BIG MOMO & BELT
Muhammed Rahimoglu of Tribal Arts is Turkman from Afghanistan. He’s always looked to me exactly as Genghis Khan must have looked, judging from all the Khan’s portraits. Actually DNA testing in the area of the Mongol empire shows that about one in three people is a descendant of the Khan.
THE IKAT PRINCES
Emin and Nurettin create new production tribal art: Ikat and Suzanis, employing entire villages of women throughout Turkey. Ikat resembles tie-die, except that it is not printed but woven into the very fabric. A Suzani is a tablecloth-sized hand-embroidered piece, usually cotton but sometimes silk. They have an enormous showroom in the Grand Bazaar.
THREE ART ANGELS
Here they are, my three beautiful art students of 2011. Bright, curious and energetic, they give me great hope for Turkey. Istanbul Erkek, on the hill in Sultanahmet, is one of the top two state schools in Turkey. These girls beat out thousands to get in. Iklim heard me lecture on art at the school, called me up and got her friends to go in with her on one hour a week art lessons. My, we had fun. I drew this to commemorate our year together, and each got a print.
OUR CAFE THAT WAS
Corlulu Ali Pasha Tea Garden, on Divan Yolu up by the Grand Bazaar. Everybody goes there: soldiers on leave, waiters on break, salesmen, students, guys who make nargile pipes…
We were horrified when the owners of the cafes in this 500-year-old tea garden decided to renovate. They scraped off the birds’ nests and all the peeling paint and pulled down all the carpets and the charm and painted it new. But it now looks pretty much the way it did back in 2011.
REFIK HAVING A SMOKE
Ah, the black leather jacket, the face of an ancient culture, the exotic water pipe, the Aladdin lamps, the… iPhone. Yes, this says “Old City Istanbul.” I was smoking nargile in Corlulu Ali Pasha, up by the Grand Bazaar, with my friend Frank when this fine fellow plunked down across from us and lit up. Later I came back and drew the lamps above him. Refik , 20 years old from Diyarbakir, was a waiter in Sultanahmet. I later heard that he emigrated to the US.
MADE IN MALATYA CONSTRUCTION
Nuresmaniye Mosque is 18th century Baroque Ottoman.
Sofçu Han shows the lumpy brickwork of surviving Byzantine architecture appropriated by the Ottomans.
Murat’s cafe is tented for the winter in good old 20th century plastic and canvas.
MADE IN MALATYA RESTORATION
It seemed a shame to leave this fine drawing, which incorporates all aspects of istanbul, with ugly scaffolding on Nuresmaniye Mosque. So I came back a month later and drew the restoration on an overlay. Both versions exist in the sketchbook.