CATS IN THE MORNING-I live for the mornings -Trici Venola New Year’s Day ©2008 After a summer of bullying and financial terror, I’d enjoyed a wonderful holiday which reminded me of who I am. So I found a fine apartment far from creeps and moved into it. My balcony and bedroom overlooked the old Orient Express rail line, the ruins of the Boukoleon Palace, and the Marmara Sea. Then Obama won the Presidential election. My cup ran over on this splendid day, spend lounging in the new bedroom with the new view, the cats, and a good book by an old cohort.
Book 22 SEA PALACE-New Year’s Day to July 2008-Trici Venola ©2008 Boats drawn while sitting up in bed looking out at the Marmara Sea. The best view I’d ever had. This book includes a lot of drawings of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. It’s the oldest continuously-occupied city in Europe, going back 8000 years. It fell to Philip of Macedon a mere 2500 years ago. It’s had many names, but Plovdiv is actually Bulgarian. I went there via train for one day every three months for about four years, to renew my Turkish residence visa. During that time I was paying huge rent by freelancing, so one day was all I could afford. It was bliss to wander about Plovdiv drawing with no thought of anything else. I have an entire book of drawings of Plovdiv, scattered through several of the Turkish books.
BOUKOLEON LONELY-Lingering lonely in the cold by the side of the highway-Boukoleon Palace out my window-First snow-January-TriciVenola©2008 The Boukoleon Palace was built by the Iconoclastic Emperor Theophilos in the 9th century. Originally clad in vivid multicolored marble, later studded with statues, it rose up out of the sea, ships sailing right up below its stunning portals. We can glimpse one of them from the back of this surviving colonnade. The Palace was burned by 4th Crusaders in 1204, dynamited by the British in 1871 to build the Orient Express, and semi-demolished by the Turkish Republic to build the highway in 1962. Now it’s a dog run.
-By day he’s Levent but by night he’s NIKKI WILD, the coolest rocker in Turkey.-Cihangir-6 January-TriciVenola©2008 A Turkish friend, seeing this, said, “Oh, THAT guy. I know THAT guy!! Everybody in Istanbul knows that guy. Back in high school, no scene, so lame, but there was that guy!! Nikki ran for years the cleanest rock club in Beyoglu. I hope he’s happy.
GIRL ON THE TRAM-Girl on the tram-Rush hour-lost-January-TriciVenola ©2008 Crushed down in crowd of great big men in damp overcoats, she looked like she was wishing herself into the next world. I couldn’t draw her at the time, but I stared at her for the whole ride. She never blinked.
SUCCESSFUL CELAL-Celal sitting pretty at Kalamar Restaurant n Kumkapi-The night we finally saw the Hasankeyf documentary.-12 January-Trici Venola ©2008 Old friend Celal started out in Kumkapi standing outside Kalamar Restaurat, inveigling tourists in several languages to come inside. Now he owns it. Celal sent me to Hasankeyf on the train to draw the city and the dam protest, and while there I was extensively interviewed by a TV crew as part of a documentary. I was able to plug the restaurant, but they hadn’t seen it until the night I drew this. When we came to that part, the place exploded in cheers.
THE STABLE GATE-The Gatekeeper at AgirKapi:-He nods and touches his hat to every car and person through the gate. Istanbul abounds with ghosts and although he grinned at his portrait I am not sure he hasn’t always been there, so I drew him as part of the wall. The other old man is just coming through the gate.-Trici Venola ©2008 All the diverse elements of Istanbul: the 4th century Byzantine sea-wall, topped by 15th century Ottoman turrets, the modern art and highway, the massive ship sailing the Bosporus. Why not a ghost? He’s drawn into the wall at left, above the arch.
INTERVIEW WITH ZAMAN-Anne Andlaver & photographer Onur Hoban of Today’s Zaman interviewing me at Kybele.-Onur-Anne-Trici Venola ©2008 As I recall, a huge black cloud came and squatted over the city, making it pitch dark at about 4 PM. In this, we got some interesting photos. Trust me, very dark! I drew this because I liked their contrasting faces.
