What is Oh So Arty’s concrete activity? Can you describe a typical work day?
I am constantly on the move, meeting creatives from different sectors and industries. I am very focused on translating my virtual work to the real world. The bulk of my work includes collaborating with artists on exciting projects, art consulting, and giving private art tours. I’m also always present on social media, ensuring constant accessibility to the local art scene. On Thursdays you will most probably find me at an exhibit opening.
I consider Tel Aviv to be my workspace- but if I need to settle down and focus, I head to Nine Rooms, a ladies club in Old Jaffa.
You grew up in Tel Aviv but have lived in Belgium and studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. What made you want to live and start a business in Tel Aviv?
Well, it was a fortunate accident actually – my family moved back here in 2008 after living in Belgium and in the summer I finished my degree, I interned for six weeks at the Israel Museum. I felt there were lots of opportunities in Tel Aviv and decided to stay.
You worked as a co-director at Dvir Gallery while establishing Oh So Arty. Can you tell us about your work experience there?
I started out as an assistant at Dvir Gallery but over the four years I worked there, I became part of the directing team, curating, travelling and meeting new artists. I consider Dvir Gallery to be the catalyst to Art Galleries in Tel Aviv, as it really exposed me to the local and international art world. The knowledge I gained there was an equivalent to a Masters Degree in Art.
You’ve collaborated with a few Israeli artists, like Irit Tamari and Alona Rodeh. What does your collaboration entail? Who are some other artists you would want to work with?
Well, I thoroughly enjoy working with other creatives – it’s an integral part of my business as I mentioned before. However, I don’t consider myself a curator, that definition seems to rigid and formal. I help artists’ select pieces for upcoming shows, build themes around their works and promote their events on my social media channels.
I currently have a major artsy girl crush on Lihi Turjeman, an Israeli painter. Her works explore space and dimensions through a unique lens. Her former home and studio was a building due for demolition where she used the inhabited locale as her canvas.
How does the contemporary art scene in Tel Aviv compare to others, let’s say London or New York?
I suppose it is similar in certain ways – Israel is a start-up nation, and a lot of the art initiatives around the world are also independent projects, so the mindset can be surprisingly comparable. Any art scene is usually described as a bubble, a body of close-knit professionals. Tel Aviv differs very little in that aspect. Additionally, there is a major body of talent still waiting to be discovered – and the surroundings definitely contribute to the composition of art.
I guess that what makes it the same and yet different is that Israelis have a unique set of experiences. Moreover, the Tel Aviv art scene holds an advantage – it’s young and still considerably small. This allows for a lot of opportunities and accessibility that make Tel Aviv even more endearing.
Who and what is your greatest inspiration?
Without a doubt – the artist. Definitely. I admire them because their creations require total dedication. They need to live and breath their work, it’s basically a synonym to who they are. It’s a tough life, the artist life. The starving artist is no myth. But they do it because they believe in it.
What are your favorite galleries in Tel Aviv?
Dvir Gallery and Sommer Gallery are dedicated to advancing Israeli art in the international art scene as well as presenting emerging international talent in their exhibits. Meshuna, a new, vibrant gallery on Herzl Street, is run by two artists. It’s more alternative then the former two, collaborating and exhibiting emerging street artists.
Can you tell us of any upcoming projects we should keep an eye out for?
I’m collaborating with Yaara Sharon on ‘Fertile Ground’ a sale exhibit opening on the 5th of March. The exhibition space is a building (Gordon 26) that is going to be renovated entirely to become the first green, eco-friendly house in Tel Aviv. So before they destroy the place, we’re hosting a sale exhibit with a broad range of prices, with photographers and painters and the like. The feel will be very urban. Definitely worth visiting!
Additionally, my two passions are art and social media; so for my next project I am collaborating with The Art Platform to manage the Public Relations and social media outlets of art venues; I collaborate a lot!
Any words of wisdom for aspiring art entrepreneurs?
I would advise them to meet people from other industries. You can easily get dragged into one particular scene and then stay in your comfort zone. But meeting new people allows for new ideas- and exciting collaborations!
Also, be insistent with your idea. There will be great days and there will be days of doubt. Never give up- it takes time for ideas to develop and longer for them to become popular. It took me a while to figure out my niche and I wanted to give up many times along the way. But it will be worth the wait. Be patient and consistent.
As a Tel Aviv insider, what are your favorite arty spots in town?
Xoho Café, an awesome vegan coffeeshop on Gordon. My parents run a tea shop, Palais des Thés, around the corner, so it’s convenient and has a great, funky vibe as well as interesting dishes. Port Said is my go-to restaurant for dinner. It offers delicious food, fresh drinks and there’s always great music playing – the perfect recipe for a Telavivian atmosphere. What more do you need?
Helena Rubinstein Pavillio for Contemporary Art is smack in the center of the city, near Habima. They showcase temporary exhibitions and there’s the Israeli Philharmonic nearby. Basically it’s a buzzing creative spot!
Lastly, what spirit animal are you?
A dolphin, because I am friendly and sociable, and I love the ocean. I aim to see the sea at least once a day – yet another reason for my love of Tel Aviv.
By Michelle Muller
Michelle Muller was born and raised in Antwerp and now resides in sunny Tel Aviv. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Communications. Avid traveler, daily dreamer, inconclusive foodie and art enthusiast. Her most prized possession is a vintage typewriter- the tangible in a world of fleeting images.