Going coastal: Israeli artists get their own show in Half Moon Bay

About 10 years ago, Israeli artist Gideon Spiegel began “photo drawing.”

Using Photoshop and similar computer programs, Spiegel “paints” scenes with his camera (capturing the everyday lives of Jews, Muslims and Christians), collages his drawings into the digital image and prints each work on a large canvas. His technique results in unique images — and the opportunity to “express myself better.”

“I haven’t seen anyone yet doing what I’m doing,” Spiegel, of Tel Aviv, said by phone from a relative’s home in Oakland.

Two of Spiegel’s photo drawings — one from his “Memories” series, in which he photographed abandoned buildings, then superimposed images of people he imagined might have lived in them during better days — will be part of the “Bits of Israel” exhibit, a collection of work by 11 Israeli artists.

“Trapped” by Gideon Spiegel

“Bits of Israel” opens Friday, July 9 at the Coastal Arts League Gallery and Museum in downtown Half Moon Bay. An opening reception with the artists is set for 4 to 6 p.m. July 17.

Simcha Moyal, who runs Clay-Artisan, a Palo Alto-based organization that represents mainly emerging Israeli artists, arranged the exhibit.

The exhibit includes a range of work — from photographs by Alice Klingman, whose focus is political and gender-related themes, and Ofir Ben Tov, who documents Israel’s shrinking Dead Sea, to paintings and sculptures by Nitzhia Shaked, a Jewish studies scholar who has taught at San Francisco State and Sonoma State, and the contemporary duo Helen and Asnat. They make sculptures from railroad ties — some bent, twisted or cracked — and combine the wood with bronze, an opposing medium with its smooth texture.

Through images of landscapes, communities and abandoned areas of Israel, each artist presents his or her individual perspective of the country and takes the viewer on a visual journey of the Jewish state.

“People will be curious, interested, and they’ll show up,” said Marian Yap, president of the Coastal Arts League.

The Coastal Arts League, a nonprofit operated by volunteers committed to the arts, runs a gallery and museum that displays an eclectic mix of traditional and cutting-edge art. Local artists run the space, but the work shown is not necessarily regional.

“Shoemaker” by Shifra Levyathan

It’s not necessarily international, either, according to Yap.

“This exhibit is bringing us into the international realm, which we don’t do very often,” Yap explained. “The fact that I’m Jewish made it doubly exciting.”

Yap noted that summertime brings more tourists (as many as 50 on a given day) to the gallery, which has two rooms. One will be devoted to “Bits of Israel.”

“It’s great,” Spiegel said. “They are giving us a good opportunity, and let’s hope it does some good for our country, too.”

“Bits of Israel” runs Friday, July 9 through Aug. 1 at the Coastal Arts League Gallery and Museum in Zaballa Square, 300 Main St., Half Moon Bay. Information: (650) 726-6335.