Prints!

I spent several months this fall in the print shop at Mimar Sinan, Istanbul’s fine arts university.  I first stepped into the school not having made a single etching, block print or aquatint for years, so I had to roll up my sleeves and start from scratch on this one.  Working in the Gravür Atölyesi, or print studio, reminded me of my print making class in college…except for this time I had to pay extra attention because all of the instructions were in Turkish.

The reason why I found myself with ink covered hands and working among Turkish fine arts students was to make work for an upcoming print exhibition.  Since I am a painter primarily I needed to spend a few months coming up with new work for this show.  After many weeks of drawing, etching, inking, pressing and learning many new Turkish words…I had made a series of 3 prints, all reflecting my current theme of interior and exterior spaces.

On the night of the opening, we crossed the Bosphorus to Kuzguncuk, on the Asian side of Istanbul to see my work hanging along with 24 other print artists.  The best part of this process for me is of course sharing my work, celebrating with friends and loved ones…and seeing that little red dot on the wall.

A very special thank you to Can Aytekin for the invitation to participate in this show, and for all of the help and patience.  Also to my friends and family, and to Ozgur for all of your love and support this fall.

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“Untitled” Etching and Aquatint on Paper, 2014

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“Pekmaz Yaparken” Dry Point Print on Paper, 2014

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“Interior/Exterior” Etching and Aquatint on Paper. Credit for the original photograph of this piece goes to Heather Freedman.

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New Year

I was lucky enough to fly back to the US this year for Christmas and New Years.  I have only missed 1 Christmas away from my family in Wyoming, and am realizing more each year how much of a priority it is for me to be home over the holidays.  As I seem to have a new family member every year, I don’t want to miss out on catching these days of seeing their constant growth, change and discovery.

My days at home are few and precious, and with seeing these amazing changes in my family, along with having visits with inspiring friends, I can’t help but make a list of resolutions for 2015.

The other night I had dinner with my dear friends, and fellow artists Eric and Maria Wimmer.  Maria, who is a prolific blogger, recently posted her list of new years resolutions, which you can read here.  It seems only fitting that since I talked with Maria and Eric late into the night about new projects, upcoming shows and promises for the new year, that I should do the same.

That being said, here is my list for 2015:

1) Keep in touch.  With the loss of internet in my studio last fall, I fell into a silence.  Yes, I was also doing my best of staying in the present moment, but I realize how important keeping in touch is for my friends and family living far away.  So I promise to keep up on emailing as well as blog posting.

2) Complete all my projects.  Especially collaborations with friends, and push them as far as they can go.  This includes a collaborative sketchbook project, a series of articles on Istanbul Hans, a published book of travel sketches and 3 solo shows!

3) Keep up with my Turkish.  Its easy to get lazy about this one.  Even though I am living in Turkey, I am often surrounded by English speaking friends and too often succumb to the comfort of my native tongue.  This year I will continue with my private lessons, try out duolingo.com, which just added Turkish, perhaps take a month long intensive course, and just speak more often.

4) Continue with my consistent art making process, push forward with more discipline and diligence, even in those times when it is difficult to make anything.

5) Don’t loose the dedication to my yoga practice, keep connecting to that inner child and have the natural confidence that comes with letting go of our expectations from the world…just like Captain America here.

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Sarah in Babayan

Due to some visa confussion, Sarah and I had to reroute our journey back down South to Ankara.  I was leaving for India in less than a week and the Embassy still had my passport!  I could go into this stressful side story that involves leaving Sarah at the bus station, jumping into a cab and speeding to the Indian Embassy minutes before it closes, dodging cars as I make my way to the embassy across the street while my taxi driver somehow convinces them to let me in after business hours…..and after all of that, I did make it back in time to catch the bus, but my passport and visa had to be sent to me later on.

This was all a major inconvenience.  However, because we were so close to Kapadokya, I ended up taking Sarah back to Babayan where we spent 2 blissful days.  We loved our time on the Black Sea, but felt as though something was missing.  We had fallen in love with the unrivaled hospitality of central Turkey on previous adventures, and though it had been fascinating to visit a new part of the country, we missed the warm heartedness of Anatolia.  In Ibrahimpaşa, we were reminded of why we return to this country again and again.

We spent our short time in the village visiting friends I had made during my residency, getting invited into homes for tea and sweets, taking walks with the resident donkey, sketching as the sun went down, having dinner with artists, and attending an open studio at BCH.  Time went so fast and before I knew it, we had to be on our way to Istanbul.  Though it was short, I was so grateful to share this special place with my dear dear friend from home…and nothing can replace it.

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Sarah sketching in the village at night

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A page from my sketchbook, Ibrampasa as the sun goes down.

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The Show: Part 2

My last night in Ibrahimpaşa was concluded with an open studio.  After spending most of the day cleaning and packing, my drawings were displayed and I laid out plenty of cookies and juice for my guests.  The show in Goreme had been successful and enjoyable, but I was looking forward to sharing my project with the town that had been my home for 6 weeks, and had given me so much inspiration.

At 4pm, I welcomed the women to my cave studio.  Ibrahimpaşa is a gender segregated community, and in order to respect this way of living, separate times were arranged for men and women to visit the space.  The girls arrived in one large group.  I had spent a lot of time in their homes, helping with food or drawing their portraits, and I was so happy to welcome them into my space and show how grateful I was to know them.  The room was filled with laughter and a sweet, gentle air as we passed drawings around and skyped with my parents in Wyoming (who wanted to see the show and meet my new friends.)  I kissed all the girls as they left, promising that they would be dearly missed.

