel Aviv. Krausz was a pioneer of art for advertising and designed posters for Israeli companies like Dubek cigarettes and Elite, the chocolate and candy manufacturer. Krausz most dynamic and colorful work was hand-painted gouache, Anni was a photographer and sometimes Krausz’s designs were based on photographic studies shot by his wife.
Aside: I designed a postcard for the Herodium tour that I offer distilling a photograph that I took of Herodium into just 4 colors, brown, blue, green and yellow. All I have to add is the text VISIT HERODIUM across the bottom. The tour is a comprehensive half day tour of the archaeological park at Herodium including Lower Herodium, the area outside the park that Prof. Ehud Netzer excavated in 1972 looking for Herod’s tomb.
The “Visit Palestine” poster is Krausz’ best-known image, with just those two words in English, no Hebrew or Arabic, done using only six colors, yellow, orange, red, blue, black and white. On the left foreground of the poster is a tree in silhouette, one of the trees native to the Mediterranean area, perhaps an olive (one of the Seven Species mentioned in the Bible as growing is Israel), or oak or carob, framing a view of the Haram el-Sharif. The scene includes one of Jerusalem’s landmarks, the Dome of the Rock, even the Dome of the Chain is shown, with Jerusalem behind – the view of the city is from the Mount of Olives. Although prolific and one of Israel’s most-accomplished graphic designers Krausz made very little money from his frugal clients and today his work is hardly recognized except by art history buffs.
Aside: My good friend and artist, Bob Gottlieb living in Louisville, KY has an image of my photograph of Petrified Trees in the Large Makhtesh and is working on a painting of the scene. Unique to the Negev and Sinai deserts, a makhtesh has steep walls of resistant rock (limestone and dolomite) surrounding a deep closed valley that was created when the core of softer rock (in this case colored sandstone) was eroded and carried away by a stream bed. These large, stone tree trunks are 120 million years old from when the area was a dense forest, today barren desert inside the makhtesh.
Anyone else interested in trying their hand at painting from my photographs? You can check out more photos on my website at http://israel-tourguide.info/photos-of-the-week/.
Here is an example of a photograph that I took in the nature reserve of the Banias stream and a painting of the same scene by the artist Diego Goldfarb.
The Banias Spring emerges at the foot of Mount Hermon and flows powerfully through a canyon for 3.5 km, eventually cascading over a cliff, not the highest but probably the most impressive waterfall in Israel. Nine kilometers from its source, the stream meets the Dan and together they form the Jordan River.
Nearby Banias, in the village of Nimrod, the highest settlement in Israel at 1110 meters is Diego’s small gallery with electric blue walls where you can find the oil painting of Banias spring.