The General Exhibition
In the heart of the Artists Quarter, the General Exhibition shows work by Members of the Artists Colony of Safed. Situated in the old Market Mosque off Arlozorov Street, the General Exhibition faces several small artists' studios across a large courtyard. Nearby is the Maximilian Café. The whole ambience is very pleasant and you could easily spend a few hours here browsing around.
The building that houses this gallery is known as the Market Mosque because it is adjacent to the old site of the Safed weekly shuk (market) and was previously used as a mosque by the city's former Arab population. The building itself was built upon Mamluke foundations in 1902, and has the arches and domed ceilings typical of the local Arab architecture of the time. The mosque was used as a place of worship until the War of Independence in 1948.
During the pre-Independence period from 1929 until 1948 Friday prayers in the mosque were often used to incite the city's Arabs into attacking the local Jewish population. Until this time the two communities had lived relatively peacefully side by side, but this finished after the 1929 uprisings.
The Artists Colony
The founding members of the Artists Colony settled in Safed shortly after the creation of the State of Israel and took over the abandoned mosque to use as an exhibition center for their artists' cooperative. The Artists Colony was very important in the development of Israeli art with some of its artists like Moshe Castel and Yitzhak Frenkel becoming internationally recognized.
Today you can walk around the permanent exhibition or see a special show which the members put on from time to time. Most of the artists working in Safed today are current members of the Artist Colony and members can use this space to exhibit and sell their work. This is true even if they also have their own shop or gallery elsewhere in town. The studios opposite are rented out at below market rates for limited periods of time to help up and coming artists find their footing.
The exhibition displays original paintings and sculptures as well as prints and lithographs. Because the work on show comes from its wide membership, past and present, there is a variety of styles and quality. All the work at the General Exhibition is for sale and much of it is quite affordable, even if you are on a small budget. You might be lucky and buy something which later on becomes a valuable investment. In any event, you will have a lovely souvenir of your visit to Safed.
Sunday - Thursday
10.00am - 5.00pm extended to 6.00pm in summer or later in the height of the season
Friday 10.00am - 2.00pm
Saturday 10.00am - 2.00pm
Entrance is free.