Waste not, want not

This well-known couple has parlayed its love of rescuing items from the street into distinctive decor.

dining table 224.88 (photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
dining table 224.88
(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
Yaakov Kirschen, creator of the Dry Bones cartoon, and his wife, artist Sali Ariel, have rented their house in Herzliya Pituah for about seven years now. When Sali invited me over, she made it sound enticing by telling me it was very colorful and most of the furniture had been picked up in the street or been thrown out by different institutions and rescued by her. "I have a philosophy about picking up garbage," says Sali, whose figurative paintings, especially of Tel Aviv Bauhaus-style buildings, have become popular in recent years. "It's not just to save money by recycling - I feel strongly that things pop up in the street and they want me to rescue them. It's as if they want to belong to me." As a miniatures enthusiast, I was thrilled to find that Yaakov has a complete model railway set up in his living space, and we shared a love of playing at mini-worlds. "It's like blocking off a piece of the world and saying that in this part I'm making the rules," says the cartoonist, whose satirical take on the madness around us has been appearing in this paper and others for the last 35 years. "It's what you do in a painting or a cartoon as well. You are saying, 'If I had a hand in creation, this is what I would create.'" The choice of Herzliya Pituah was more or less dictated by the fact that Sali is so active in the International Women's Club. Since half the membership consists of Israeli women and the other half wives of foreign diplomats or the diplomats themselves, many of the meetings are held in the town, home to the majority of foreign delegations. "I found I had to be here sometimes three times a day," says Sali, who served as president of the club five years ago. "I'd have morning meetings, evening meetings, lunches, executive board meetings. Sometimes I'd even take a nap at a friend's house. Then we found this place and the rent was affordable, so we moved in." A few changes were required - a toilet bang in the middle of the living-room was removed and an aquarium put in its place. The kitchen was separated from the living room by an electric partition and was small and dark; and the kitchen had no steps up, so they placed a bookshelf next to it to eliminate the dangers of falling. All the brown window glass was replaced by clear glass to allow some light to enter - and Sali painted all the walls, which are now hung with many of her own paintings. They entertain a lot and use the pebbled garden in the back as overflow for the many guests, including diplomats and celebrities. Sali is inordinately proud of her finds - "all rescued from the garbage," she assures me. "This one is from when the YMCA in Jerusalem had a throw-out; this one is from the Rotary," she explains, waving a hand at several long refectory tables in the lounge and garden. "This one had been in my painting studio in Florentin, and this one had been a print shop work table. I just slapped paint on all of them. I like the bright colors, and the extra decoration is so you don't see the defects." Most of the chairs have the same provenance, although she points out a couple and says, "These I actually bought from I.D. Design." The lounge is also mostly furnished from flea markets and second-hand furniture dealers, although she does have a few pieces of fancier furniture which are family heirlooms. A collection of colored glass and her mother's ceramics are displayed in front of a long mirror, and shelves bear Yaakov's spare cars from his train display. I wonder if they influence each other in their separate artwork. "I don't think so," replies Sali. "I take it as it comes until I see what it's going to look like. Yaakov plans out - he knows from the first stroke what the rest is going to be like. Although on reflection, I do get a certain cartoony look occasionally in my paintings. But it's not a conscious choice." She says she is proud of mixing different styles and putting together good and not so good furniture. "Our home has many functions - it's a home but also office, studio and gallery," she says. "With color sense and taste, anybody can have the house look just how she wants." Do you feel you own one of Israel's most beautiful homes? Please e-mail: [email protected]