In most parts of the world, street art is graffiti and is seen as an eyesore. But not in Jerusalem where it is a welcome addition to the city’s culture. Jerusalem’s street art is the result of a deliberate initiative by Ido Levitt, director of the Jerusalem Center Development Company, a branch of the Jerusalem Development Authority. Designs must receive approval from the municipality as well as nearby residents and businesses who might be affected by it. All art has a strict policy against politics, violence, and other inappropriate images.
Street Art at Machane Yehuda
The city’s main market, Mahane Yehuda, is vibrant and bustling throughout the week. But on Saturdays, the Jewish sabbath, the market is empty and silent, the stalls shut and locked. When the garage-like doors to the stalls shut, an incredible gallery of colorful murals is visible. As you walk through the alleys, famous faces and other creations will stare back at you. Among them are Jewish World War II hero Hannah Szenes in her military uniform, American Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and even Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi tucked under a “Strictly Kosher” sign. These captivating spray-paints are the work of 25-year-old British-born artist, Solomon Souza, who works all night to make the market as vibrant when it’s closed as when it’s open.
The market can be seen on a tour of Jerusalem, but you’ll have to return on your own after-hours to see the impressive art.
Street Art Throughout Jerusalem
Outside of the market, the historic neighborhood of Beit Yaakov was also flagged for a very special project. Thirty artists came together to join the project Tabula Rasa (“blank slate”), and there is now art on the walls, poles, balconies, doors, shops, and even on electrical boxes. HaDekel Street is particularly interesting. At the street’s entrance are two huge, frightening faces. Along the street, murals are everywhere, even on the shutters of closed shops. A long wall is covered with sheep and a wolf waiting to catch them. The bottom of a unique balcony is filled with a poem and mural.
Head to Beit Yaakov Street, near Agrippas Street, to see a fabulous corner mural that depicts the people, kiosks, and buildings of Mahane Yehuda Market with great accuracy. This 3Dpiece of art was painted by 12 artists from a Lyons-based group called Cite de la Creation.
On Hagalgal Street, on the side of a deserted building, is the work of Adam Yekutieli. The building was once on the border with Jordan and is riddled with holes caused by gunfire. Adam incorporated all the damage into his work, “The Walls” by numbering each one and providing a legend that makes for intriguing reading. There are a total of 246 marks in the building, all of which have been given context. It’s a. very interesting piece that contrasts greatly with the colorful stalls of Machne Yehuda and is not to be missed as you explore Jerusalem’s street art scene.
For even more amazing street art, check out Tel Aviv’s booming street art scene.