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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Snake Churches, an Underground City and Star Wars

With the end of 2014 around the corner, its time to play catch up.  When I began this blog in 2011, I was an avid poster…but travels, moves and wandering got the best of me and about a year ago I fell behind.  Now, with the inspiration of the new year, new studio and much work to be made, I’m determined to become more grounded and settle back into my routines..

With this in mind, here are a few shots from the end of my residency in Cappadocia last fall.  I have now been to the heart of Anatolia so many times that it is becoming as familiar as Istanbul, and with each visit I discover more of the region’s less touristy routes.  In May of this year, I traveled with a friend along a winding road which passed through small villages, carved rock monasteries and ended in an open air museum which was promised  to leave us feeling as though we had walked through a landscape from Star Wars.  We followed a small map marked in pen, and stopped at all the locations suggested by our residency host.  As our rental car traveled along, we felt a bit like players in a video game as we checked off from our list of tasks for the journey; 1) have breakfast in Mustafapaşa 2) stop at the Keslik Monestary and inform the gateman that we were sent from special friends in order to get the 5 lira entry 3) have tea with the gateman after our tour of the Monastery 4) Stop in the “criminal” village of Mazi and find the only man in the village with access into the underground city….and the list went on.

By the time we reached the open air museum at Soğanlı, the last stop on our map, we had found hidden churches, secret wells, archaic doorways, hid out in our car during a wind storm and plunged deep into underground tunnels alone with a with a drunk tour guide who kept running away into the shadows only to jump out again and scare us.  We were covered in dust, exhausted, hungry, but knew somehow that our friendship would be something special after sharing this experience together.

After my residency period ended this fall, I was joined by my boyfriend, and we decided to do the same tour with 2 other artists from my program.  We stopped in all of the same places as I directed us along with the map I had used in May.  When we arrived in Mazi and found the underground city, I was surprised to see a few other tourists, and our guide (fully sober) dressed in an all white suit for the Bayram.  A number of new rooms in the city had been opened, and though the tour still involved climbing up narrow tunnels with only wooden blocks feebly nailed to the passage walls as steps..the experience had inevitably changed since my visit in the spring, and made me realize how quickly Cappadocia is changing through tourism.

At our last stop in Soğanlı, we explored the cave churches, climbed slippery stone steps and picked fresh apples as we walked along the paths between each sight.  During the trip in May, my friend and I had to find solace in our car as a dust storm forced us to miss out on most of Soğanlı’s churches.  But as we watched the dust swirl outside of our windows, I was filled with the joy of a newly formed friendship.  In early October, the calm weather allowed me to climb every step and peer into each crevice, and although the experience lacked the fresh excitement of that windy day in spring, I was discovering what I had not seen months before.  I was also accompanied by someone for whom I was realizing more love for everyday.

With each new experience, I find new love and appreciation for this life and the people I share it with.

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Meeting in Trabzon!

Let me start by saying Happy New Year!  2013 was fantastic…I spent 6 wonderful months in my home state of Wyoming, and 6 months traveling and making art in India and Turkey.  I couldn’t have asked for a better year; exciting, humbling, productive and prosperous…lets hope for the same on 2014!

Now lets see, where was I….Ah yes, heading North towards the Black Sea.  It was the end of June, and I had a 10 day period in between residencies.  So, my traveling companion, fellow artist and best friend Sarah met me in Trabzon for a Holiday.  Sarah and I have traveled through Turkey together twice before, but have never explored the Northern Coast.  So we set out for the unknown together, starting with one of the best Turkish breakfasts I’ve ever had!

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Kiliseler

Kilise means church in Turkish.  It was a new word in my vocabulary this summer in Kapadokaya, as the landscape is littered with churches and monasteries carved into its soft volcanic stone.  Some of these sanctuaries date from the earliest periods of Christianity, and many contain richly colorful frescos painted onto the stone walls and ceilings.

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In previous years, I visited the popular cave monestaries of Göreme and Ihlara Valley.  However, during my Babayan residency, I found myself hiking to more remote locations with local guides (and sometimes a donkey)…off the beaten path and away from Kapadokya’s ubiquitous crowds of tourists.

How wonderful it was to draw in such an an ancient structure; to feel to the dampness of the cave around me, to imagine who had once dwelled or worshiped within these walls,  who had painted these images, and who had later vandalized them.  I considered all of this as I was drawing, with no tour groups or clicking cameras to distract me.

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"Kilise" Ink on Paper, 2013

“Kilise” Ink on Paper, 2013

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”