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Art Reborn


After a 21 year hiatus from painting, Israeli-born artist Elisha Ben-Yitzhak is back at his easel. For the past two decades, he has been building his business, Heavenly International Tours, and has had little time for such pleasures of soul. But at age 63, the Israeli-born Glendale resident is now back with an artistic vengeance, brush in hand.
After returning from a tour last November, he again got the urge to start painting. In February, Ben-Yitzhak subsequently participated in an exhibition and the Eisner Museum in Milwaukee. Spurred by that success, he then continued preparing for his current show, “Emotions,” at Donnybrook Fair in Whitefish Bay.

This frenzy of brush strokes was nothing new. Earlier his career, Ben-Yitzhak’s paintings had been shown in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Great Britain, Switzerland, Spain, Israel, and the United States.

A “sabra,” a native Israeli, Ben-Yitzhak was born in Kibbutz Kfar Blum in Upper Galilee. His father, Asher, was a devoted music fan who emigrated to Palestine from Russia in 1936. His mother, Havah, emigrated there from Lithuania in 1934. “Since I was a youngster, painting and sculpting have been major parts of my life,” he says. He started painting after being injured in a military training exercise. Ben-Yitzhak studied art at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and at the Avni Art Institute in Tel Aviv.

In the early 1970s, he worked for the Israeli ministry of tourism and was a spokesman for Jewish causes, during which time he was based in South Africa and in Milwaukee from 1980 to 1983. Around this time, he met a Milwaukee-based travel agent and the two discussed forming a tour company. Subsequently, Ben-Yitzhak moved permanently to Milwaukee. After 12 years in the tour world, he married Merle, his business partner; the two still run Heavenly International Tours.

On his latest trip to Israel this past March, he visited Art 107, a prestigious gallery on the trendy Ben Yehuda Street, to speak with the manager about considering an exhibition of his latest pieces. Establishing such connections are important, according to Ben-Yitzhak. “Don’t be shy,” he suggests as advice to other artists. “Approach galleries to see about doing shows. What good is it not to share your work?”

“Prior to living in Milwaukee, my whole life was art. It has been hard being away from it for so long,” Ben-Yitzhak says. “It’s burning inside of me, coming out, and now I can’t stop painting.”

All of Elisha Ben-Yitzhak’s works reflect personal experiences and symbols of life, he says, adding “My idea of painting is to find good composition. That’s the hardest part. I like to paint symbols and feelings.”

With newfound enthusiasm for his craft, Ben-Yitzhak doesn’t expect there will be another decades-long wait between art pieces. “I will now paint until I die,” he says.

Written by Martin Hintz

Source: M Magazine

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