ALI SANCI & MIKE DJINN-Kybele Otel-February-Trici Venola ©2008 Old friend Ali Sanci now lives in Germany but comes often to visit old friends in Sultanahmet. The Djinn is a Christmas present I made for Mike, former owner of Kybele Hotel. It’s designed to hang on the Kybele Christmas tree, but they left it up all year.
ZDRAVKO-A freezing sunny day-My favorite cafe in Plovdiv-13 February-TriciVenola ©2008 This kid, like so many others in Plovdiv, was waiting tables before heading for college in England. I hope he’s had a happy life.
BABES IN PLOVDIV –The fashion: Bulgarians seem to be pulling away from the detestable tight-ankle boot-Best fashion accessory of the day: black grosgrain ribbon bows on the back of the boot. Cute as lace pants!-Only saw one woman with this look- white leather &white &apricot fox- looks dated to me.-Baby Boris Karloff from Book 19’s name is Nikolay.-Drunk on the trees! Gloriously natural as God made them-I sit on a hard wall with freezing feet in the sun here in Plovdiv. A few dirty looks; dunno if it’s my sitting on the wall or my Russian hat.-Izdrafko-Zdravko-TriciVenola ©2008
SHRIVELED STONE WALL-Golden sandstone- I don’t know how old this wall is, but they just told me in the history museum that Plovdiv goes back to 6000 BC , a lot longer ago than this wall’s probable builder, Philip of Macedon.-Trici Venola ©2008 Having drawn dozens of walls since, I now think this one is a mere five or six centuries old. Philip of Macedon more likely built its foundation. I drew it because of the way the sandstone blocks are actually shrunken in their frames, like really old people.
TWO TAKES ON HISARKAPI -Hisarkapi-Oldtown PLOVDIV-Bulgaria-Just a layout-TriciVenola ©2008
-Another study of Hisarkapi-Krasi
On several successive visits to Plovdiv, I started to draw this Byzantine city gate. The one at left was probably abandoned because of the harsh line at the top of the wall, where I started to draw it too high, and the one at right, because I simply ran out of time. I eventually got it, in another book.
Hisarkapi, in the middle of Oldtown, is on ancient Greek and Roman foundations, with fabulous gabled wooden houses built onto it a couple of centuries ago by wealthy Ottoman Turks.
A CAT &A DRUNK IN PLOVDIV
-[Drunk] Charleton Heston here had bits of leaf in his hair & 3 words in English: “Bill Clinton (I made a kiss face) “George Bush” (I spat) and “Bourbon?” (I said No thank you.) I told him he looked like Moses. He bought me 2 coffees & was still trying to get me to join him w/a bourbon when I left at 1:00 AM. Plovdiv
-[Cat] I’m drawing this filthy little charmer with a tight tummy, which is how I left him after a trip to the fast food place across the street… sight… hope he finds another cat sucker soon…
BOUKOLEON SNOW-Kopek Var Dog-Happy snowing Sunday all day-TriciVenola ©2008
A blissful day sitting up on my bed drawing out the window. I’m from Los Angeles; snow for an Angeleno is an exotic delight. The old Orient Express line runs below the drawing. That’s the Marmara Sea out beyond the Boukoleon Palace ruin, with a ship barely visible. People were still living in the wooden house at left; that’s their dog in the Palace.
SNOWBALL FIGHT-Out my front window January 08-Trici Venola ©2008 High glee with every snowfall. Later the belidiye salted the hill. It was safer, but spoiled everyone’s fun.
Spectral light over the Marmara out my back window, with the snowball fight in front. O this was a happy time!
CHECKING IT OUT-Actual profile seen on the ferry-Winter ’08-TriciVenola ©2008
Women in Turkey are quite polarized on the headscarf issue.
OH, GRANDMA!–On the feribot-TriciVenola ©2008 Universal teenage eye-rolling at the prudish insistence of grandmas worldwide.
