Israeli art shuk to pop up in San Francisco

David Ben-Gurion in Ray-Ban Wayfarers and a pineapple button-down shirt. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in a colorful bohemian shirt and slouch beanie. These are not typical images associated with these Israeli figures, but that’s precisely the idea.

Jerusalem artist Amit Shimoni, whose hipsterized illustrations depict famous Israelis such as Menachem Begin and Golda Meir, is one of three dozen Israeli artists whose work will be on display Sept. 7 at La Shuk — an art pop-up in San Francisco’s Russian Hill.

Amit Shimoni’s hipsterized Golda Meir, titled “Goldi”

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Edoe Cohen, Israeli founder of Omanoot, an arts nonprofit e-commerce website that is hosting the pop-up shop. “We are very much about taking Israel outside the conventional boxes that we normally see her in with a wide variety of different artists.”

Cohen got the idea for Omanoot, which means art in Hebrew, while studying at Columbia University a decade ago. He saw art as a good way of connecting Jewish and non-Jewish students to the Israeli narrative.

“The politics in Israel are often intractable,” Cohen said, “but there are forms like visual art, dance and film that are ways to break down barriers.”

A Mountain View resident, Cohen, 36, moved from Israel in November with his wife, Pauline Vorms, who helps run Omanoot.

Until now, the nonprofit has offered artwork online only. The website features contemporary and emerging Israeli artists, from photographers to jewelers to illustrators. Many of them studied at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Tel Aviv.

“There’s a whole art scene in Israel that many people are unaware of,” said Doreen Aviv, co-organizer of the pop-up. “This event will bring brand awareness and feature art that is affordable and accessible for everyone,” Aviv said, adding that the event will introduce two local Israeli artists to a wider public: visual artist Yael Degany and illustrator Keren Mack.

Held at Firehouse 8, a renovated fire station, the pop-up will feature a DJ spinning music as well as Herzog wine tasting, and a sampling of Israeli food provided by Oakland Kosher.

Will the pop-up be part of an ongoing art exhibition? Cohen said Omanoot is “testing the waters” to gauge the demand for additional events. “We’re getting our feet wet for now and showcasing a younger and more modern side of Israel from the perspective of many artists.”

La Shuk Pop-Up Shop by Omanoot
runs 1-7 p.m. Sept. 7 at 1648 Pacific Ave., S.F. Free.