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Zmanit Gallery: A Voice for Emerging Artists

Israel is renowned for its art scene, including the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, but there’s no 2 ways about it — getting exposure and making it as an artist is still as tough as anywhere else.

Having grown a bit tired of the situation, local artists Reut Traum and Barak Twito decided to do something about it, creating the Zmanit Gallery as forum for emerging artists to get exposure for their work.

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Photo: Courtesy of Zmanit Gallery/Jenia Kris

“There are a lot of artists in Jerusalem and there is a lot of art culture in Jerusalem,” explains Reut, a 27-year-old graduate of Bezalel’s ceramics and glass department and co-founder of the Zmanit Gallery. “As artists, we don’t have a place to exhibit our art. It’s hard for emerging artists to get shown because galleries want credentials. Galleries have a lot of conditions, and it is hard to get in if you don’t have a name.”

“People will buy a ticket for the theater even if it’s to see an unknown ensemble, so emerging actors and dancers do get paid,” adds Barak, Reut’s husband and co-founder of Zmanit Gallery, who is also a graduate of Bezalel and a working artist. “Even if it’s not enough, at least it’s a good place to start.

“We want to establish the artist’s status once again; get people to understand that we study, work and invest a lot of time, energy and thought in any art work or project we create and feel that we should get paid for it, not pay other people to exhibit it.”

Zmanit Gallery — zmanit is Hebrew for “temporarily” — is a unique project that gives artists an equally unique exhibition space for showing their art to the public, while also offering locals and tourists a gateway to discovering new and upcoming talent.

The gallery puts on monthly public art exhibitions featuring emerging local artists in a pop-up gallery in the Mahane Yehuda Market and Reut and Barak plan to expand to other locations beginning in April.

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Photo: Courtesy of Zmanit Gallery/Jenia Kris

The walls of the gallery are white canvas stretched on a wood frame, connected with hinges which stand on wheels. The art works hang on the white canvas and when the gallery is closed, the walls are folded like an accordion and covered with custom-made packaging.

When the gallery is set up, there is a formal opening, a talk about the gallery and its goals, and a few words from the artist and his or her preparations for the exhibition.

The theme of each exhibition is picked from being and observing the street or area in which the gallery will be placed. The artist then can create new works with the theme in mind.

Artists are encouraged to sell their works, and a catalogue with details of the artist and his or her works and techniques, prices and how to contact him or her is available that day.

Reut and Barak do not take a commission or a fee from the artist, so they are not earning any money from the project.

“We are not alone,” says Reut. “All of our artist friends are the same.” Barak works for a company which teaches at-risk teens to make jewelry, ceramics and how to behave in the work place. Reut does independent art projects.

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Photo: Courtesy of Zmanit Gallery/Jenia Kris

During the winter, the new exhibition has been shown three times in December in the Mahane Yehudah’s Shuk; it will be repeated there in February and March.

Current artists are Natalie Cohen a Bezalel graduate in the ceramics and glass department; Moria Levi, an Emuna Art College graduate, showing photographs; and Ofer Zivony, a Bezalel graduate from the visual communications department, exhibiting realistic lively painted portraits.

Photo: Natalie Cohen; Courtesy of Zmanit Gallery

Natalie Cohen
Photo: Courtesy of Zmanit Gallery/Jenia Kris

Natalie Cohen is a 27-year-old graduate of the Bezalel ceramics and glass department two years ago. “Now I’m making collages, painting, teaching classic art privately and teaching in a preparatory program.” She is also doing performances in the street.

Cohen has had an exhibition in a Paris, France gallery and in Tel Aviv. She heard about Zmanit Gallery on Facebook. “When I saw about Zmanit, it was for me amazing to see a different way to present yourself. They are not asking for money and I really like the idea to show art in the street.”

The next exhibition, with the theme “Encounters: artificial reflections,” will take place the evenings of March 16 and 17 in Mahane Yehuda. To put a twist on the theme artist Ofer Zivony will be painting visitors on the spot.

“[Going forward], we are trying to insert some income for ourselves and we are hoping to get some income for the artists,” says Reut.

Zmanit Gallery is already on track to reach greater heights, as they’ve received funding from both the Jerusalem Municipality’s Administration of Culture and Leisure and non-profit organization New Spirit.

“It is important to me to be acknowledged and to be respected,” Reut adds. “It is a struggle to educate the public that it is our time and work and investment in creating.”

“We encourage everybody to take intuitive,” Barak adds. “It’s time for people to understand we don’t create visual art as a hobby. We wish to grow and showcase our works. We want to establish this as a common understand, so we’re trying create new platforms for ourselves and our friends with any kind of support we can get.”

Photo: Courtesy of Zmanit Gallery/Jenia Kris

Photo: Courtesy of Zmanit Gallery/Jenia Kris

 For more information on the next Zmanit Gallery exhibition check out the Facebook event page and ‘like’ the Zmanit Gallery Facebook page for more updates on future exhibitions.

About the author

Sybil Kaplan is a seasoned foreign correspondent, journalist, food writer, book reviewer, and cookbook author. She comes from Overland Park, Kansas. She leads the weekly Shuk Walk in Mahane Yehudah in English. Her husband, Barry, is her photographer. You can contact her by email at syb1023@aol.com.