THE GIRLS-Liz-Leyla-Beyza-Leyla NW Dogumgünü-A night out with these babes put me back on the map emotionally-Like fresh wind blowing through my old attic-Trici Venola ©2008
CAN AT PEKAR MARKET-Can at Pekar Market & Helper-Sultanahmet ’08-Trici Venola ©2008 When I moved to Sultanahmet in 2004, Can was 20 and had just gotten out of the Army. He was the youngest of the five Pekar brothers, and I was happy to see him when I moved back to Sultanahmet in 2007. The store had a tiny wall-mounted TV. One winter night very early on, when I owned no movies and had no Internet, we watched the end of ‘Gladiator’ together, tears in our eyes. The little kid, who I called Little Big Man for his insistence on carrying huge water bottles, is all grown up now. Big!
SULTANAHMET WEST drawn whilst living there. Can and Little Big Man are to the left of Kucuk Aya(sofya) and I’m at right, behind the Boukoleon Palace, with my five cats, roommate Ida, and friend Kubilay the Painter above.
HAPPY CATS -My beautiful boys in the morning.-TriciVenola ©2008
Despite constant gnawing financial anxiety, this was a blissful time. The ruins and the sea just outside, my young and happy pussycats, and a wonderful roommate. Tourism was picking up, and there was a lot of optimism. Ygor (black and white) and Pinkie look downright gleeful. I guess they were because they’re still with me 10 years later!
ROOM WITH A VIEW / BOUKOLEON WINDOW
-God protect the visual antiquity of this wall-Boukoleon Palace wall-Every stone tells a story-March 08-TriciVenola ©2008
This drawing took a few days as I drew every single stone exactly. This window in in the wall of the 9th century Boukoleon Palace. Nicophorus Phocas was murdered here; the beautiful Theofano who betrayed him was in turn betrayed here; Zoe lived here with her husbands and her detested sister. 400 years of Byzantine rulers paced through its colonnades, dined, danced, argued and loved in its many rooms. This 10-foot window once commanded a view high above the Marmara Sea. We can see the remains of a balcony below the sill. There was a colonnade above it; one column is still visible at to left, and the edge of its floor extends across the drawing above the arch of the window. A hole at center indicates an attached ornament. The walls on either side would have been clad in polished colored marble. Ships sailed up below this window, and someone have stood in it, waving a scarf silvered in the sun. After the Crusaders burned the Palace in 1204, people continued to live in it clear up until Sultan Abdulhamid allowed the British to dynamite it in 1871, to build the Orient Express. All during the centuries, the wall was fortified in layers as the waves lashed fifteen meters below. By the early 20th century, the harbor had silted up, and in 1962 the Turkish Government filled the area outside the wall and built the highway. As I drew this, the whoosh of cars behind me recalled the sigh of the waves. At this writing, the window is still there.
EAGER STUDENT: Boukoleon Ruin resident Ahmet Dal was my companion while drawing the Boukoleon window (Room with a View). He made store runs, loved the book on Byzantium & kept the creeps away. “I may be poor,” he said, “but I live in a palace.”-Ahmet Dal-Walking Thru Byzantium-Trici Venola ©2008
This excellent book is from Byzantium1200.com, one of the best references on Byzantine Constantinople. I don’t know what became of Ahmet, but I hope his fortunes improved.
The window is huge! In the top photo above, notice the portal at lower right, sticking up out of the grass. The original Palace rose out of the sea, which was about 15 meters below this landfill.
Both photos are by patron Donna Perkins.
OLD CORNER IN THE BAZAAR
-Grand Bazaar March 2008-Mesut 1989-Trici Venola ©2008
The Grand Bazaar is a architectural testimony to its nomadic Ottoman builders: everything was created as needed over centuries of trade. This busy intersection is just past the large Bedesten at the main gate. The Bazaar’s famous paint job, with white, yellow and red tulips on a dark background, was done by art students in the early 1980s (after the coup). Having drawn it many times, I think they all must have gone mad. The paint here is quite peeled from water damage. Of course, in early days there was likely no glass in those windows anyway, and the Bazaar pre-dates plumbing and electricity by several centuries, so all of that shows. I’ve been in here during power shortages, and there’s always enough light from the windows to see your way to the next store.
