Sunday, September 30, 2007

Teaching Loaded

Tomorrow I start a hellish month of teaching almost 30 hours per week (a normal teaching load is between 18 and 24 hours). I’m adding another school, and this includes two sections of a course I haven’t taught before. I know I’ll be OK, but right now with the prepping and grading I’m already behind on, I’m STRESSED! Plus my next show opens in five days. Send chocolate thoughts.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


So the thing to do here in SoCal is art festivals. Booths, open studios, art walks, bus tours, gallery hopping, music, kids crafts, food and wine, etc.—seems there’s a neighborhood festival every weekend. Some happen every month, some once a year. I don’t know how much art actually gets sold, and the quality is pretty ragged, but it’s fun and mostly free.
Aren’t we artists (and gallerists) just crazy? We spend time and money to make our work, then put it out there for you to enjoy/criticize/hate/ignore, and spend more on pr and wine, basically because we’re compelled to do it. We know we won’t sell much if anything.
This guy hangs his work in and on a really cool old trailer. The formica inside is to die for.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Five Reasons to Volunteer in your Kid’s (Grandkid’s/Nephew’s/Little Brother’s, etc.) Classroom

1. You can see what is really happening in the trenches everyday, whether you’re stapling worksheets, grading a math test, or helping students paint, write or read.
2. The teacher will see that you’re invested in your kid, and will treat him better.
3. The principal, staff, and other teachers will notice that you are there. You will become a valuable commodity.
4. You can see who your kid’s friends are.
5. And most importantly, your kid will be prouder than proud. It’s so worth it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Don’t Forget Me

I’m starting to get lovely little notes from Turks who are finally back from their summer holidays and starting school again. Don’t worry, my friends, I haven’t forgotten you! I miss you and think of you often. Even though I’m fully engulfed again by my life here, a part of me has remained in Anatolia, and I will search for a way to return to you.
With love,
Photo is of an Ottoman house in Bursa. Although this one looks like it will have to demolished, many of these houses get restored.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I bought the car. Went to the DMV, that great equalizer, to stand in line. Getting an appointment online wasn’t that practical, so I prepared myself with a book to wait for hours. But it wasn’t that bad. Working at the DMV must be a pretty interesting job, dealing with everyone from 16-year-olds getting their first license to 90-year-olds who shouldn’t be driving anymore. All employees speak Spanish, of course.
I really love my new, old car. It’s an adult car, faster than what I’ve had before. I was washing it yesterday and two people walked by to tell me it was already clean…Thanks, G.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Retail Field Tripping

My kids are now attending the neighborhood public school. Their first field trip of the year was to a Barnes and Nobel Bookstore. Yes, six classrooms at a time, invading a retail store and café, teachers wild-eyed with envelops of money, different amounts for each child. (Many kids didn’t have money to purchase any books.) This was a fundraiser for the school, but I can’t quite get over the fact that the children should have been going to the public library instead. I saw 9-year-old girls marching down the aisle drinking chilled coffee drinks that cost $4 each. The kid in front of mine at the checkout didn’t have enough money, so I helped her out, and got out of there fast. But I guess my own so enthusiastic about their “violent books” (kid.02) and their Captain Underpants and Dave Barry pirate novels (Kid.01) is worth it… I think.

Monday, September 24, 2007

New Projects

I’m painting, of course I’m painting, an intimate series that’s about half done now.
But I’m also thinking about a new art project, possibly video or performance based, created with my longtime art-making partner. She’s obsessed with food and sugar. I’m obsessed with the body. So we might make a work addressing how the body changes during our adult life. We gain weight, we lose it, we get pregnant, and then our bodies deflate. We puff our muscles up at the gym, we tan ourselves, we let ourselves go and get skin cancer. We begin to sag and stoop with age, our joints fail and we limp. We can’t get it up, we experience sexual renewal, we visit the plastic surgeon and pharmacist for a tune-up.
It’s constant physical change. And we thought once we grew up, that was it, we were Big, and then we’d get Old, and as Kid.01 put it, “phuft, it’s over.”

