Friday, August 31, 2007
Have been in such a funk lately. Nothing has been feeling right. But things are starting to look better now.
Here’s a chicken with breasts I designed for a friend of mine. She had the prototype made in Italy. Isn’t it funny? Can you imagine this baby on the table at your next dinner party?
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Lots of my artists friends are showing in the next few weeks. I’m also preparing several exhibitions. Stopped by a new gallery the other day; amazing, as opening a gallery is a labor of love that almost never pays off financially. Anyway, this work is by Larry Caveney. An interesting show of highly textured abstractions. I had no idea what kind of art Larry made, and was expecting something quite different. Nice to be surprised!
… and how do you all like my new leather skirt? Ain’t it cute?
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
A friend lost his job the other day. It was a job he didn’t really like, that didn’t challenge him, and had no future. Only paid the bills.
I know many people work like this. It makes me so thankful I have a job (tenuous, yes) I love, one that constantly changes and invigorates me. I’m back teaching now at my very urban college. The SoCal students are as diverse as the Turkish students were homogenous.
Many of my eager bunch this term are older, with degrees in engineering or marketing or nursing, and have realized they aren’t happy, so are returning to school to explore art. And even if they never become artists, at least they are pursuing their goal, working toward it, and this gives them and me a great deal of satisfaction and joy.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Recently I’ve come in close contact with some lovely Southern ladies who have been helping us out. They are very religious and bring their Bible studies with them to work. One of them looked askance at my coffee drinking habit the other morning; she has not yet been here when we break out the scotch. (In fact, we are family that still honors the cocktail hour, occasionally for some, regularly for others.) So there are cultures among us as exotic as Turks to yabancis.
later... Today my new friend asked for coffee! One part coffee, three parts water, but still!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
A blogger was thrown in jail in California a few weeks ago. Jack McClellan, a self-described xx, blogs about how he xx young girls, ages 3-11. He also posts photos he shoots of such girls and tells his readers where to find the “cutest” ones. So, yes, this is rather odious, but he has committed no crime. He has never been convicted of xx, he only writes of desire. It is also perfectly legal to take photos in public and post them online. A Californian judge put a restraining order on him to stay away from children, but he broke it and got arrested. Released after 10 days, he says he’ll leave “Orwellian” California voluntarily.
This story brings up so many juicy topics. If he stated his writings are fiction and a publicity stunt (very successful, if so--he’s a minor celebrity here now), would he still have gone to jail? The notion that we own our images and those of our children and property is ancient and deep. If I paint a picture of the house you built, and then sell it for thousands, you might think you deserve a piece. And is desire punishable? It’s such a Christian notion, to be punished for bad thoughts.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
A few months ago I got a lovely letter from a fellow artist/art educator. She told me she had read this blog, and it brought up all kinds of yearning for her. She struggles with her career like I do, although she’s more successful than I; she also feels hoodwinked in choosing academia, but reminded me that we are lucky to be able to do what we feel compelled to do; and we are both blessed to have kids and travel.
Anyway, D, your letter meant a lot. I hope you are well, and I send all of you who yearn like us many kisses…
In my Turkish class my teacher called the young students by their first names, but I was Kloe Hanim. I know this was a mark of respect, and she was a bit younger than I, but it made me feel so old. In fact, I am, but I fight against it every moment. I also got called Kloe Teyze (Aunt Kloe), which was even worse.
One good thing about casual SoCal is that everyone, young and old, gets called by their first name. And pretends to be young.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Don’t lose the balance of wisdom,
Because it is the measure in affairs;
Don’t let your heart desire tyranny,
Because tyrants don’t have any helpers;
Because this is the key to happiness and prosperity
Here and hereafter
My grandparents collected Western art, paintings and small sculpture, from the early 60s to the late 80s. I have no artist relatives, so they were the main artistic influences of my early life. Their taste in art was conservative, but sound, and over the years the art they bought and sold helped put several grandchildren through school. But I’m sure they didn’t collect for investment—they collected because they loved having beautiful things around, and also enjoyed their friendships with artists and dealers. There are stories my grandfather told of meetings in parking lots, choosing paintings from the trunks of cars.