NEA EKKLESIA SUBSUMING
-Sinking into history: Nea Ekklesia Church from across the railroad
-Consecrated CE 880:
-It was the Nea Ekklesia Church with 5 gilded domes, spared by the great Mehmet Pasa for respect of its beauty. His son used it as an ammunition dump. As so often it was blown up sometime in the 17th century. (He poisoned his father too.)-I sat drawing in a doorway of the remains, which have been pressed into service as dwellings. Someone had plastered the walls & painted it blue, the place was wrecked & burned & full of rubbish, but the filthy ceiling is still coffered and the broken edge of marble floor beyond the doorsill is 5 inches thick. Gececondos grew like mushrooms since Sultan Abdulhamid ran the railroad through here in 1871. I drew this from Gypsytown across the tracks. The splendid doorway two drawings down is center. while I drew the owner of the pigeon coop climbed up to bring me Turkish coffee.
NEA EKKESIA WITH PIGEONS-Doorway of a thousand-year-old church, now a pigeon coop.-Sitting here in the flapping and cooing cold like the cat amongst the pigeons.-Sultanahmet--TriciVenola ©2008 -09
An old lady last lived here, they told me. This was most likely her kitchen door. The family occupying the ruins is most curious about them, and very proud to live there. The father did indeed bring me coffee. Until very recently, there was a great deal of the church across the street, but it has been razed for another hotel. At this writing, this chunk is still here, but difficult to access. Here I am drawing it. The marble floor, sticking out at the threshold next to me, is 5 inches thick.
FULYA’S CHILDREN-Ömerhan-Öykü-TriciVenola ©2008
These kids and I had a lot of fun with art lessons. Oykü is holding a picture of herself at three., taken by their mother Fulya, a talented photographer. They’re all grown up now!
HUMAN RIGHTS SHOW-“Human Rights” at Istanbul Modern. A fabulous performance art piece, the best show of contemporary art I’ve seen here. A vast warehouse loft filled with metal tables covered w/paper. And at each one a dancer is painfully and with difficulty trying to write. With teeth in contortions, by jumping & twisting, blind, by direction… but as each tried something more impossible, people would come from the guests to help. It read on so many levels. Around the walls, charcoal smeared & splattered slogans. At one end, a statement of human rights in English & Turkish as set out by world conference. The dancers were every race & nationality.-TriciVenola ©2008 Went to the show with Fulya and Öykü. A real eye-opener.
-Fatih-Halit Necdet’s Barbershop in Büyük Han
This small courtyard leads from the street into the huge Buyuk Valide Han, full of mens’ clothing shops where the barber’s customers worked. He was happy to pose, and has since retired.
ALI’S FRUIT STAND
-Ali’s Fruit Stand-Kumkapi-Easter Sunday-March 2008-TriciVenola ©2008
Many Istanbullus love this drawing, as it reminds them of their own local store. It was between Çesme Restaurant and the huge ruined hamam in Kadirga, near Kucuk Ayasofya, around the corner from my first apartment. For years, I shopped there for fruit and vegetables. Ali has since retired, and now there’s a huge market every Wednesday in the parking lot next to the Hippodrome Sphendone.
LITTLE GIRLS-Easter Sunday-Cold and grey-But this drawing saved my dismal day.-Nurcan- Melek -Meral- Melisa-All of them angels! The little girls from my neighborhood (Kücük Ayasofya) I’ve watched growing up. Aren’t they beautiful?-Easter Sunday 23 March-TriciVenola ©2008
The thing was, I couldn’t find the Crimean Memorial Church. All dressed up for Easter in my painted velvet coat, I’d set out across the Galata Bridge and tried to find the church from below. I trudged up and down the steep streets for hours and finally gave up, crying in frustration and disappointment. Walked home and went to the market, saw Ali at his fruit stand and, around the corner, these little girls, who had played in my apartment Saturdays when I lived in the neighborhood, and just started drawing. I’m so glad I did.
