The Friendship Circle’s latest art project paired special needs youngsters with some of Jerusalem’s leading photographers and artists.
By RUTH BELOFF
Works of art come in many forms and from many sources.The pieces that are the most inspiring are those that come straight from the heart and express a mood, a feeling or a message to which the viewer responds visually and viscerally.Such was the artwork that went under the hammer at the gala art auction hosted by the Friendship Circle of Central Jerusalem on Sunday evening, held at Beit Chassid on Emek Refaim.Preceded by a lavish cocktail party and lively musical entertainment, as well as a few speeches by the organizers of the event and words of support by opposition leader on the city council Fleur Hassan-Nahoum (Yerushalmim), the auction featured truly exceptional pieces of artwork crafted by members of the Friendship Circle.A nonprofit organization that connects local teens with young people with special needs, the Friendship Circle is dedicated to developing projects and events in which the youngsters, aged 11 to 27, can feel involved, inspired and, most of all, included.The current art project, called “Jerusalem through a Golden Lens,” paired groups of Friendship Circle youngsters with some of Jerusalem’s foremost photographers and artists in an endeavor that was mutually enlightening. In the first phase of the four-month program, the youngsters attended a photography workshop. Then groups of them, led by professional photographers, went around the city taking pictures of anything and everything that caught their fancy. The Knesset, the Kotel, the Israel Museum, the Old City, the shuk, flowers, trees, people, arches and alleyways – all were fuel for their creative fire.From the myriad of snapshots that were taken, a number of them were selected, enlarged and mounted.AdvertisementIn the second phase of the project, some of the amateur photographers worked with acclaimed artists to enhance their photographs, using techniques such as painting, collage, mosaic, gold leaf or papier mache.That’s what was on auction on Sunday night. A total of 55 original photographs and 65 artistically enhanced photos, all beautifully framed and esthetically curated, graced the walls of Beit Chassid, waiting to be purchased by the large crowd in attendance.Led by auctioneer Rafael Sait, the auction went into full swing as piece after piece was sold to the highest bidder.Colorful and vibrant, whimsical or joyful, each picture was a work of art in every sense of the term, created by youngsters whose personal perception and unique sensibility virtually leapt off the canvas.Then as a change of pace, a suggestion was made that was off the wall. Literally.One of the organizers invited the guests to look around the room, choose the artwork that they liked, and pay the price marked on the piece. That prompted a flurry of activity as scores of participants sprang to their feet and began to gingerly take down the coveted creations and line up to pay for them, some with two or three pieces under their arm.Many of the Friendship Circle youngsters were in attendance that night, and it was very heartwarming for them and their parents to see their imaginative efforts being so well appreciated. In keeping with the slogan of the Art of Friendship program, “Happy art deserves a happy home,” many a living room and hospital corridor (with donated artwork) has been injected with an added dose of joyful spirit.Some of the artwork can be purchased online, as well as a coffee-table book that contains the photos of all 120 pieces.For information, go to jfcjerusalem.org.