Across the Border, Finally. (Georgia Road Trip, Part 6)

Across the Border, Finally. (Georgia Road Trip, Part 6)

A horizontal line drawn from a point midway along a moon-shaped cove on the eastern end of the Black Sea represents the end of the Republic of Turkey and the beginning of the Republic of Georgia. To the north of the line, sunbathers are sprawled on the sand. To the south of the line, the beach is empty. Instead, there’s a crowd of people milling about in front of, next to and behind a line of vehicles – semi-trucks and tour busses, mainly – all with their motors turned off. Every 10 to 15 minutes, keys are turned in ignitions, motors rumble, and drivers move their vehicles forward a few meters. The process is repeated, again. And again. And again.

Picture 27 Sarp: The Bordergeorgia-border

On the occasion that we were participating in this exasperating bit of car choreography, the performance lasted about 8 hours!

Not that this is a border-crossing you’ll be breezing through on a normal day (the driver of the tour bus behind us said a couple of hours’ wait was normal); however, the Andy Warhol-John Cage proportions of this production can be attributed – as so many other things in Turkey are being attributed these days – to the ‘July 15 coup attempt’ – after which various and sundry perpetrators were found to have made their escape through – ta-daaa – this very same escape hatch.

If you’ve been paying attention, the ‘previous episode’ of this tale left off somewhere around Çorum, which is nowhere near the Georgian border. Thus, in the effort to speed up this virtual-border crossing (Would that I could have sped up the real-time event!), I’ll just present you with some higlights, in bullet-points, with a focus on highways, in case you ever find yourself in a car travelling along the Black-Sea coast of Turkey towards the Georgian border:

  • The highway from Central Anatolia (Çorum) to the Black Sea (Samsun) gets you there much quicker than you’d think.

  • Samsun has a confusing highway system, but once you find the shore (and a parking space nearby), it’s just as pleasant as walking along the Izmir Kordon, albeit (believe it or not) a little more humid.

  • The highway between Samsun and Ordu is one giant speed trap.

  • The sea looks lovely from the highway, but getting to it is nigh impossible, especially since heading east, by the time you spy a bit of sand or rock that makes you want to say ‘that looks like a nice place to stop’, you’re way past any exit (if there was one in the first place).

  • One of the easiest places to ‘get off the highway’ is Ünye. We got off the highway to go to the Social Security Office and get a print-out to show to the border guards (‘extraordinary times’, we are in) so that we could exit the country. While it turns out no one at the border showed any particular interest in these particular papers, it was worth stopping, as we chanced on a melon that was truly delicious.

Picture 28: Unye: The Melonunye-melon-3132

  • For a prettier (way prettier) drive, get off the new highway and onto the old highway that hugs the coast between Perşembe and Ordu.

  • There are some lovely places by the seaside east of Ordu all the way up to Georgia that cannot be seen from the highway. If you are not in a hurry, it might behoove you to pick an exit – any exit – and get off and back on the road again, heading west. Drive slowly in the right lane until something ineresting pops up.

  • Something interesting will pop up if you get off the highway around Limanköy, after Rize and before Artvin. (You will hear more about Limanköy on the return trip.)

Now, I have to admit, despite the fact that Harun and I had been romanticizing our ‘Trip to Georgia’ for around a year, sadly,  the banality of the new highway and the wait at Sarp/i made the actual ‘Crossing of the Border’ seem more like a denouement when it should have been a climax. Because everyone other than the chaufeur needs to get out and walk across, the pedestrian line is a lot longer than the line for cars, and since it’s my name on the registration of our Toyota (which is now even more well-travelled than our erstwhile Twingo), it was Harun who had to do the walking. This meant that 30% of my border-waiting was actually done on the other side.

I’d love to share with you my pictures of the lovely Orthodox church at Sarp, of the architecturally unique Georgian border installation (someone’s idea of an airborne submarine?), or even of the signs posting the exchange rates given by the shops servicing all those who wait (showing a correlation between the number of meters walked and the number of lari pocketed), but in fact – I have none. (Note to self: Possible title for next novel: ‘Dead Batteries’.)  Instead, you will have to make do with a few snaps of the lovely architecture of Batumi and some classic Black Sea Fog.

