Spring 2003. I had spent the fall and winter recovering from a bone infection in my left knee, while writing a book about my bad romance in a sublime setting in Southern Turkey. An old story unless you were me. I had ripped up my whole life and all I wanted to keep was drawing in Turkey, so I went back there for a visit before going back to the US to take up another surgery.
FRONTSPIECE: AYASOFYA MOZART
Hagia Sophia has the best acoustics of any temple in Europe. This was the first time in centuries that a concert had been held inside. As the dome was under construction, we were upstairs in the Imperial Gallery, being observed by the mosaics of Empress Zoe, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. It was Mozart’s Requiem, followed by music from modern Turkish composers. A magical night, limos, VIPs, white roses and candles floating in bowls of water all up the flagstone ramp to the upper level. I got in by showing the guards my sketchbook. Am I glad I drew it!
THOMAS & SYLVIA’s HOUSE
In Essen, near Dusseldorf, on my way to Istanbul, I visited old art cohorts Thomas and Sylvia. I expect they’ve been married for a long time now.
Old Ottoman splendor out the window upstairs at Schlotzski’s Deli, Taksim—— Built by Greeks in the twilight of the Ottoman Empire, both this building, the Misir, & the deli building are still there, but the deli itself is long gone. This stuff is hell to draw.
ŞAHIN PAKSOY &FRIENDS
[Atelier office address & hours] — Şahin Paksoy & his favorite painting — His beautiful sister — Nazila — Mehmet — Atilgan — Doğan Paksoy —— Drawn at dinner. A jocular group of artists and friends at the next table. They were encouraging, the food was great, it was a good night.
THREE FACES IN TAKSIM
Hanifi, here, probably came up at dinner and asked for a portrait. Great face, so I obliged.
This guy was gorgeous but his art contrived. There was one painting over in the corner showed promise, when he wasn’t trying to force a style. I hope he found his own.
If this is you, dear lady, please let me know!
TWO FRIENDS AND THE FERRY
I drew Mehmet and Güler at dinner at Mehmet’s restaurant in Teşvikiye during a conversation of epic proportions.
The view from Ustın’s, with a ship as big as an emerging African nation powering up the Bosphorus.
Out Ustın’s front windows to the elegant building across the street. Another world from Sultanahmet.
Walking to Sultanahmet through Maçka Park, I was jolted into reality with this furious graffiti and the face of an old acquaintance. This was during the nastiest part of Bush’s push into Iraq. The graffito is incoherent but unmistakably angry. Şeytan means Devil in Turkish.