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Fridge is Organized, Dammit!

I am such a highly organized person that sometimes I add chaos to my life on purpose. I suppose most people who blog regularly are this way, it takes a certain anality to do this. I strive to put each thing and person in its place, everything clean and all the messiness hidden away. And then, I get bored. And then, sometimes, in trouble.
Worse is when I go in a space that belongs to a friend, and let’s say that person is a bit on the sloppy side with his or her environment. I want to help them fix it, not a good thing for a friendship… breeds dependence or resentment. I need to let dirt lie.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I grew up in a medium-sized working-class town in SoCal that didn’t, and still doesn’t, have the best reputation. It’s not all Beveryly Hills Pacific Palisades La Jolla here. I remember thinking when I was a kid that “we” were not allowed in the fancy places. But it was not a bad place to grow up.
Our house was on a dead end. To the west, a few miles away, was the Pacific. To the east, canyon, chapparel, mountains, and the desert. Up there was the endless Central Valley, down there was Baja. In between was the narrow strip of land that millions upon millions of people want to live on. In general the further east, and sometimes south, you went, the poorer the communities.
So imagine my shock the other day when I drove, in my little town, three freeways to the east, on a six-lane road where before was a dirt track. This road is tastefully landscaped, with light fixtures and intersections waiting for subdivisions to be built. Where do all these people come from who can afford $700,000 houses, big boxy things with no yards?
My destination was a new shopping center, in itself a weirdness. It’s not a mall, enclosed or open air. Rather, it’s a group of upscale chain retail outlets and eateries built on small roads, trying to imitate a main street, surrounded by oceans of parking.
As you can see from the photo, a rain storm was also coming, and that’s surprising for September in SoCal. The song is right, it hardly ever rains. Makes you want to live here too, right?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

If you can believe this, my urban college doesn’t have internet access for adjuncts. Nor does it have wireless in the library. I guess older profs and deans aren’t web-dependent yet, and don't push for web access at budget time, a crime because most classrooms are not wired either. Poor students, who don’t have computers at home, lose out.
The librarian directed me across the street to this little non-Starbie café, where the internet is free, the coffee great, and the music just what I like. But there is trouble in paradise: a worker told me the city is harassing them (umbrellas outside without a permit, etc.) so some chain can come in here to go along with the ritzy lofts and condos that have sprung up all around (condos no student could afford…). I swear, SoCal belongs only to the rich.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Starting Off the Second Year on a Happy Note

My cousin married a lovely woman who had a young son. This boy was interested in art and we encouraged him. His mom even brought him to one of my figure drawing classes at the tender age of 15, and if that’s not dedicated, I don’t know what is, for both mom and kid. So now he’s in his first semester of art school and sent the following letter to my gram. I’m sharing it with you to give you hope for the next generation.
Hello Grandma!
How is everything?
I am having an amazing time at college. My classes are really
stressful, but I enjoy every minute of them. In my drawing class we are
working with charcoal and learning the basics of sighting, mapping, and
contour. My 2D class is focusing on visual narratives and different
ways of representing a story… Art history is interesting, the class isn't.
My 3D class is my favorite. I made a 3 foot tall metal sculpture as a abstract caricature of myself. I am quite proud of it.
In other news I am an assistant to my friend, who is a comics
major here. I draw his panel borders and ink them when he needs
it. Soon I will be filling blacks for him. I basically do everything he
doesn't necessarily have time for. I feel really excited and honored
that he trusts me enough to help him with his work. I finally feel like
I am beginning to grasp my career as a comic artist even if I am doing
very minimal, mundane things.
Even though sometimes I am overwhelmed with balancing work and free
time I am indescribably happy. I am working toward my future and I feel
like I am achieving it one step at a time. I don't feel stuck in a rut
like I did all throughout high school. I am surrounded by friends and
like-minded people and I am being given a plethora of new
opportunities. Doors are opening to me and I am starting my life.
I love you Grandma and I hope to hear from you soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One Year Old

Happy Birthday to me, Kloe Among the Turks; this blog has survived one year.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I have the best job in the world.