Picture 29: Batumi (1)batumi-arch-deco-2-3200

Picture 30: Batumi (2)batumi-arch-deco-3201

Picture 31: A Little Black Sea Foggeorgia-very-green-1-3155

And as an end note, I’d like to offer a little explanation as to what this attenuated ode-to-a-road-trip is doing in a blog ostensibly devoted to ‘process/progress’ (at least that’s what it says on the tab):

It’s that art/life, thing, ya know?
I mean, we can’t be in the studio all the time, now, can we?
Every once in a while we gotta get out there and take the pulse, see?

So, the road to Georgia – and back – was like holding a big long index finger tight over the national wrist-vein. It’s been a while processing the data, but things are not looking good.

 

 

Centering (Georgia Road Trip, Part 5)

Centering (Georgia Road Trip, Part 5)

Central Anatolia! One of my favorite places in the world, with fairy chimneys, underground discos, no, wait, forget the disco (been there, done that)…

HacıAli likes to tell the story of how one day, driven into a stark-raving frenzy by my disco-neighbors, I smashed all the pots in front of his shop. (About an hour later when I came to, I went back and rather sheepishly said I was ‘done shopping’, and could he please ring up my total. His response: “Let me show you where the expensive stuff is, for next time.”)

Picture 20 Chez Grandpa Ali avanos-haci-ali

Now that I no longer own a house over a disco, I have a standing offer from HacıAli to stay in his old house above the shop, since it (the house, not the shop) is usually empty. Considering that it’s more than 10 hours on the road from Bodrum to Avanos, we don’t get up there much, but Harun and I took HacıAli up on his offer on our way up to Georgia. It got us out of the Aegean and on our way towards the Black Sea – with planned stops at ‘The Hittite Sites of Central Anatolia’. At just about the half-way point between Konya and Çorum, not only was Avanos conveniently located geographically, an overnight stop there also gave us the opportunity to ‘feel the pulse of the nation’ in the wake of Turkey’s ostensibly ‘unsucessful coup attempt’.

I know, I know: post-failed-coup Emergency Rule is not the best situation to be taking a road trip in, but we’d planned it in advance (the road trip, not the coup, obviously!), and I was going to have to be back in the Aegean in September, because I was going to be teaching part-time at a university close to where we were moving; in fact, I was supposed to be planning my classes during our road trip, leisurely dreaming up dialogs on architecture and sustainability while driving a fuel-burning vehicle thousands of kilometers for my personal enjoyment…

But alas, it was not to be.

As soon as we sat down in front of HacıAli’s – where we happily sat for hours, drinking Turkish tea and ‘taking the pulse’ – I received a text-message from a friend containing a PDF file with a list of all the educational institutions being closed because they ‘had ties’ to the ‘coup plotters’.

And thus, as Harun likes to say, “I was fired before I even started”.

Now, I can pretty much vouch for everyone in the department I was going to be teaching at and say that none of them ‘had ties’. And it was this apparent indiscriminateness of what some might call the ‘post-coup efforts to right the country’ that made it so difficult to ‘take the pulse’ as we wanted. Harun and I were pretty much the only people we found who didn’t first lower their voice and look around (and in one case, put away a cell phone ‘because it could listen’) before venturing an opinion on the only thing that was on anybody’s mind anywhere between Bodrum and the Georgian border (which was where we were headed, remember? Don’t worry, we’ll get there…).

In the interests of protecting the privacy of the possibly (but not necessarily) paranoid, I will just randomly intersperse some comments along with some photos. Just chalk everything up to ‘Anonymous’.

Picture 22 Zelve zelve-peaking-through-the-cave

Not a Hittite site, but a network of cave dwellings just a few kilometers from Avanos. (Full disclosure: we did not get to Zelve until our way back from Georgia; it was hot, and we had tea to drink and pulses to feel.)

(Pulse: “Just like at Çanakkale, the brave Turks took to the streets to defeat the enemy and preserve democracy… What are you looking at on that computer? Are you nuts? Delete! Delete!)

Picture 23 Hattusas: Cowshittite-cows-3113

Hattusas is even more like an open-air museum than the open-air museum in Cappadocia famous for its cave paintings, since here in Hattusas you drive from ‘exhibit’ to ‘exhibit’ (or walk, if you are in good shape and prefer not to burn fossil fuel). No cave paintings here, but lots of interesting stuff, like the layout of ancient Hittite dwellings, and cows. Whether or not these cows were descendants of ancient Hittite cows, I cannot say; however, cows did figure prominently in our journey from Hattusas onwards.

