Your Guide to Israeli Street Artists in the U.S.A.
It would be di icult not to notice the (often illegal) artwork that has sprung up on the walls of the Holy Land in the past decade and a half, awarding Israel an international reputation for creative street artists with strong messages. Israel, however, is small — and its street artists inevitably reach a point when they feel they have nowhere to progress within its borders. So, they travel abroad — sometimes by invitation, sometimes not, drawn to the prospect of unknown terrains and wider audiences. If you aren’t familiar with their work already, allow us to introduce you to the following — tragically underrated — collection of Israeli talent, those who have brought a little piece of their homeland to the streets of the United States.
Dede rose to ame more than a decade ago with his now signature band-aid motif, earning him the nickname “Dede Band-Aid.” Following Dede’s military service, he created the motif, which he described to the Forward as a form of “therapy that helped me through some of the hardest phases of my life. I used to spend long nights drawing band-aids all over Tel Aviv, and, with each drawing, I felt a sense of relief, as if I was telling everybody about my problems and they all listened, understood and supported me.”
Dede utilizes a range of techniques, including collage, free-hand painting and installation. He tends to draw inspiration from the urban landscape, perhaps best displayed by his collection of wooden animals. Like his band-aids, the animals — always captured fleeing, pursued by an unseen predator — appear on streets around the globe. Inspired by the plight of Tel Aviv’s homeless, whom he observed building temporary shelters from scraps of wood, the animals tell a story of “searching for a safe haven.”
Dede’s band-aids, wooden animals and more can be spotted in downtown Manhattan and in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, as well as in Miami.
While many turn to booze or ice cream to heal a broken heart, Nitzan Mintz, who is the longtime partner of Dede, found mild vandalism far more effective;
tagging her name on her high school’s walls after dark made her “feel alive” following a teenage break-up. Years later, Mintz honed her evolving street work into what would become her trademark. Stenciling onto public walls the poetry she’d been writing for years proved the antidote to feeling “choked” by her mandatory military service.
Mintz uses “the most boring, bureaucratic fonts,” she said, to display her contrastingly profound poetry, which verbalizes the “irreconcilable: the inability to return to childhood, the broken heart, political and social hopes turned to ashes, and one-sided relationships with God.”
While the commissioned murals that have taken Mintz around Europe demand a fair amount of planning, the artist continues to act on sudden bursts of inspiration. A quiet corner near the prestigious street art hub, the Bushwick Collective, in Brooklyn, inspired one particular piece: “I found a wood panel hanging on a fence and fell in love with it. There was a strange feeling of a postapocalyptic environment; a lot of trash on the stairs and the sidewalk, and the grass was really tall. I created this piece on thin paper and glued it to the wood panel so it would fit perfectly and become part of the location,” Mintz said.
Erenthal never thought of herself as an artist — “although I always had a desire to express myself creatively” — until she ran away from home at age to escape an arranged marriage. Growing up in
UP AGAINST THE WALL: Sara Erenthal’s work can be seen in Park Slope and Bushwick in Brooklyn.
THE MEDIUM ISN’T ALWAYS THE MESSAGE: Nitzan Mintz intentionally uses boring fonts for her text-based work.