I was so happy today with my 2D Design class. We had a critique of an organic line project, and my students were articulate and enthusiastic, which makes teaching a pleasure. The mix of mature people (“I lived through the 70s”), scientific types, international students, and unique personalities really gelled tonight.
I also have wonderful friends who are caring about me, even from far away, when certain things really suck in my life (and who is exempt from this?). Thanks for being there. And to you for reading and commenting!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bad Summer Letter

Here’s an email (name deleted) I received from a second year Turkish student. It makes me sad she feels so powerless, but maybe I also felt like that at 20. I’m impressed, though, that she took the initiative to stay in touch with me:
Hi Kloe,
After all I could write a mail :) I hope you are well. Now I'm in the city for some things to do at school. I hope you will be at University this year. May be you are here :) I have a bad summer holiday because I spending time idly :( I want to do lots of things but always I can't. I use a present time for why it's always like this. May be the problem is me… I think absolutely me, but I can't do anything. I don't know what am I going to do :( this annoying me very very lot :( I have lots of dreams but I can't reach them. Can be problem my horoscope :) I 'm pisces :D You know that they always dream and dream :D now that all…

Photo: an old friend and I share gooey profiterols on Istiklal Caddesi.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Yes, A Sunset Pic

Bad, bad artist Kloe. I never let my students use a sunset, it’s just so cliché.

Friday, September 14, 2007

This is where I live.

So you can see how I feel quite unreal. If I didn’t have all the baggage of being a native, I would be in constant awe of the place.
Am going in-line skating. Can you get more SoCal than that?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy Holidays, Oh You Jews and Muslims

Yesterday was the start of Roshashana, and today Ramadan starts. Wishing you joy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Food Progress

I didn’t get food poisoning once this past year; the first time I lived in Anatolia it was my regular way to diet. I think refrigeration has improved in the past decade.
Other things you can find in Turkey that were hard to find 11 years ago:
Skim and lowfat milk
Diet cola
Lots of wine
Different kinds of raki
Organic produce
French cheese
Starbucks and Illy coffee
Asian foods
Salted butter
Here in SoCal I’m missing good feta and yogurt, fresh and cheap bread, flavorful cucumbers, and my favorite tahini rolls. Am about to break out a bottle of raki I brought back with me…

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


On Sept. 11, 2001 I was at home with a two-month-old baby. Woke up late and was nursing when my sister called to ask me if I’d listened to the radio yet. And she said, turn it on.
One of my first thoughts was to be very afraid for one of my best friends who works in Manhattan (she was OK, and saw the whole thing). Other thoughts were where to run. Visions of going south across the border, hiding within our poorer neighbor who normally we shun.
At that time we had a Turkish family living with us. My friends look Turkish, meaning Mediterranean, and the woman doesn’t wear a headscarf. So no one would know they were Muslim by sight. And it turned out they didn’t suffer any discrimination during their stay in SoCal. But they were just as afraid as we were. Their family in Turkey went crazy with worry.
My beautiful Istanbul, at dawn.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cowboy Art

This painting is by Olaf Wieghorst. It’s one of those “if the house catches fire, grab it” artworks. In fact, friends of my parents lost their home in a forest fire a few years ago, and several paintings burned up--those people are still crying. I’ve never loved this work, though, too cool and emotionally distant.
What I do love is Deadwood. I’m watching the third season on DVD now. Smart, violent, sexy, and the language, oh my God, the language is amazing. And Ian McShane really pushes my buttons, but I bet you guessed that…

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Trust in Foreigners

The other day I stopped by Whole Foods for some good quality stuff for my gram. Midway through my shopping spree I realized I’d forgotten my wallet at home (a bad thing to do at W.F.). I had no I.D., so the store wouldn’t even take a check.
If I had been in Turkey, I could have walked over to my bank and solved the problem. Because after the initial set-up of my accounts, no teller ever asked to see my I.D. again. They just gave me money. Incredible, huh?
(I drove home to get my wallet.)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Shooting Noises