 (Pulse: “Who am I to say anything? I’ve got no one with any power backing me up. No one in the position to say something is saying anything. If no one’s got your back, saying something would just be the epitomy of stupidity.”)

Picture 24 Hattusas: Lionshittite-lions-3100

 Yup, me, there on the right. To give you an idea of scale. Lion on the right is original, lion on the left is to show what the lion on the right used to look like once upon a time.

(Pulse: “This was planned. It’s the continuation of reforming the military, removing those who are still in the way of what Turkey and the US want to do in Syria.” **)

** Note: Less than 2 weeks later, Turkey invaded Syria…

Picture 25 Hattusas: the Tunnelhittite-tunnel-3104

 Yup, this time it’s Harun on the right for scale. Very cool tunnel. In every sensed of the word. Outside the tunnel it was 35 degrees (95 in farenheit). I quite enjoyed the tunnel… I could just about imagine a procession passing through here…  By the way, the brochures you get at Hattusas show some really cool reliefs, which you can see at Yazılıkaya (“Stone with Writing”), just up the road from Hattusas. But for the really, really cool stuff, you need to go to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, which is filled with things dug up from  various Hittite sites all over Central Anatolia, and lots more.)

(Pulse: “The end of the US Empire is at hand; that is only natural, all empires come to an end. Power is shifting to Central Asia… Anyone who is innocent will be released from detention.”) 

Picture 26 Alacahöyük: End of an Empire (Hittites )Image result

Of course, seeing the artefacts in a museum in Ankara isn’t quite the same as seeing them “in situ”. Alacahöyük (a “höyük” is a “mound”, as in “burial mound”) is done up rather nicely; you can walk around the site and peek in the graves (note the crown on this guy here) before you go into the museum building. There are no grazing cows here, but if you’re lucky, you may run into the local geese herder marching his flock home in the evening. Also, there is a lovely cafe across the road, run by a woman from Erzurum who makes delicious gözleme and who will engage you (or your Turkish-speaking companion) in long discussions about local politics and rail against all things in general.

(Pulse: “Foiled coup? Foiled? Oh no, not at all, it was very successful…”) 

For everything you ever wanted to know about the Hittites and even more, check out this amazing web site. And just hang in there, we really are going to Georgia. I think we might even get there in the next installment…

My Holiday Presents to You

As the media reports on Black Friday pointed out so emphatically, the holiday season is upon us. Need I list them all? I don’t think so…

If you’re among the anxiety-prone and you’ve already begun fretting over the proper response to ‘Merry Christmas’ (as I get wished in Turkey) if you aren’t Christian (I’m not), or ‘Happy Winter Solstice’ (as I get wished in Facebookland) if you aren’t Pagan (I’m not…sure…), then take heart in the advice I read the other day:

Don’t worry about making any ‘corrections’, and certainly don’t get into a politically incorrect huff, just say,’Same to you.’

So, to warm you up with some holiday cheer – especially those of you who have already gotten out your winter woolies – here are a few modest little watercolors that I did on the way to and from Adana in September-October before Harun and I left for New York…

and have a very happy and merry Same to You.

 

 

Datça-İncekum 2Datça

 

Datça-İncekum 3Datça

 

Datça-İncekum 4
Datça

 

Outside Göcek 1Outside Göcek

 

Outside Fethiye 2Outside Fethiye

 

Outside Fethiye 4
Outside Fethiye

 
Outside Fethiye 5
Outside Fethiye

 

Outside Fethiye 6
Outside Fethiye

 

Outside Fethiye 7Outside Fethiye

 

 

Outside Fethiye 8Outside Fethiye

 

Outside Fethiye 10Outside Fethiye

 

Wisteria Books

So, I made these books last month, see?

little wc books 3 blittle wc books 3 f

Back when the wisteria was in full bloom here in Bodrum.

Here we call it “Mor Salkım” – in other words, “Hanging Purple”.

Boy, it was just hanging all over – I even followed Fadime’s advice and made some Wisteria Jam –

believe it, or not.

little wc books 4 flittle wc books 4 b

I just collected a bunch from my friend’s wisteria vine – which I sat in front of all day drawing,

back on one of the first nice days of spring/summer.

