Visitors

Last week I had some visitors come from my hometown in Wyoming.  The night before they arrived I was so excited I could barely sleep.  Its not very often that I get guests from Wyoming, as Istanbul is so far away and not yet on the traveling radar for many people.  However, Casper College organizes a yearly trip lead by my dear friend and former professor, and this year the peak interest with everyone was Turkey.

Ever since I moved away from Wyoming, and especially since I have been in Turkey, I have felt overwhelming support from the Casper community.  Though I am far away, I am constantly offered shows and opportunities where I grew up, and it keeps me coming back several times a year.  I am always happy to visit my home town, but last week I got to share my new home with a group of very special people…and I think we will all remember it for years to come.

After 6 days of exploring exquisite mosques, byzantine wonders, busy bazaars, taking a trip to Asia for dinner, having an amazing yoga class lead by Ozgur, dancing to gypsy music in Beyoğlu, and taking a peek into the Istanbul art scene…we were ready to collapse by the weekend, though still full of joy and excitement.  The greatest pleasure for me was especially seeing how this city, which has been so immensely transformative for me, has an impact on each traveler in a different way.

A big thank you to Casper College and Valerie Maiers for allowing me to lead your group through Istanbul, introduce you to my favorite place and favorite people, and for the opportunity to teach my first Istanbul plain air workshops.  Thank you to everyone who joined the trip, for your patience and kindness, and your willingness to trust me.  Thank you to little 1 year old Ari for being so sweet and attracting the love and attention of everyone, including strangers on the street.  I hope to see you all this summer!

Love,

Gabby

A few of us on my favorite rooftop

A few of us on my favorite rooftop

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Istanbul Yogis after Ozgur’s class

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Valerie and I in the Harem at Topkapi Palace

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Watercolor workshop outside of Chora Church

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A beautiful morning in Topkapi Palace

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A watercolor study by Holly Turner

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Our last dinner together

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Eski Cami

I spent 2 days drawing in the Eski Cami, as I called it.  An archaic mosque tucked away in Ibrahimpaşa, and hidden behind a locked door.  No one seemed to know or agree on how old the mosque is, whether it had always been a mosque, and why it is no longer in use, but it is evident when stepping into the place that it carries a great deal of history.  I was compelled by the striking colors of the mihrab and minbar, making great contrast against the whitewashed stone walls.

Working in this still, serene and beautiful space gave me a feeling of incredible clarity.  Drawing, for me, is the best form of meditation.  I feel completely present, aware…my cares of the past and future dissolve into the air.

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“Eski Cami” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

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Rüya

Istanbul, September 2011: I visited an antique book market several times during those sweltering Fall days.  It was a temporary market, set up beneath white tents in a parking lot next to the Pera Müzesi.  A great place to rummage through lose papers, beautiful old Quarans and books illustrating the art of carpet weaving.  I would dig for an hour or so before relaxing  in a plastic chair to have a hot çay, and gaze out over the sprawling city.

I had collected several sheets of lose paper with arabic writing, and a few worn out journals bound together with cardboard covers before finding a magazine dated from the 1920’s.  The cover illustration reminded me of a dream, and I felt compelled by the simple quality of its line and color.  I purchased the piece, having been so transfixed by this image, and after many months of handing he magazine, flipping through its pages and admiring the delicate writing and eloquently drawn cartoons, it struck me to recreate a version of the cover image for my Hüzün Exhibition.

This dream-like image seemed to fit perfectly into my concept, as it reminded me of that surreal Istanbul feeling I was trying so desperately to capture.  The tittle came to me before I began, Rüya….Dream.  Below is the original drawing by the unknown artist, and the evolution of my version.

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"Ruya" Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

“Ruya” Mixed Media on Paper, 2013

 

Little Paintings

I made these little panels when I lived in Istanbul.  My intention was to paint as many  tiny images as I could and someday hang them in an exhibition.  However, I was spending so much time out in the city drawing from life that I almost completely neglected my studio work, and the only oil painting I completed was the “White Pigeon”. So I took back the the US this single oil painting, a few blank and half worked panels, and many travel drawings and sketch books.

When I began working in my studio again, I decided to complete some of the little panels, and worked on them occasionally in between my larger works.  They were intimate and satisfying to focus on.  So different from the larger and somewhat intimidating pieces.  I completed 6 for the Hüzün exhibition, and when I stood back to look at them hanging on the gallery wall, I realized that they looked like little icons, which linked them back to my influence and interest in early Christian art.  This gave them more significance than I had planned, and I was pleased to see other people drawn to them as well.

Since the show I have made 30 more small panels. They are of varying sizes, but do not exceed 7″ in either direction.  I intend to take some of them on upcoming travels, and leave some in my studio for future response works.  Someday, if I can pull myself away from my travel drawings and larger paintings long enough, I will fill a gallery with hundreds of these delicate little paintings, as was the original plan……..

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“White Pigeon” Oil on Panel 5″x7″

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“Bitmiş” Oil on Panel 5″x5″

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“Self Portrait with Language” Oil and Found Paper on Panel 7″x5″

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“Lessons 4″ Oil on Panel 7″x5”

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“Fortune 1″ Oil and Turkish Coffee on Panel 5″x5”

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“Fortune 2″ Oil and Turkish Coffee on Panel 5″x5”

 

The Exhibition

Almost two years of work, many long studio nights, and a few tears resulted in my first solo exhibition at the Corridor Gallery.  It is was an incredible feeling to see everything from my sketchbook pages to my large studio paintings occupying one space and cumulating in a statement about my life in Istanbul.  I’m happy for the opportunity to share this part of my life with the world, in the way that I know best.  Thank you friends and family for the support and encouragement!  You can read a review of the show, as well as a few controversial comments (but what’s art without a little controversy) here, please enjoy!

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Portraits

A few portraits from my exhibition, that to me capture the very essence of my concept, the complexity of Hüzün.

A street vendor, selling roasted chestnuts on the streets of Beyoğlu, shielding his cart from the pelting rain, and a the Han worker, pausing in the doorway of his workshop, with soot blackened hands and clothing……..

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“Beyoğlu” Oil on Panel, 45″x30″

"The Han Worker" Oil on Panel, 32"x24"

“The Han Worker” Oil on Panel, 32″x24″