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Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Have you been to Bilbao, Spain?



In the beginning, when HILAI wasn't even a seed, just an idea burning in my bones, I met in NYC with the Director of The New Israel Fund.

I was told right away that first of all I must create a non-profit organization.

Never heard of such a creature. The only ones in Israel at that time, almost the only ones, were created and run by political parties, or Ministries, to bring in more funds to their coffers.

"And the most important thing, is to get a distinguished Advisory Board."

"Are you kidding? Everybody in Israel likes to give advise, asked or unasked."

From one to another I managed to recruit some big names. Why not? They liked the idea - to establish an artists colony in the Galilee, with artists and writers contributing to the community, during their short stays, in peace oriented cultural activities.

Additional volunteer help brought in Saul Bellow, Aaron Copland, James Rosenquist.



I arrived in NYC, this time to have an initial meeting with some donors.

In my pocket was James Rosenquist's phone.

Kindly, he invited me to his house.

A house indeed. Three floors.

"Why not stay for dinner? I've already invited a few friends."

I was sleeping at a volunteers' family, out of town.

He said, "Never mind, there is enough room here for you to sleep."

At that time Rosenquist's studio was at an airplane shed in Florida. So big are his works.

In his NYC house he had torn down all the interior walls, probably to make room for a piece or two of art...

I slept in that huge space of a whole floor in which the only furniture piece was a large bed.

I well remember that I was sitting for awhile at one of the large windows, with a tear in my eye, asking myself what I was doing there instead of just writing, at my own modest home, the way Rosenquist devotes his life to art alone.


Two gifts were offered me on that visit. Only one of them I took along.

Rosenquist, in his kindness, offered to create a silk screen of several hundred copies, for us to sell and benefit the project.

What burned under my fingers then was to start the work itself. I was to invest one year alone and time was running out.

I ended up working on Hilai for eleven years. Would it have taken a shorter time if only I had chosen to invest my energy in raising money for the silk screen printer?

In the afternoon, while we were conversing, he got an urgently expected phone call, apologized, took it for two seconds, and then immediately made another one as short as the first, and turned the answering machine on.

Until then, after such a call I would write down in my journal that I should call so and so later on.

No more.

It does save time, even if not years. Above all it buys some peace of mind.



If only Bilbao was across the street here...

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