And I had such a good time making these little notebooks (fronts, backs, and in-betweens),
I thought I’d make some more.

So I went down to the seaside to draw.

little wc books 1 f little wc books 2 b little wc books 2 f

That was back just before ‘the season’ started.

That is the most deceptive time of year.
So many of us out there, artists, trying to figure out ‘what to make to sell to the tourists.’Frankly, I make some pretty nice stuff. But as any successful salesperson will tell you,
‘A good product is not enough.’

And as I could tell you, (and often have, probably), I lack the ‘salesman gene’. (I mean, check out
my Etsy Shop; no, wait: I haven’t gotten around to maintaining that since… wait, I’m thinking, since…)

Well, I guess I was just having such a good time making these little books, and I thought they were

SO NICE,

that I just ‘plum forgot’ that I’d likely never be able to sell them – or at least not at a price that
would make it worth my while to sit down and make ’em as ‘business’. Fun is fun, and making a dozen or so
little notebooks for no money is fun; but making like a hundred or so? No Fun.

So, now, I’ve got these little notebooks, see?

little digiprint notebooks 1

And I’ been thinkin’, I ain’t gonna make any more of them, see?

little digiprint notebooks 2

So – should I give them away as presents? (Could do…)
Or should they get themselves turned into an installation, somehow? (Could do…)

If I sent ya a notebook, would you write in it? (Maybe…)
Maybe even send it back to me so I could read it? (Maybe…)

Hmmm….

Number 10

It is the time of year where it is warmer outside the house than it is inside the house.

Still, it is not quite painting weather (the blessed shade is less blessed in April than in July), so instead of getting back to the Water Paintings (or following up on the urge to begin some Wisteria Paintings), I finished up another ‘Column Collage’.

Because the pieces are only 10 cm wide and about 70 cm long, with a lot of detail throughout, they don’t really lend themselves to being viewed on the computer. But I can show you the top, the middle, and the bottom separately…

The TOP:

Suburban Wilderness topWhat we’ve got here is: some sequins cut from an old exhibition poster, part of an oil pastel drawing of sky, some black paper I cut in fringes to match the fringes from a picture of a ‘puffy pillow’ from an old exhibition (Nu:Nar) and in between a watercolor drawing on very thick tracing paper, some more sequins, the edge of the ‘puffy pillow’ picture that shows the beaded seam on the edge over the gold leaf, a bird I cut from a business card (original bird was a painted piece of wood from another painting -the collage got an addition of a yellow breast), an ink-jet print of a photo from Avanos that I printed on Japanese rice paper (and glued down backwards), a bit of a garden watercolor, a bit of a watercolor and ink drawing of an old Chinese cauldron, and a bit more of a watercolor and ink landscape.

The MIDDLE: 

Suburban Wilderness middleAnd what you’ve got here is: more of that bit of watercolor and ink landscape, some photos of some very damaged pavement photocopied (the photos, not the pavement) on light blue paper, a little bit more garden landscape, a drawing based on another drawing of a Hittite clay object from the Museum of Anatolian Civilization in Ankara, a red flower from part of a design for a mosaic tabletop, some bits of an old drawing (red and gold leaf) and photocopies of old sliver leaf-coated drawing paper from another piece (from nearly 20 years ago!), a map of Long Beach (I had planned on using in a collage for the installation Homesickness, but never did, and the back of the poster that had the sequins on it.

The BOTTOM

Suburban Wilderness bottomAnd finally what we’ve got is: some more map, some more birds, some more poster-back, some more pavement, a bit of watercolor ‘gift-wrap-paper’, a pastel drawing of a bit of oleander, a photocopy of bugle-beads that were sewn onto an earlier painting (from 15 or so years ago!), and (‘a partridge in a pear tree’ – no, just kidding) a glimpse of the uncovered surface of the marble-patterned paper that everything else gets glued onto!

This post is titled Number 10 because this is the 10th of the ‘Column Collages’ I have been making using the paper leftover when I cut the paper for the Water Paintings. I titled this one ‘Suburban Wilderness’ – Suburban because Long Beach (and Bodrum) is suburban – otherwise it would have been titled Urban Wilderness – because ya gotcha animals, ya gotcha pavement cracks, etc.

