Pictured above: Ora Tamir working in her studio.
She was born on a kibbutz: a settlement surrounded by the stark beauty of the Israeli desert. And while she currently lives in Kfar Saba, a 20-minute ride from Tel Aviv, she is drawn to Arizona’s landscape and architecture, and feels fortunate to have friends living here.
Acclaimed artist Ora Tamir will debut her new surrealistic work at the Arizona Fine Art EXPO, which runs daily from 10 am to 6 pm from Jan. 11 to March 24. Known as one of Arizona’s best venues for collecting fine art, the event features 124 patron-friendly artist studios within a 44,000 square-foot space under the “festive white tents” at 26540 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, on the southwest corner of Scottsdale and Jomax Roads, next to MacDonald’s Ranch.
When Ora was young, she would spend hours gazing at masterpieces in Tel Aviv’s Museum of Art.
“It became my art class – my favorite playground,” Ora says, adding that she loved color and the power of the line.
After completing a two-year service in the Israel Defense Forces, she traveled to New York. It was there that she discovered the work of Salvador Dali for the first time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“I was awestruck. That night I had a vivid dream – in it, a child was tied to a balloon, grasping her parents’ hands. I immediately sketched it and knew I had crossed into the world of Surrealism for good,” she says.
Her career took off, and she received numerous accolades over the past four decades, including having her painting “Passage” featured on the cover of Art Business News in 2002.
“Surrealism allows me to paint whatever my heart desires. Realistic with unrealistic connections, it is painting things that do not exist in the world the way cameras see it,” says Ora. “I paint driven by an instinct within me that directs me…it is painting from the unconscious.”
She views each new painting as an adventure, taking her down an untraveled path. She prefers to paint in solitude, with no sounds or distractions.
“I paint by soul, never bending to trends or criticism. I live true to my wonderful obsession,” she says. “By gazing at a finished piece, I get what the story is. Surrealism is an art form that lets the viewer make up their own story. All stories are different, and all of them make sense.”
She finds inspiration in the desert, rocks, the beauty of the human body, modern dance, ballet and science fiction.
“I stare at people and landscapes, and they appear disguised in my paintings. I never use models; they live in my head,” she says.
Ora prefers the deep, brilliant, rich colors of oil paint, and she works in layers, applying fresh paint on a dry painted layer.
“My backgrounds depict the Israeli desert which I love, especially the area close to the Dead Sea. My colors are the colors of the Mediterranean, the vivid colors of Israeli beaches and land,” she says.
She uses watercolor, inks and acrylic for accents in her drawings, but only sparingly since her drawings are mostly black and white.
Ora and her late husband, Eli Tamir, immigrated to California in 1980, where they raised three teenagers. As her business manager, Eli helped her tremendously with many aspects of her career. His passing in December 2016 was such a devastating loss to her, she had trouble painting at first, but when she did pick up the paintbrush again, she continued with her surrealistic images, only now they are a bit softer.
Her faith helps her stay grounded, and she keeps up with all Jewish traditions.
“I love to listen to rabbis, and I frequently attend a synagogue, especially when there is a guest speaker,” she says. “I highly respect Orthodox Jews and credit them with keeping our people going for thousands of years.”
During the Arizona Fine Art EXPO, Ora will exhibit new surrealistic paintings and drawings as well as some of the originals from her private collection, which have never been offered for sale to the public.
The fine art show is open rain or shine. Season passes cost $10; season passes for seniors and military are $8; and children under 12 are free. Parking is free. For details, call 480-837-7163 or visit ArizonaFineArtEXPO.com.