In the early 1950s, Janco arrived at Ein Hod, a deserted Arab village on the slopes of Mt. Carmel. Impressed by its beauty and historic significance, he committed himself to find a way to restore the site. After failing in his attempts to attract investors for a hotel or settle new immigrants there, he returned to his dream of an artists’ colony, similar to the model he had proposed for Jaffa. Advertising in the organs of the painters’ associations, he invited artists to join him in the project. In 1953, Janco and the first group of artists set to work to restore the ruins, taking care to preserve the characteristics of the local stone architecture and remain true to the original.
Indeed, the protocol of a meeting of the Ein Hod Development Committee from 1960 reads: “Any planning or construction in the village and all development activities shall be undertaken with maximum regard for the preservation of the physical character of the village itself and its surroundings.” Over time, Ein Hod became a model of holistic preservation, relating to the whole of the surrounding space and not merely to a particular historic monument or a singular representation of culture. In view of the current popularity of the term “multidisciplinary,” Janco’s approach to preservation was clearly way ahead of its time.
Janco’s studio, situated in an old Arab house with stone arches, was also restored with meticulous attention to maintaining the character of the original. Even so, in his own home he could not resist the temptation to set a huge window with a modernist grid high up on the northern wall. The combination of the carefully preserved Arab building and the modernist window perfectly typifies the contrast between Janco’s innovative nature as an artist and his conservative approach to historic sites.
In other ways as well, Janco sought to give the village a special quality. Faithful to the Constructivist spirit, he believed artists should not only support themselves by their talent, creating art for art’s sake in their studio, but should also foster other artistic endeavors. With the idea of integrating the arts very close to his heart, he sought to promote the model of the “artisan-artist.” He established this model in Ein Hod in the hope of combining high and applied art in a manner that would ultimately produce a unique Israeli folk art. For him, craftsmanship was the starting point for art, and its integration into architecture was at the foundation of his ideology. He encouraged the Ein Hod artists to paint on the walls of their homes and studios, on public buildings, and particularly on the restaurant, setting up a “painting roster” for that purpose. Each year, one artist was responsible for decorating the walls of the restaurant. The result was left on view for a certain period of time, and then it was whitewashed over and another artist set to work.
The walls of Janco’s studio were also covered in paintings and decorations typical of the artist’s work, including sinuous blue forms, nude courtesans, a bird with the letters “DADA” below, compositions, geometric shapes, and so on. Due to problems of damp typical of stone buildings, over the years plaster repairs of the inner walls were done with cement and most of the paintings were ruined. Some of them came to light during the reconstruction work on the studio, and underwent painstaking restoration and preservation at the expert hands of Shai Farkash and Eli Shealtiel.