Sometimes I wonder where the images come from – and sometimes people ask me what I was thinking about when I made something – and I think the answers to these questions are : ‘I got a lot of stuff hanging around’ (in other words, the images are all recycled from someplace else – so that I can save resources by using up all the paper I have collected over the years); and, ‘don’t know, whatever…’

Women in Art

The following  pictures are from the installation titled ‘2000 Women’ from 2000 that featured 2000 drawings of naked women. The drawings were all copies of about 7 classic nude images from artists ranging from Reubens to Degas.

After the exhibit, I thought that a better title might be ‘Backfired’.

2000 women installation shot
(unfortunately, best resolution I’ve got – sorry…)

That’s because the original intent of this piece – together with ‘Nü-Nar’ (‘Nude-Pomegranate’), another installation in the British Council’s gallery in Ankara – was to raise the issue of the commodification of women through art.

With 2000 women, I thought that the entire piece would turn into a giant abstract work that would in some sense supersede the individual drawings (200 per month over a 10-month period, 50/week, Mon-Friday, 10/day). In a sense it did, but in a sense, it did not. Horny men still expressed the most interest in the big-busted blondes, whereas they had less appreciation for well-drawn feet and faces.

I thought I would post these today, 4 days after a young woman in the southern Turkish city of Mersin was murdered by a would-be rapist.

The first photo below is another exhibition shot, but the next 2 are pictures of some tea trays I decorated using parts of some drawings that had been in the exhibition. Over the weekend, I had a box of about 200 of the drawings on sale at an open-air Bazaar in Turgutreis that hoped to breathe some life into the dead downtown of a tourist trap in winter and earn some money for some women trying to improve their economic circumstances.

Money – Sex – Violence – Power.

These are the things that ‘art’ messes with.

In the meantime, my husband and I happily celebrated Valentine’s Day with a dinner out on the town:
I’d rather celebrate love than excoriate hate.

Let’s see how to ‘tag’ this one, folks.

 

2000 women detayi fuzzy

 

Tray- Caryatids

tray - angel w winged bowl

 

 

More long, tall art

As is wont these days, I will begin with full disclosure:

These pieces are from last week.

Column Collage_Early Gardens         Column Collage Hittite Mommy

Since then, I’ve spent my time on

1. ‘engaging in paid work’ (boring);

2. developing a project (not boring, but definitely more left-brain than studio work);

3. visiting (sometimes I like to do that); and

4. (starting yesterday,) being cold.

But I must have hit a button on the computer that allowed Facebook to reassess its mystical algorithm, because I’ve had some people noticing the last couple of art-related posts, i.e., the top parts of these 2 pieces – ‘Early Gardens’ and ‘Hittite Mommy’ – both from my ‘Column Collage’ series.

Because they are so long, along with the full piece, I like to post the parts, so that you can see the details.

So, below, here are the top (again), middle and bottom of ‘Early Gardens’, followed by 5 segments (from very top to very bottom) of ‘Hittite Mommy’.

 

Column Collage_Early Gardens-Top

Column Collage_Early Gardens-Middle

Column Collage_Early Gardens-bottom

and…

Column Collage Hittite Mommy Top

Column Collage Hittite Mommy second from top

Column Collage Hittite Mommy Middle

Column Collage Hittite Mommy second from bottom

Column Collage Hittite Mommy Bottom

As always, feedback is welcome 🙂

 

A Little Lake

Just a few small watercolors from NY, trying to capture the changing of the leaves all around the edges of the lake.

Fahnestock 1

Next year, I will try not to break my ankle before the fall foliage season begins, and maybe we will have some more paintings.

 

Fahnestock 2

This year, it was abut all I could do to hobble down to the edge of a little lake in the woods at the southern tip of Fahnestock State Park in NY.

Fahnestock 3

The good news is that the cast came off today, and we are having a few days of ‘Pastrami Summer’ here in Turgutreis, so I’m hoping to be standing up a little bit to do some more work on ‘the water paintings.’

