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August 22, 2016

Toy Scene Review - S01E01 - Israel

Starting this week we will be posting a series of Toy Scene Reviews starting with a series penned by Yaniv Brick, and covering the Israel Designer Toy Scene. I hope this view into a specific region will help to enlighten and embolden Toy Artists to reach across international lines and further the global toy scene as a whole. This series will post every Monday till done.

And the invitation is open to developing more Toy Scene Review series posts, with various guest writers. So if you know your countries toy scene inside and out, drop a line at:

Thanks and enjoy.
Your Ninja Blogger Gavriel Discordia

Israel’s and Tel Aviv’s cultural climate is a fertile ground for the development of various subcultures and art movements. Open to diverse global influence, the effects of cartoon and sci-fi cultures as well as street art and graffiti, are very evident in Israeli art, both indoors and outdoors.

When Urbanix, an urban art gallery and shop in the hip city center of Tel Aviv, opened in the mid-2000s an actual community of toy designers and collectors was formed. As a brick and mortar store, Urbanix was the go-to place for collectors and designers, until in the early 2010s its activity was shifted towards on-line sales, distribution to fashion stores, and pop-ups at fairs and events, until its final fade-out in 2013. With its closing, the community’s activity moved primarily to social media, specifically to the DesignerToysIsrael page set up by designer and collector Gadi Yosef and operated by him and, recently, also by fellow collector Yaniv Brick.

Just when it looked like the community is doomed to forever e-bay shop, from an unexpected direction emerged what might become the new brick & mortar center for the Israeli community; BuXa is an unprecedented combination of a cocktail bar, live music venue, and most importantly an art toy gallery. When opened in 2013, the vision of its creative directors and founding partners, Daniel Donner and Itay Pasha, was for BuXa to become a space for showcasing local low-brow artists, ranging from graffiti and tattoo artists to graphic designers and illustrators. With that in mind, BuXa’s d├ęcor displays a vast collection (hundreds!) of art toys from the past decade. The space hosts regular rotating art shows as well as special events for the designer toy community.

In April 2016 it hosted a customization event in participation of headliners SketOne and Rik Lee, the Artists for Israel project group, and local customizers. A month later it hosted the first Israeli toy collectors meetup in a very long while. Addressing not only collectors, the setting of a bar at Rothschild Blvd - the beating heart of Tel Aviv’s night life -  also enables BuXa to reach out to new audiences and expose them to the world or art toys.

BuXa will soon shift to higher gear with the official airing of its website and online store, and the opening of a new showcase room. The website’s purpose is not only to distribute designer toys to the local community but mostly to serve as an international sales platform for custom toys by many Israeli local artists. Make sure to check-out their website once it is live for news and sales of some long sold-out and rare items you are unlikely to find elsewhere, as well as for originals and customs by Israeli designers.

In this series of posts we will review the Israeli designer toy scene by spotlighting a representative selection of its artists: Tamar Moshkovitz, Avri Rosen-Zvi, Shin Lamed, Itay G., and Ori Gami. Approaching the field of art toys from their broad spectrum of technical backgrounds and artistic disciplines, each of them provides a glimpse at some of the numerous faces of both the scene in general and its Israeli flavor in particular.

Yaniv Brick is an Israeli toy collector and the administrator of the DesignerToysIsrael Facebook community page. DesignerToysIsrael posts daily news on designer toys and low-brow art in Hebrew and English.