Istanbul, mon amour....

Things I loved here....

  • The Grande Hotel de Londres - Amazing place, loaded with history and a great crowd in the lobby.  Wireless access, central location, strong tea, great decor and wonderful staff. (And they have great new carpeting in the lobby.)  Hemmingway stayed here, so should you.
  • Beyoğlu - This is the neighborhood where it all happens.  Amazing food and the nightlife is endless. Everyone from beautiful people to bohemians is in the neighborhood and on the streets around Istiklal Caddesi (especially in the Asmalımescit area).  Everything to do with art, style, fashion, and food can be found here in the area between Tunel Station and Taksim Square.  Galatasaray has the championship football team.
  • Kepabs at Beyoğlu Köftecisi - The language barrier cannot survive when there is food this good and so inexpensive.
  • Hagia Sophia - In the morning light sublime, in the evening light, unforgettable.  Go early and go often.  Tourists are too shy to go up to the best parts.  Even with scaffolding in place the dome is a wonder to behold.
  • Kariye Museum - This is a must see.  Preserved mosiacs, restored frescoes, and porphyry walls make this an unexpected feast for the eyes.  Go on a Thursday when it is less crowded.  I had the entire museum to myself.
  • Rustempasha Mosque - For me, the most beautiful of Sinan's creations.  The tile ornament is dizzying in its complexity.  The domed space is vast and airy but the space is intimate.  It is a masterpiece of installation.
  • The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art - This is also referred to as the Carpet Museum. Nothing can prepare you for it.  The scale and execution of the materials in this place are mind boggling.  You completely understand why people wrote stories about flying carpets.  These things are so magical they could be lighter than air.
  • Fish sandwiches on the Bosphorus - You get off the train and there is a guy on a boat with a grill. He tells you that a sandwich is 3YTL.  You have one and it is so fresh and so sweet and so good that you walk over the bridge from Galata every day to have one.  You are never disappointed.
  • Konak Restaurant in Tunel Square - There is another location closer to Taksim but the Tunel location makes much better pide sandwiches.  Plus the front is open for people watching and the ice cream is unreal.
  • Turkish ice cream - Really, it's incredibly rich and good.

Meeting people....

I've met a lot of people this week. I really think I may have met too many people. I am really exhausted.

The first week of classes is over and it was really great. I have 2 fine cohorts of students and they are really excited about getting to work. The rosters and working with the Registrar has been difficult, but I am hoping the sailing is a lot smoother here on out.

The high point of the week, besides the teaching, setting up my studio, and meeting Hung Liu, an amazing artist from China, was the Visiting Artist Lecture from Steven Yazzie. I met Steven at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture when he was a Participant in 2006. The work he created there became a large scale, multi-media project called Drawing and Driving. He showed this work and all it its various permutations and also showed work he is making with a collaborative of artists called Postcommodity. It was a really far reaching presentation and he talked very generously about his practice and how he allows his work to grow out of itself. He is a very exciting artist to keep an eye on.

After Steven's lecture, we went to dinner at a restaurant called local11ten, where all the the food on the menu was locally grown. It made me think of Sarah Beth, she would have loved to see a fine dining establishment that was committed to the local environment and area growers. Plus the food was amazing. Steven, and I got to talk and I also got to speak at length with the amazing Hung Liu. Her show is at SCAD right now and there was a very large speaking event for her the same night as Steven's. I wish that I could have heard her speak as well. Since she grew up in Communist China and I grew up in a leftist family, we had a great time singing old party songs and talking about Paul Robeson. Her exhibition at SCAD is called Memorial Grounds. You can see images of her work at her website.

We also had a sort of pep rally/faculty meeting this morning for the entire faculty. SCAD is essentially staffed by adjuncts at the Savannah campus, so this means that there are a huge number of people teaching here, just like MassArt. At this all faculty meeting, we had a speaker named Peggy Maki, an Education Consultant and Assessment Editor who talked to us about how to assess students and how to figure out how they are doing in class. I have to tell you, I was so glad that I knew about the Studio Habits of Mind because everything this woman was saying was an affront to what I know about making and teaching art. She was so focused on rhetoric and rubrics that she lost sight of what and how one learns in the making. It was so results oriented that she never saw what artists learn from error or mistakes. Lastly, it was so concerned with metric evaluation that it did not move the student from problem solving to problem creating. You can bet that as soon as the presentation was over, I gave her my card with the name of Lois's book on the back. I have to order another copy of the book from Amazon. I gave my copy away.