Conversation overheard in the back seat of my car (and yes, I got the car):
01: I’m going to kill you with my mega-death.
02: I’m not dead yet… I’m going to shoot you with my ear-guns.
01, 02: (shooting noises)
02: I still didn’t die!
Painting by William Forsythe. It’s a gouache study in one-point perspective for a larger oil. Quite fresh, especially the sky.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Relive your Youth at a Peace Party

Based on my class assignment to make a movie about world peace, two friends held an international peace party at their Turkish apartment last May. It’s sort of long and drunken, but full of beautiful young university students from Turkey and all over Europe, Efes beer and sigara içmek…

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I Want to Drive You Crazy, Too

I try to read all Anthony Lane’s New Yorker movie reviews because they are so smart and funny. Recently he wrote an article, an adoration really, of Barbara Stanwyck, who was born 100 years ago. She was a versatile actress, and the public never really knew her personal life. It struck a chord with me in relationship to the multiple identities I and other visual artists take on.
“When I think of the glory days of American film,” writes Lane, “at its speediest and most velvety, I think of Barbara Stanwyck.”
He quotes from the Howard Hawks film, “Ball of Fire” (1941) to Stanwyck by Gary Cooper: “Make no mistake, I shall regret the absence of your keen mind. Unfortunately, it is inseparable from an extremely disturbing body.”
And a Stanwyck character speaks in a Frank Capra film “Clash by Night”: “What kind of animal am I? Do I have fangs, do I purr? What kind of jungle am I from? You don’t know anything about me.”
To which Lane answers: “No, and it drives us mad. Crazy about you, baby.”
Now is that a love letter, or what?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Drawing from the Nude

I came home from work last night buoyant from teaching my figure drawing class. We had a model for the first time. It’s a very large class with many young students in their first semester of college. Everyone was totally cool, model was professional and beautiful, and one guy even told me, “I just did the best drawing of my life,” to which I replied “Great, I hope you say that often in this class!” Cute, very cute.
One of the religious ladies was in the kitchen, and as I related my day, her eyes grew big. She finally got her question in: why do you have to work with nude models? And you know, no one has ever asked me that before. I told her that sometimes the model is clothed, that we need to see the structure of the body, that we study anatomy. But it really comes down to two things: centuries of tradition of working from the nude, and that people like to look at naked bodies and pictures of naked bodies. Why not be truthful? And believe me, drawing a nude is pretty challenging for most students.
Extra credit for knowing where I took this photo…

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

False Life

So I keep getting reminded, this is not your real life. And yes, when you’ve lived abroad for a year, and you know it’s a temporary situation, you know it’s not your real life. But I came back to another situation that was not my real life either, a stressful situation. Now I’m going to yet another place, which I have six months in, and you guessed it, it’s not real. You get to a point when you just want to live, whether it’s a realistic situation or not.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Young Passion Can Solve World Problems

There was a young American student with me the second semester in Turkey. She was such an archetypal Californian: blond, sexy, always laughing, so friendly, even with very limited Turkish. I’ll call her Sunny. So Sunny was immediately surrounded by many young Turkish guys anxious to take her out, and she smiled on one, and he turned out to be a real sweety. An entrepreneur, working his way through university (not normal), from a liberal family who immediately adopted Sunny. It became serious. Now she’s back in SoCal and he just got a visa to visit her here. And she wants to return to Turkey somehow before she applies to grad school. Imagine if this kind of relationship can promote understanding between cultures, two beautiful talented people from opposite sides of the world who desire each other…

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Thoughts on Excess Stuff

Have been reading some other blogs about expats returning to the USA, and how we are mostly shocked and dismayed at the amount of material stuff we live with here. You can get used to living with so much less, which somehow frees you up for other things, like seeing friends, playing with your kids, making art, or blogging.
I’m having the curious experience of “shopping” in my own house. Let’s say I need something, maybe a tool or some workout pants. In Turkey I would have either done without the thing, or would have had to plan an elaborate shopping trip to purchase it. Here I go into my garage or storage, do a targeted search, and voila, needed item is found.
This artwork fits somehow… a handwoven rug by Renee Petropoulos at Rosamund Felsen.