-“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.


-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.

-Grand Bazaar March 2008-Mesut 1989-Trici Venola ©2008

The Grand Bazaar is an 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. 

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.

-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.

-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
-TriciVenola ©2008
-Fatih-Halit Necdet’s Barbershop in Büyük Han -TriciVenola ©2008

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.

-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.

©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. 

-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!!


 TriciVenola ©2008  

This keyhole-shaped portal rose straight out of the water. The Sea Gate of the great Byzantine Sea Palace, Boukoleon, 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.

May 2008-…Maya waking up in the garden at Kybele-TriciVenola ©2008

Maya’s Grandmother Susie and I watched her wake up.

Kybele-Maya sleeping in the garden May 2008-TriciVenola ©2008

…and we watched her sleep again.

-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.

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