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Trici Venola – Book 15 AMAZING FACE – April-May 2004 – Is it a skull? No, it’s what’s left of a Byzantine eagle on the top of a riven porphyry column at Hagia Sophia’s Imperial Gate, fenced off for forty years. Istanbul showed a different face once I moved here. I had to see it as amazing. Leaving LA had been traumatic. Had PTSD and didn’t realize it. With no money and no language, I made some very bad decisions…The only way out was through. I drew my way through it.


Slow Pan is a film term. You drag the camera slowly all along the view you want to show. I sat at a kebap joint across the street for hours and hours to draw this, my home when I first moved to Istanbul, owned by Mike, Alp and Hasan Akbayrak. Kybele has different owners now, but the Yörük Collection is still theirs and still there, and both are run by the original staff. The grilled windows below look into a very old open-air cemetery.


Hüseyin Bican (Artist) keeps the 2500 lamps at Kybele glowing as much as his face does on this brilliant morning in April 2004——-Huseyin was 19 and crawled with agility through the network of wires between Kybele’s floors. HIs mother also worked at the hotel. I hope he’s got his own business now.


Marea at Kybele ın the “kiddie chair” – Susie Oh La La!——Marea was a much-loved frequent visitor from Australia, and Susie is married to Mike.


Mike – Susie – Yonca——Upstairs in the Museum under the biggest tribal tassel collection anyone had ever seen.


Open all night, the only place in town you can get a steaming hot baked potato at 4 AM – BARAN BUFE – A rainy freezing bleak afternoon – I had in mind some hard characters contrasted with the eternal Blue Mosque just outside…but the hard characters turned out to know me, and they all came over closer and turned all human on me… sigh… delighted to have their pictures drawn… Somebody called Hasan & he came right over. One of the first people I ever drew, with his then girlfriend Jill. “I’m having my life,” she said. Now I’m having mine. 27 April 2004


Sultanahmet – From passersby I heard that this ruin is, variously, 1000 years old, an Ottoman mansion, a soup kitchen, a blacksmith shop & a hamam. Probably ALL true! —-My ears feel like they’re bleeding – Car horns like spears in my ears & choking exhaust fumes make this the most painful drawing experience to date, offset by hordes of nice people oohing and ahhing in Turkish – Hope I’m not deaf—— I looked up at one point and there were about 25 people standing behind me, completely absorbed. Later, one who spoke English told me that the guy in front of him said, “You see that weed up on top? Watch, she will draw that weed exactly as it is.” I was working in front of a building which housed many government agencies, and they’d come out to watch. Later this magnificent ruin, which had degenerated into a haven for addicts and hustlers, was renovated into the Hasan Paşa Medrese. Here’s the new improved version. I’m no longer compelled to draw it.


Yusuf King of Antiques from Beyşehir—-An antique dealer doing business with someone at Kybele, he’d driven all the way the hell across Turkey and was relaxing in the lobby when I caught him, never saw him again.


Celal could have made a living playing gangster thugs, but he was a sweetheart, responsible and temperate. He wound up buying his own flat. “One place I’ve got, nobody can make me move,” he said. I hope he’s there still.

Mike all in after a late night with tourists


Another respected Kybele staff member. Drawing everyone made them very happy!


Works with Ayşa keeping Kybele immaculateShe is Huseyin’s mother as well—–but I titled this because of her eyes.


Holding very still… Nobody had ever drawn him before.

Cafe on the Sphendone before remodeling. You could sit in an alcove in the 2ndCentury wall.


Hasan “Storm” – Hasan would talk your ear off. He was a waiter at Kybele Hotel with a very big brain. “See that boy,” said Kybele owner Alpaslan to a guest, “That boy is a tragedy. So smart, and there’s nothing for him here.” The guest, a retired doctor from Arizona, sponsored Hasan into America where he got into a good university. Hasan worked at Apple awhile and then went into another successful Silicon Valley company. Years after this drawing I saw him on the street: solid, successful, married, visiting his old hotel cohorts. About Silicon Valley he said, “The hardest thing is that everyone’s as smart as I am.”

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