THE SEA GATE– TriciVenola ©2008 BOUKOLEON PALACE: This keyhole-shaped portal rose straight out of the water. The Sea Gate of the great Byzantine Sea Palace, with the Orient Express railroad line running behind it. Rising at top right are the ruins of the Palace itself, just a small piece of the monumental whole. Built into the city’s sea walls in the late 9th century, the Palace originally rose out of the Marmara Sea itself. This water gate accommodated small craft bearing passengers from the big ships at anchor.Diginitaries stepped onto its carved balconies, to be met with all pomp and panoply. The present ground level is about fifteen feet (5 meters) above the old water level. The carved marble is a balcony that ran the length of the Palace. At this writing the Gate is still there, visible if one walks behind a chain-link fence and a power station topped with razor wire.
BOUKOLEON SEA GATE WITH LEYLA ©TriciVenola ©2008 I had drawn the Sea Gate. But there was nothing in the drawing to indicate how big the thing was, so I asked my friend Leyla to pose for me, and later incorporated her into the drawing. Below is an engraving by Eugene Flandin of the Boukoleon in 1853, before the railroad and the highway.
The Boukoleon now, and a painting by French artist and Byzantine expert Antoine Helbert showing it as it was a thousand years ago. The Sea Gate is at center.
THE INHERITORS -Belidiye workers with chunks of the Boukoleon Palace in the railroad below my balcony.-Sultanahmet Summer 2008 -Trici Venola ©2008
Story of Istanbul. The huge ziggurat-cut chunks of marble, Greek with Asian overtones, seldom figure in representations of the Byzantines, but most of those folks don’t live where they can see the pieces. Sultan Abdulhamid didn’t care enough about this spectacular ruin to preserve it, and neither did the British, who blew it up to build this railroad. All pieces of the Palace, large and small, are triangular-shaped, left where they fell when the Palace was shattered by dynamite in 1871. This is what the Orient Express cost. During the time I lived there, friends and I would periodically patrol the railroad bed, dragging huge trash sacks and picking up the rubbish hurled by people in the neighborhood. Nobody seemed to care about the rotting glory. This stuff is probably all still there, although the rail service is discontinued. “Restoration” on the Palace has been announced.
The view from my balcony in summer of 2008.
CITY OF SHIPS (FAST TAKE) -City of ships--TriciVenola ©2008 At night, you’d swear there was an island city out there. All were waiting to go up the Bosporus to the Black Sea.
SKY BLUE SCARF FRIENDS -Audrey Hepburn and Angelina Jolie here were thrilled with their portraits but declined to have them sent online. Instead, I photocopied ‘em & left two copies at the cafe for them to pick up later.-Cülcan & Leyla-Best friends in sky-blue satin scarves. Beauties from Batman & Mardin.
I really liked them, and I never saw them again. I hope they’re having happy lives. A year later I had a skirmish with a nasty local character, and asked the police for an escort home. The nasty character was parked in front of my apartment, waiting. On the way home, one of the police said, “You drew my girlfriend in a blue scarf. She loved it.” His girlfriend was Leyla, on the right. So what the nasty character saw was two strapping armed police walking me up my steps and into the apartment, where they glowered out the windows until he left. He never came back. I owe her one!!
SADI ASIA MINOR-Sadi, my old friend from Asia Minor Carpets in Sultanahmet. Turned me onto the now famous “Mamboury A” section of the Magnaura Complex Ruin [Corridor of Lord]. In my story “Just Under Your Feet” Sadi is “the nephew.” The story appeared in an anthology: Encounters with the Middle East, Ed. Jim Bowman, 2006 Solas House. I have a long acquaintance with Asia Minor Carpets, which excavated their section of the Corridor of Lord in 1999. They have wisely replaced the carpet shop with a cafe called “Palatium.” You can still go into the ruin.
BURAK AS TONY MONTANA-Burak in his “Tony Montana” guise.-Burak–TriciVenola ©2008 Burak was running the family restaurant when I met him, one of my first friends in Sultanahmet. He and his buddy Gurhan helped me find my first apartment and assisted in the early time before I had any idea how to do anything. The night my first show opened, in Sultanahmet, there was a terrific storm. Nonetheless the place was packed, as I was by then a local. And into the melee burst Burak, waving an enormous sheaf of white roses in one arm and brandishing a roll of banknotes in the other, shouting, “This stuff is great!! I want to BUY something!!” And he did. We artists should all have such friends.
