As part of Tel Aviv's first art year (artyear.co.il) a 12-month program of exhibitions and events designed to solidify the Israeli city's position on the global art map more than 60 galleries and museums are throwing open their doors for free from Sept. 6 to 8. Known as Loving Art Making Art, the 72-hour orgy of complimentary admissions is being supported by lectures and workshops, all designed to mark Art Year's halfway point. Swinging by for a cultural fix? Here's a selection of what to see and where to be seen.
THE TEL AVIV MUSEUM OF ART
In between visits to the city's gallery up-and-comers, pop in to view Israel's artistic establishment at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art's year-old Amir wing (tamuseum.com). Set next to the museum's original, brutalist building, the recent addition is a cavernous, triplex labyrinth of exhibition and education spaces clustered around a 27-m atrium. Designed by architect Preston Scott Cohen, who is based in Cambridge, Mass., and covered in angular panels of concrete, the Amir wing is the nation's first repository for contemporary Israeli art. Don't forget to take a spin around the wing's gift shop for monographs and local industrial-design pieces before heading over to see the floating Calders and eye-popping Lichtensteins in the old wing.
BROWN TLV URBAN HOTEL
With its new rooftop bar and late-night weekend soirées, the Brown TLV Urban Hotel (browntlv.com) is finally fulfilling its potential as Tel Aviv's hippest hideaway. Set just beyond the gallery-filled Neve Tzedek quarter and within walking distance of the beach, the Brown is decorated with midcentury-inspired furniture, vintage Playboy photography and a serious collection of art and design tomes. Public spaces and 30 small but chic rooms have been designed by owners Leon Avigad and Nitzan Perry, and architect Rubi Israeli, in the namesake color palette. By day, the roof heaves with hard-bodied tanners who shift between comfy sun loungers and a sexy alfresco shower area. If you want to take a break from people watching, look out for art and photography throughout the hotel from ascendant Tel Avivi talents, including hyperrealistic photographer and artist Pilpeled.
First established some 10,000 years ago and immortalized in the Bible as the place where Jonah set out on his fateful encounter with a whale this 6-hectare piece of prime Mediterranean-front real estate has been transformed over the past half-decade from a neglected fishing depot into a commercial and creative hub (namalyafo.co.il). One of Israel's rare mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhoods, Jaffa's massive warehouses and original British Mandate era customs house are now home to restaurants and cafés, artists' studios and annual art fairs. Key newcomers include Dvir Gallery (dvirgallery.com), for large-scale works by blue-chip local artists; the eco-atelier Junktion (junktion.co.il), where industrial designer Gurit Magen creates multifunctional pieces from recycled and repurposed materials; and the Nalaga'at Center (nalagaat.org.il), a restaurant, theater and cultural center where most staffers are deaf or blind.
This indoor-outdoor watering hole is currently luring the city's famously fickle art and media set. Anchored by a cozy courtyard and lorded over by old-growth trees, Café Europa (Rothschild Boulevard 9B), tel: (972-3) 525 9987, offers a simple, pan-European menu lamb tortellini, sirloin scaloppine but the real focus is its cocktails. Drinks like the aptly named Local, which mixes fiery arrack with rose syrup, passion fruit and mint, are a potent mix of Europe and the Mediterranean. Lighter in body (though no less fierce) is the Green Gin, an herb-spiked potion of cucumber and lime-accented Tanqueray. Helmed by a quartet of Tel Aviv nightlife legends and set in the heart of the city's club-hopping core, this is a refreshingly grownup take on late-night revelry.
THE FLEA MARKET
Once a bastion of falafel and shawarma stands, Jaffa's historic Flea Market is increasingly luring upmarket restaurants. The latest, called Fleamarket, tel: (972-3) 620 2262, is spread over two floors. Its 1960s-style furnishings come courtesy of shopping sprees in, well, flea markets across Eastern Europe. Young chef and co-owner Shlomi Ben Shimol offers inventive interpretations of classic Levantine cuisine. Pickled mackerel is served with a veritable garden of peas, shallots, potatoes and beans, while white calamari is seared with tiny grilled tomatoes and okra chips on a bed of sheep's-milk yogurt. The eye-catching decor is highly covetable, though sadly not for sale. No matter: equally collectible finds are almost guaranteed a short stroll away.