Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jewish Quarter revival

In the Old City's quietest, most neglected neighborhood, a collection of crumbling, once-grand homes known as Harat Al-Yahud -- the Jewish Quarter -- an artistic revival of sorts is underway. It is now home to a dozen Syrian artists, who have converted old Arabic-style courtyard houses into studios and sometimes galleries.

(The Syrian government continues to respect the deeds of the absentee owners, most of whom emigrated to New York in the early 1990s, which makes renewal a slow process.)

This art colony of sorts is anchored by well-known Syrian scupltor Mustafa Ali, who four years ago moved into the former home of the Bukais family, Jewish silk traders. He uses the house to exhibit his own work, as well as that of other artists, and occasionally hosts free music concerts and dance performances. On Sunday, the young Syrian jazz singer, Rasha Riziq, performed to a packed house.