The prettiest mess in town

As for the reception so far, Sides is confident that Prettimess has proven to be a worthy second act to Engelmayer.

Dioz and Gidi Gilam, Cut By Demand exhibition, 2015 (photo credit: DIOZ AND GIDI GILAM)
Dioz and Gidi Gilam, Cut By Demand exhibition, 2015
(photo credit: DIOZ AND GIDI GILAM)
If there was any question about the artistic compass of the newly renovated Tel Aviv Town Hall, the space’s sophomore exhibition will put it to rest. Following the showstopping exhibition by Ze’ev (Shoshke) Engelmayer, which brought record attendance into the previously sleepy compound on Bialik Street, curator Ayelet Bitan-Shlonsky decided to make yet another bold move, officially staking Town Hall’s claim to innovative arts’ presentation in Israel.
Whereas Engelmayer’s show brought provocative political commentary into the halls of the city’s legendary leaders, the current exhibition tears down the walls entirely, bleeding the street into the museum arena.
For this second major event, the Tel Aviv Municipality called on the uber-urban Prettimess Collective. Founded in 2014 by Alon Meiri, Ben Kaufman and Boaz Sides, Prettimess has a clear agenda: to present accessible art in an accessible fashion.
“Ben and Alon aren’t artists,” explained Sides to Metro. “They are good friends who make skateboards. I met them in 2013 through a video on Facebook. I liked what they were doing and wanted a longboard. We met and we had a good connection; they liked what I do, too. We started to collaborate and, with time, we realized that we have a shared agenda, one that extends beyond longboards. We were missing a place where people could experience art at eye level, that’s more pleasant, without masks, complex texts, complex concepts. That would be colorful. So, we started to produce events.”
Prior to linking up with Meiri and Kaufman, founders of Dasilva Board Company, Sides worked as a designer, producing events on the side. “I had been doing events for seven or eight years before we met. I always did art because I had a mental need for it. I remember myself creating things from age zero, in kindergarten, throughout my childhood. The decision to do it for real, I made about a year ago. Art was always my profession. I am a designer, I worked in hi-tech as an art director. I decided to be a full-time artist a year ago. Until then, I didn’t earn full-time as an artist.”
Once the connection was established with Dasilva, things began to move forward quickly.
“We did a few indie exhibitions,” Sides said. “In 2015, Ben and Alon were looking for a new studio, and I was, too, so we looked together. We wanted the space to be our work space and our exhibition space. Since then, we have hosted shows in our space. This is our first time going out as a collective.”
The exhibition brings together a handful of artists, brothers and sisters of the Prettimess Collective. To make it happen, Sides, Meiri, Kaufman and their colleagues installed themselves in Town Hall around the clock.
“A month-and-a-half ago, before the opening, Town Hall spoke to us and invited us to a meeting. They told us that they are doing a year of collectives and that they want us to open the year.
“We had a month to put the exhibition together, which is very little time. We worked full-time, two weeks in the studio residency in the space for two full weeks,” said Sides. “The time constraint was intense; we didn’t sleep for a month. Everyone managed themselves, working on their personal pieces. We separated the space to eight individual spaces and three communal spaces. It was an incredibly big job to get done in one month’s time.”
Time was a major challenge, as was meeting the requests of the client, their first ever. Though street art has made a massive foray into classical art arenas, the transition from a boundless platform to a contained one always includes a few bumps in the road.
“On the street, there is no broker. No one tells me where, what or how much. Here, there is a broker, the museum, the establishment. That said, I feel that we did just what we wanted here,” said Sides.
The proof of this risk – both on Prettimess’s part and of Town Hall – was in the pudding on opening night in March.
“We were really surprised. We were expecting around one thousand visitors, but then nearly double that turned up. Luckily, the space can handle the volume,” Sides said.
As for the reception so far, Sides is confident that Prettimess has proven to be a worthy second act to Engelmayer.
“If Shoshke raised the expectation for shows in Town Hall, we raised it even higher. We managed to bring something else, something completely different.”
The Prettimess Collective exhibition will run through August at Town Hall. For more information: