Have you ever noticed how ordinary objects become extraordinary when traveling? As one of 12 Americans participating in Partnership2Gether (formerly Partnership 2000) Artist-in-Residence program in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis, I spent 10 turbo-charged days touring and painting in the northwestern-most corner of Israel.
Everywhere I gazed, my mind composed beautiful paintings from the mundane. There were doors painted in the brilliant blues of the Mediterranean Sea, which according to folklore, is to ward off the Evil Eye, the bedraggled street vendors standing in contrast to the vibrant colors of their merchandise, and the bold vistas fading to blue-gray as they retreated into the distance. Every turn of my head yielded another painting ready-formed in my mind’s eye.
This Israel was an entirely different country from the one I had lived in for 6 years more than a decade ago. The Israel I experienced as an artist was politically neutral. The land was unstained, having never known millennia of war. All of the people were innocent because no blood had been shed.
As I stand before my easel at home, I struggle to recall what my mind’s eye had created only 2 short months ago. Even as the meaningless brushstrokes on my canvas frustrate me, I hold onto those precious moments when the Israel I saw with my artist’s eye was a land of remarkable beauty and pervasive peace. Halivai. I wish it to be so for all.