Many of the works have been sold off or given away now, but my gram still remembers the stories, and is afraid they will be lost when she is gone. So I’m going to tell a few. Here’s one:
This oil is by Burt Proctor. My grandparents bought it about 30 years after it was painted. One day the Proctors and the Wieghorsts came to dinner at my grandparents’ home, and when Proctor saw the painting he was stunned, said the last time he’d seen it was in his own mother’s home, and it had been lost for years. The cowboy is a self portrait, painted from a mirror. I love how the orange in the scarf and background canyon flattens the work, and that minty green is so unexpected. The motion of the figure is also awkward and authentic. Can’t you just feel the tension?
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
It’s the first week of school. Last night we had tears of exhaustion, but in the end there is relief that at least they can understand everyone around them. School starts for me next week, am madly printing syllabuses and attending meetings. I need it.
Notice my cat blob in the background—her name is Mashie, short for Masallah. She is currently a bowling ball with legs. My chickens are also all fine, although a few days ago there was a snake in the hen house, and it had just swallowed an egg!!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I’m taking this passage, describing Sibelius’ Fourth Symphony, as my inspiration (along with Black Velvet) for my next series of paintings. I’m going to paint ten to twelve 32" square, expressive abstractions (hopefully) based on the figure from collaged photos, treating them as one work.
I love this description. I’ve replaced the musical terms with painting references:
The narrative … is circular rather than linear: it keeps revisiting the same insoluble conflicts. An effort at establishing … the initially sunnier.. second (painting)… founders on an immovable obstacle… after which there is a palpable shrug of defeat. The third (painting) dramatizes an attempt to build, (stroke by stroke) a solemn theme of funerary character, the first attempt falters… , the second… , the third… , the fourth…The fifth attempt preceeds with vigor but seems to go on too long, sprawling… without coming to a logical conclusion. Finally, with an audible grinding of the teeth, the full (composition displays) the theme in a richly harmonized guise. Then uncertainty steals back in. The finale thins out as it goes along, as if random (colors had been squeezed on onto the palatte)… It’s as if a foreign body were exerting gravitational force on the (artwork), slowing it down.
From "Apparition in the Woods; Rescuing Sibelius from Silence" by Alex Ross, The New Yorker, July 9/16, 2007.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Did you know, I play the piano. Classical. In Turkey I didn’t have access to one, and now that I’m back in SoCal, my favorite piano is here for me, a lovely baby grand that has always been so comforting. I play mainly Bach, because I like how soothing it is, how mathematical and precise, the different voices switching between hands, overlapping. When my brother died a few years ago, it was Bach that got me through those first terrible days and nights.
So you see, cultured wench that I am, I was born in the wrong century; I should have been a Jane Austen babe, with how I draw and play music. No needlepoint, though. Maybe knitting counts?
Kid.01 is taking piano lessons. He’s ahead of the game with the year of music lessons (mostly recorder) he had in Turkey. I hope he continues; music is so important for the mind, and I credit my diligent piano practicing through my early teens with much of my subsequent academic success (thanks Mom!). I would like a jazz-baby though, a musical form I could never even approach.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
I’ve been cooking for someone for whom expense and calories are no consideration, and it’s been quite liberating. I use cream and butter and mayo and olive oil, I buy goat cheese and cured meats and endive. Neighbors are providing us with garden veggies (the tomatoes are incredible this year). We do fish and shellfish (you may be surprised to know seafood is expensive here in SoCal, the local fisheries having been depleted.)
