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.
Drawn while I lived 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.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW
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.
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.
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. They’re all grown up now!
Both photos are by patron Donna Perkins.
SADI ASIA MINOR
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 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 in countless ways 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 should all have such friends.
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!