By Deb Silverthorn
Rainbows from rain is what Allen resident Saul Schisler is creating, leaving his mark on the walls of bomb shelters, restaurants, homes, schools, and public buildings of Sderot, Israel. An artist who connected with Artists 4 Israel, Schisler’s work joins those bringing a brighter hue to the community.
“I went to Sderot, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem with Artists 4 Israel to paint murals and walls to beautify and spread messages of hope to citizens of Israel and Zionists worldwide. The more money that is raised, the more public work I can do around the city and the more colorful this city will become. I don’t want to leave one ugly yellow bomb shelter unpainted, and I don’t want this city to ever feel neglected or forgotten again,” said Schisler who will return to Sderot from June 4 to July 12. “These people have been under rocket attack from the terrorist organization Hamas for a decade, and the city is full of reminders of their current plight.”
Schisler, the son of Howell Schisler, and Shelley Meyers and Avi Mitzner, is looking to his home community, family and friends to help in raising funds to support his stay with the project. Through June 1, donations can be made online at www.kickstarter.com/projects/Saulschis/saul-paints-sderot. The 2009 graduate of Winfree Academy, who will attend New York’s Pratt Institute, School of Art & Design in the fall, is the eldest brother to Becky, Evan, Leora, Jonah, Sam, Tammy, and Jacquie. A member of Congregation Shearith Israel, Schisler was an involved member of the ZOHAR chapter of United Synagogue Youth.
Schisler’s Israel experience began with the nine-month Young Judaea – FZY Year Course Program Visual Art Track. He had the opportunity to volunteer, study academically, earn college credit, study art and be a part of special arts enrichment such as field trips and meetings with known Israeli artists.
“From the start of the year, Saul has exhibited an artistic passion and drive that was beyond compare. He would stay up nights painting and explore the art scene on his own in addition to participating in the weekly classes and activities the program offered,” said Anna Abramzon, Coordinator of Art Programs for Young Judaea and Federation of Zionist Youth Year Course. “Saul’s commitment and love for art proved to be contagious to the other students and he has been a wonderful addition to the group.”
“Saul was a transformative and vibrant addition to the Artists 4 Israel Murality Mission,” said Craig Dershowitz, president of Artists 4 Israel. “The youngest of the artists, Saul was selected to join the trip based on his enthusiasm and chutzpah. He stepped into a program full of graffiti legends and accomplished artists and made it clear that his art should also be recognized. Immediately, we were happy with our decision.”
“Saul’s work, bright plays of color and depth, oftentimes resulting in floral motifs of piercing yet still, somehow, delicate beauty, resonated with the citizens of Sderot,” said Dershowitz. “He made pieces of utter joy and easily-grasped beauty, heightened and glorified, even more magical by the impossible settings where they were kept. As his work moved to the forefront, literally blossoming before our eyes, so did Saul. He became comfortable with the reporters and cameras and even more comfortable with the people of Sderot. He engaged them as he worked, turning each moment into a chance of one-on-one connection and spiritual upliftment.”
For Schisler, whose first trip to Israel was through USY’s Etgar Outdoor Adventure Summer program, going to Israel for a year was never a question, but a given. “I remember him telling me not ‘if I go back,’ but ‘I will go back,’” said his mother, herself the art teacher at Ford Middle School in Allen, who is still amazed that her son is able to spray paint the side of a police station. “Isn’t that incredible? I’m so excited and proud that he found a way to bring his really incredible talent out, and to do so with the spirit that he has.”
“Saul sent an email thanking me for the sacrifices made on his behalf, that doesn’t happen for many parents,” said Meyers. “His total heart is in this totally selfless act and I’m so proud of him.”
Schisler who only began seriously exploring his own talents in high school, started by painting and drawing on canvas and paper. He was moved to explore street art, just last year. “I think street art is all about reactions and I love it when I get positive reactions to my work; people walking by and saying how beautiful it is or thanking me for painting,” said Schisler who says it takes between two to five hours to paint a wall. “But I also enjoy when someone gets ticked off because of my work. At least they peeled their eyes away from their Blackberries or iPods long enough to notice. Right now, the art I am doing in Sderot is different. The sole reason I am there is to beautify the city.”
“The locals in Sderot love our work,” said Schisler who has worked with many artists, including Young Judaea mate Dan Solomon. “Many here feel that they have been forgotten. When you go up to anyone and tell them you are one of the painters, they tell you how thankful they are, and how much they love what we are doing.”
“I was so impressed when he was accepted by Artists for Israel and invited to join their tour in Israel,” said Abramzon. “We are so glad this proved to be an inspiring experience for him and I am incredibly proud of him for taking the next step on his own. Saul is such a driven, passionate, and talented young artist, I am sure we will all be saying we knew him when!
“I’m hoping people at home will help me remind the people of Sderot,” said Schisler, “that they still matter and the rest of the world hasn’t forgotten about them.”
Donations can be made online, through June 1, at www.kickstarter.com/projects/Saulschis/saul-paints-sderot. After that deadline, donations can be sent to Saul Schisler, c/o 1418 Fieldstone Drive, Allen, TX 75002