And still she barely eats, or has only a few bites and then gets tired. I try to make nice presentations, use the good china, sit with her and eat my tiny meal. And I savor a small victory when she likes it.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I had to complete a final report for the grant I received to teach in Turkey. One of the items was to describe my most important achievement of the year abroad. Even though I was a pioneering foreign member of a department, I designed a new course (the new media/installation/performance class), I opened two one-person exhibitions, and I almost got arrested, I without hesitation wrote that this blog was my most significant accomplishment. Because of the number of people I have reached, the broad range of topics I tried to explore, and the consistent visual theme of identity and sexuality I pursued (how’s that for ArtSpeak), this blog touches on all I want to do with my art. Plus it is very important to me personally.
So with that in mind, I have decided not to end the blog, at least for now. And that includes keeping the name, even though Kloe is no longer exactly Among the Turks. I’m now taking a broader understanding of “Turk,” using it in the old-fashioned sense of “Young Turks” (although I have no opinion about Young Turks and genocide; I take the definition of a progressive group).
Cool sculpture by Joanne Hawakawa.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Is there anything nicer than sitting in a big armchair, one kid who smells like chlorine sitting on your lap, pinching your arm and softly mumbling to himself, while the other kid, fresh-faced from meeting his new teacher (schools starts in four days), reads Harry Potter to you? There are some other lovely things in this world, but this is definitely up there, it definitely ranks.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
My office janitor in Turkey took me under her wing, and she left me this note. Someone translated it for me as something like “foreigners don’t care we have hard lives.” (I welcome comments to correct this…)
I heard from Turks of every walk of life–from professors to doctors to students to janitors to bus drivers and shop keepers–that life in Turkey is hard. I do not deny that life is hard for the very poor, the laborers, the people who live in gecekondu (slums) with no plumbing. I know it is very hard in the East. But life in Western Turkey is also good for a great number of people. For example, right now it’s August, and many Turks are at the seaside. How many Americans have “summer houses” or month-long vacations? Turks also retire quite young, in their early 50s, like my janitor friend is about to do.
Another Turk told me that I have “great positive energy.” Well, yes, I’m normally an optimistic person, but I think it’s more an American thing. So are Turks just a pessimistic people, like the Argentines?
Monday, August 13, 2007
What makes me take on multiple identities? It’s not the first time I’ve done it. Something in me wants to be different, more glamorous, more dangerous, more sexy, than the wholesome freckle-faced girl I was raised to be.
Yes, Kloe is me, but an alternative me. Is it not OK to have virtual make-believe selves that you will never know in real life?
There is a recent history of feminist artwork based on alternative identities. The above show, Identity Theft: Eleanor Antin, Lynn Hershman, Suzy Lake 1972-1978, was at the Santa Monica Museum of Art this summer. Over the course of years these three pioneering artists assumed other, often elaborate, selves. For example, Hershman’s “Other,” Roberta Breitmore, eventually had her own apartment, checking account, and dating experiences, while the artist lived her life as a wife and mother. In the same way, I can live as multiple, virtual personalities, while some only know me as their teacher and others as a soccer mom. If I only had the soccer mom identity I would probably walk into the Pacific and not look back…
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Today I set up a temporary painting studio in the garage. Here’s Pollyana speaking: can’t do better for natural light and fresh air! I’m restretching my Portraits of Turkish Women (I left all the original stretchers and frames in Turkey, rolled up the canvases, and packed them in my suitcase to bring back to SoCal). Will start a new series of paintings soon, abstractions based on the body, I think, with very thick and juicy paint.
My friend showed my big nudes in NY last weekend, and she said people really liked them. Maybe something will come of it. I am more determined that ever to focus on my work, to get shown, not to be a “failed artist,” a concept I want to talk more about later.
Above is the work a former professor of mine, cell phone portraits. Quite an iconic image, don't you think?
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I have to say I am REALLY happy to be drinking wine from California again. The Turkish wine industry is just too young to produce quality wine, and the price for a bottle averages around $10 in the grocery store. How can Turks afford that? On the other hand I was astounded at the low price of wine in Germany, about $4 for a bottle from Australia.