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I called my family again on skype so that they could meet the men of the town.  My dad compared notes about gardening with the locals as I translated in Turkish, and I suddenly realized how surreal and wonderful the moment was.

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The open studio lingered on for several more hours while we drank çay, ate sweets and haggled about the price of drawings.  I wasn’t expecting to sell much of my work, as I had only sold one piece from the show in Goreme and I was happy just to display and talk about the drawings.  However, to my surprise, there were a few interested buyers.  Turkish culture is well known for haggling about the price of anything, pazarlik as they call it.  So, I found myself bargaining on the price of my drawings in a foreign language as eager eyes shot between myself and the buyer.  When at last the prices were settled, drawings were signed, hands were shook and a few small pieces given away as gifts.  I have found myself bargaining on many occasions in Turkey, but this was the first time I was on the side of selling.  At the end of the night I had pulled down 7 drawings from the wall, sad to see them go, but happy they would be staying in Kapadokya.

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By 9pm I realized that I hadn’t eaten dinner.  So, after the crowd departed, I headed to Kuş Mehmet’s shop for one last tost, sitting in the back as I always did, eating while drawing my last village portrait.

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The Show: Part 1

In June, I made the first update on my blog in some time.  I had been keeping quiet for a few months while I basked in village life and worked on my residency project.  However, I connected to the blogging world once again to make an announcement about the concluding exhibition from my time at Babayan Culture House.

The show was set up in Göreme, a neighboring village of Ibrahimpaşa.  With help, I hung the 45 drawings and 3 paintings I had made over my 6 week residency period.  The venue was perfect:  a vaulted cave room at ‘Seten’ Cappadocia Cultural Center.

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I had spent the previous days handing out fliers, and spreading the word of my small exhibition to travel agencies, hotels, tourists and friends.  It is so nerve wracking to have a show of any kind anywhere…at least it is for me, and I was hoping to have at least a little bit of a crowd.  As it turns out, word of mouth pays off, and I was delighted to see a steady flow of people all night.

I talked with friends, discussed my project with foreigners and locals, and had the chance to speak with a few tourists from Istanbul and Ankara about the turmoil that had erupted in Turkey over the summer.  It was refreshing to hear accounts from people living in the heart of such a revolutionary moment, as I had been living in the peaceful eye of a hurricane for weeks.  “We are here, but our hearts are in Istanbul,” one woman said to me as we talked about the unrest emerging from the Gezi Park protests.  I was honored that they stepped into the show, shared their thoughts with me, and took the time to view my work.  I was also honored to have so many Ibrahimpaşa locals make a trip out of the village, to see the project they had so much influence in.  Of course, they came with a yogurt carton filled with freshly stuffed grape leaves (my favorite) and a box of cherry juice…it is not the custom to show up empty handed to anything.

Around 11pm, the room cleared out, and we were left to enjoy a glass of wine in the cool Cappadocian night.  I was filled with bliss and satisfaction.  How wonderful it is to see the conclusion of a project, and at the same time, how difficult to let it go.

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Türkiye’ye Gidiyorum!

Actually…I have already came and gone, but decided to disconnect from my life on the Internet for the most part of the trip.  So, get ready….the following weeks with be filled with posts of my reunion with the country that I love.  I left Istanbul over a year ago, and became fully intoxicated with the comforts of home.  But after sometime, I longed for my home away from home.  So when an acceptance letter came from Babayan Culture House, an artist in residency program in rural Kapadokya, my heart leapt and I packed my bags.

Here is the beginning of my journey, an eight hour layover in Moscow.  In someways I don’t mind layovers, I can sketch, blog, have some coffee and a sandwich while I anticipate the following day and daydream about where I will be.  It rained all day, but I was warm while I gazed outside and sketched the airplanes, deliriously tired, but happy.

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Starting from the End

For the past month, I have disconnected myself from my blog and regular email correspondence.  The reason being, I have been immersing myself in my first artist in residence experience.  For the past 6 weeks, I have been plein air drawing in the heart of Anatolia at The Babayan Culture House.  My time away from web, and effort to simplify my life while I settle back into Turkish culture has been important to me, but I feel ready to slowly unfold the adventure.  So here is my first post; an announcement of my culminating exhibition from the residency, and first time showing my work outside of the United States.  In the coming weeks, I will be sharing the stories of my journey back to Turkey, and effort to connect with a rural village through my artwork.  But for now…a simple announcement of the show, and a few examples of the works to be exhibited.  If you happen to find yourself in Kapadokya this month, please feel free to join me!

Bizim Köy / Our Village

 Paintings and Drawings by Gabrielle Reeves

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“Street Scene” Oil on Panel, 7″x5″

Displayed at ‘Seten’ Cappadocia Cultural Center in Göreme.

 Welcome on: Friday, June 14th, 8pm, 2013.

http://www.setenrestaurant.com

Location: Aydinli Mah. Aydinli Sok. No:40, 50180, Göreme, Nevşehir / TURKEY

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“Kus Mehmet’s Shop” Mixed Media on Paper

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“From the Valley” Mixed Media on Paper

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“Neighborhood Scene” Mixed Media on Paper

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“Eski Camii” Mixed Media on Paper

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“Interior/Exterior” Mixed Media on Paper

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“Ibrahimpasa at Night 1” Mixed Media on Paper