SWEET SUMMER TWILIGHT –Piano music from somewhere-The rush of the highway–Shriek of birds–O sweet long summer twilight–Out on the balcony with Ygor–4 years my cat-&now in this happiest of homes–Over the ruined Boukoleon arches–The train and the sea.–Never forget 8:32 PMSunday July 13 2008–TriciVenola ©2008
Remembering joy like a pain. It’s ten years later and Ygor is still with me.
With Ygor in 2008.
Ygor just now.
KAMIL-Quiet hero.-Kamil-TriciVenola ©2008 He’s a hero because he’s one of the few locals who is also an historian for the neighborhood. He told me things like Cervantes, who wrote Don Quixote, having built the mosque in my neighborhood in Tophane. True. Mimar Sinan built that mosque, and used slaves to do it. Cervantes was one of them, and to the end of his days he loathed Turks and all things Turkish. How the Spanish came to loan slaves to the Ottoman Turks I do not know.
May 2008-…Maya waking up in the garden at Kybele-TriciVenola ©2008
Maya’s Grandmother Susie and I watched her wake up.
MAYA SLEEPING IN THE GARDEN
Kybele-Maya sleeping in the garden May 2008-TriciVenola ©2008
…and we watched her sleep again.
IN THE CORRIDORS OF LORD-April 22 2008-34 years sober today-TriciVenola ©2008 34 years before this drawing, I cleaned up my act in order to do right by my talent and create art worth looking at. Drawing this fabulous Byzantine window was the best way to celebrate. It’s part of the Corridor of Lord, which connected the Manaura Palace to the Church of Lord down the hill. The Empress walked the corridor above, in grand processional, from her marriage in the Church to its consummation in the Palace. Chanting priests, acolytes swinging censers, clouds of incense, torchlight on polished marble or sunshine slanting in through the windows, bridesmaids singing and flinging flowers… a thousand years ago. While here below, slaves built up the fires to warm the floors above, there was a bathhouse, there were soldiers. All gone now.
THE PATCHWORK WALL-Next to the Arasta Bazaar -Byzantine-Ottoman piecemeal wall sealing off the ruined Aetos Church & Wall of Nicophorus Phocas from the street. The latter runs right under me here toward the Blue Mosque. It used to connect the Boukoleon to the Great Palace.-TriciVenola ©5/2008
This wall was sandblasted by “restorers” some years ago, the guard tower kitsched up, and the 10th century Aetos Church and its frescoes razed for a hotel. We tried to get some help from Unesco, but were informed that the country in which the antiquities reside had to cooperate. I did get pictures, and I will do drawings. Stay tuned.
Drawing the ruined, doomed Aetos Church in 2008, and its location near the Arasta Bazaar.
MOON OVER SULEYMANIYE-Drawn to the beat of the tribal music wailing wilder and faster-Antik Restaurant with Zaza-A balmy Friday night on the bridge-11 July 2008- Galata Bridge-TriciVenola ©2008 Walking home alone in the summer night, I stopped on the bridge in a restaurant I’d never noticed and found it belonged to an old acquaintance, Zaza. I’d been hiding out at home a lot that year, but the night was so beautiful I got out the book and started drawing. Am I glad I did!! Later, the moon dropped between the minarets like a horse into a corral.
STREET SCENE WITH MINARETS-Wild tribal music-A hot July night-The moon caught in the minarets of the Suleymaniye Mosque-TriciVenola ©2008 And here it is: the moon caught in the minarets of Suleymaniye Camii. Next day I told an old man and he said, “Oh, I’ve seen it like that!!” Suleymaniye was built by premier Renaissance architect Mimar Sinan. He probably did it on purpose
-Opera singer Ceyhan Tekellioglu at Coffee World in the Spice Bazaar.-TriciVenola ©2008
And a 16th century window above him.
DOG IN THE RUINS
The Boukoleon. Beyond the ruins, the moon over the Marmara Sea, out my window summer nights as I fell asleep.