My sis, an amazing cook, made a Spanish stew with turnips the other night, and we drank wine, and ate heirloom tomatoes and Ben and Jerry’s with homemade chocolate sauce. Thanks, Babe, for coming down… and Happy Bday, Mom!
I suppose you’re wondering how kids who have been abroad for a year are adjusting back to life in the Lalaland fast lane. The answer is… just fine. In fact, Kid.02 seems extremely happy, and LOUD, which reassures us because he’s always been a bit timid. For a while he was speaking and singing in Turkish here, more than he ever did in Turkey, and refusing to understand or speak Spanish (which he can). Kid.01 was immersed in many camps, and I think got a bit exhausted, but he’s also happy. Especially about Mexican food…
School starts in a few weeks, so we’ll see how that adjustment goes. I have a feeling it won’t be as smooth.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Although the two older cousins have been to The Magical Kingdom multiple times (when you live here they seem to go once a year), the two little ones have never been. Parental guilt. So what if it’s high season, it was fun. I actually love the place, feel like I almost grew up there, quintessential SoCal. And what a business, the freeway HOV lane actually exits straight into the parking lot.
So I was taking some photos in this art gallery, and an attendant came up and told me her daughters play with Bratz, and that I looked like one. I was very complimented…
I like these plexiglass landscapes by Terri Friedman (at ShoshanaWayne). Sort of bubble gummy, and about environmental degradation.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day, and the author admitted that she sometimes does things and definitely notices more of what’s going on around her because both are potentially bloggable. So this is a benefit of blogging: you become more aware, alert to your life.
Then maybe this blog is just a habit I can’t drop now, my thinking has been altered to feel compelled to share my thoughts with you, at least some of my thoughts. And here’s a secret: we’re taking the kiddies to DLand on Thursday! I still remember how I felt as a child of 7 or 8, to be taken to the best place on earth…
I also loved this piece, at Mark Moore Gallery by Rachel Perry Welty. Sort of a Richard Serra done by a woman, and a wrong breath might cause the whole thing to collapse.
It’s called 208,896 Loaves, isn’t that smart and funny? See detail below…
Saturday, August 04, 2007
I’m past the mini van stage. I thought a small hatchback, like what most people drive in Turkey, would be fine, but in a way that would be returning to my college days, when I drove a bright orange Mazda GLC. So when a luxury car came up, and I drove it for a few days, I fell in love… Notice the San Pellegrino I’m drinking in SoCal traffic…
Friday, August 03, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
So I needed an art fix; saw this show at LACMA and was not disappointed. It was gorgeous. Flavin has spent his career working with fluorescent lighting tubes, the kind you find at Home Depot. The museum retrospective was chronological, divided up into rooms holding one or two works each. I walked through a garden of light candy, sometimes white, often brilliant color. How can something so artificial make me think of nature? And I’m very picky about lighting, I notice it before anything else in a room.
I liked that the exhibition was only sensual, and easy to experience. The doorway to each room glowed with color and promise, and there were little edges of color, like a Deibenkorn painting.
Also Flavin created one of my all time favorite titles for a blue fluorescent corridor: Untitled (to my dear bitch, Airily) 1981.
Pictured is a “barrier,” Untitled (to you, Heiner, with admiration and affection) 1973.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
I had shortly before I left Turkey went like this…
Kloe: Are women allowed to be leaders in Islam?
(My friend called her father, cause she doesn’t know much about her religion, and he was a high school “Morality Teacher” before retiring.)
Answer: Islam came from Arabia, which treated its women as second-class citizens, so Islam continues this tradition.
Kloe: So what about now?
Answer: No. Men are not capable of following a woman, because they would always think impure thoughts. But at least men are honest about their desire. Women are twisted in their thinking, they never say the truth. If you ask a man “Are you hungry?” he will answer simply, “yes” or “no.” A woman will always say “no, no, no,” but may indeed want the tea you are offering.
(notice the woman in the burka standing in the doorway of the mosque)