But mostly I suppose I ought to be getting ready for the ‘Homesickness’ exhibit I’m opening up on 18 November at the Şevket Sabancı Cultural Center in Turgutreis (Bodrum). For information on joining the International Mail Art Exhibit, and seeing some of the work that has arrived,

click here

but do it fast, because there’s not much time left. For information on my installation, stay tuned…

 

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Blue Cruise to Kissebuku

Tekne1

An extremely uncooperative internet connection has kept me from posting any photos anywhere for the past few days, which is why I am sitting at Kahve Dünyası now.

That, and their lattes.

I am ambivalent about Kahve Dünyası – and not just on the level of “poor service vs great coffee”, but on a more existential level of “corporate chain vs mom+pop”, “shameful elitism vs shameful populism”.

But I sit here at Coffee World in the Doğuş-Holding-owned marina AVM (because it is an AVM ‘shopping center’) basically because no one in Turgutreis has figured out that good coffee+free WiFi+a breeze=customers; either that,  or they just couldn’t care less.

 

Tekne2

So what does the tourist want? In any discussion of sustainable tourism, that question has to figure into the picture.
But it’s not the only question. Which means that even if “If You Build It, They Will Come” is true, it does not necessarily make building it a Good Idea.

In fact, at this point, in Bodrum, “building it” is no longer a good idea at all – if “it” is a hotel, dwelling or  commercial establishment. The fact is, we’ve got enough of them already.  Trust me – ask anyone, and they’ll all tell you the same – the exception being anyone in the construction industry, or any politician dependent upon the construction industry.

But don’t get me wrong. Just because I am against the idea of paving paradise to put up a parking lot does not mean I am against construction in Bodrum (or Turkey or anywhere) per se.

In fact, construction in Bodrum is necessary.
In fact, construction in Bodrum is very necessary.

For example,

Build me a sewage treatment plant in Turgutreis so that I can swim in the water somewhere reasonably close to where I live.

Build me a couple of schools, so that my neighbor’s kids can get a full-day education that might give them a chance of growing up to be something a little more emotionally and economically rewarding than a bus boy or a cleaning lady in a “7-star hotel”.

But please,

DON’T BUILD ME ANOTHER BIG HOTEL,

and certainly,

DON’T BUILD ME A BIG HOTEL IN KISSEBUKU,  ONE OF THE FEW UNSPOILT PLACES LEFT ON THE BODRUM PENINSULA.

Tekne3

P.S.

If you’re thinking of coming to Bodrum, think of a sailing trip in the Gulf of Gökova.
Think of staying someplace other than an all-inclusive hotel that doesn’t put anything back into my community.
Think of how what you’re doing affects all of us here, including the farmers that are trying to feed us, and the sea turtles that are still out there, somewhere,

and think of yourself, and how you will want it to be here when you come back again.

Mostly Paper

Today at the end of my ‘1-woman yoga class’, Tüğce (yoga teacher – so together we are a ‘2-woman class’) asked me where she could see some of my collages on-line – prompting me to get around to this post.

Rather than something new, the photos below are from an exhibit I organized a couple of years ago called “Vitrinler’de Sanat / Art Windows”. The idea was to put artworks in empty shops in Turgutreis – because at the time it seemed the empty shops outnumbered the full ones – which wasn’t doing much for morale, or for business.

The artwork ran the gamut from watercolor ‘scenes’ to a ‘dead fish installation’ by a ceramic artist… rather a nice variety, I might say. I had the window of a former greengrocers, so I decided to put in a basket of pomegranates.

Deborah 2a

(Recycled from a 2000 installation called “Nü-Nar (Nude Pomegranate) – but perfectly ‘suitable for audiences of all ages’ – with the ‘nü’s’ directed towards the inside of the shop.) Next to the basket was a “fruit pyramid”.

Deborah 1a

Another artist in the exhibit who works with paper is Uta Çiner.

Uta hanging

It’s kind of hard to see what she was doing in there – so here’s another shot, of ‘the work’:

Uta 1

And I guess it’s still kind of hard to see exactly what this is: a very large papier mache sculpture.

To really see what she does, here is a link to her website, http://kikkula.de/, which shows work by Uta and her husband Tuna. I just went to visit them at their shop in Gumuşluk yesterday, to pick Tuna’s brain on books – he makes BEAUTIFUL notepads using a lot of SE Asian papers – and I got some good advice re: The Little Book of Pavement

So, ideas from Tuna and a new ruler from Kadir, and we should be on our way…