True Artist

I must admit that I was feeling a bit sorry for myself today. My school is off next week and most of my friends are off to faraway places like Rome and Iceland. But recently, I’ve had this ‘pay off your debt’ mindset so saving money, not traveling, is high on my priority list. Plus, when my retirement person said, ‘You are really behind in your retirement savings’ I knew it was time to smell the coffee.

So when I woke up this morning I realized that I have three art projects that have been hanging around, unfinished in my apartment. And I decided right then (as I was downloading the new episode of Justified – love this show), that I must find inspiration and make this… The Week of Art.

My friend Pia is an artist at heart and in life. Whenever I tell people that Pia and I were hanging out, they always say that Pia is so cool. What a cool girl Pia is. I have never been the cool girl but I will settle for cool by association! Anyways, we were wondering around the antiques district called Cukercuma. Did you know that ‘antique’ in Turkish means ridiculously overpriced, you must be kidding, I wouldn’t pay that for a new liver expensive? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

As we were walking along, I noticed this painting outside, leaning against a wall:


Anyone that knows me understands that I really enjoy modern art. For my birthday two summers ago, I went to the Tate in London. I want to live there.

But when Pia and I looked into the building that the painting was leaning against, it looked like a mess and I had to convince her a little to check it out with me. Really, we had no idea but she speaks Turkish so I thought, well this could be a disaster or this could be the best discovery of the week! It turns out it was AWESOME.

Long story short, we met this older gentleman who was a painter named Avn Akmehmetoglu. Walking into his studio, it was a disaster. Paint everywhere, old cups, paper, books, and cigarette butts strewn about. There were several water leaks coming down from ceiling which meant parts of the floor were wet. But surrounding us were these amazing paintings. It was like walking into a sort of art dream. Pia and he got to talking and essentially he recently began to paint and he does so because he feels he has to. After talking about his paintings he eventually made some tea for us and started reading poetry in Turkish. I don’t speak nearly enough Turkish, but I could feel the words moving through him. For me, this man is a true artist.

There was one painting that I admired and found intriguing as it was very dark. When I asked him about it, he painted in response to the murder of a young girl. It happened a few weeks ago here in Turkey and it has galvanised this nation. Here is a link if you want to read about it for yourself. But part of the outrage is that the murderer cut off her hands so there were no fingerprints. This is his painting in response to this horrible incident:


It is a little blurry, but can you see the painted hands? So for me, Avn is a poet but a poet with his paintbrush.

I ended up buying one of his pieces. I can’t explain it but I just love this piece. I saw it immediately when we walked in and I kept going back to this piece. Actually, there were three paintings I loved, only this one was for sale. I am not going to tell you how much I paid for this artwork but I will tell you it was a steal. I only had a little cash on me, so I gave him part of the payment and he said to pay him the rest next month. And he let me take the painting home. Check it out below with the artist:

Art is so subjective, but I just found it whimsical and colorful. And the price, honestly, such a deal. I find myself so inspired today that I must be sure to thank my lucky stars tonight for guiding me and Pia to this place. What a great afternoon.


  1. Susan Wachowiak

    What a great experience! Painter, poet, artist, friend. Soo happy for you!

  2. Debi Mauricio

    I love this story! Life is meant to be discovered like this. Don’t sell yourself short Claire, you ARE cool!

    1. Hi Debi! I wish you could see the studio and meet him – it was just so inspiring. I went back later and brought him some blank canvases that I never used – he was so surprised to see me – it was just all around, a great afternoon!!
      Claire – still not cool, but I am okay with that 🙂

  3. Claire, you are beyond cool, you are a joy!

  4. Hey Claire,
    Don’t you find it intriging that while you’re enjoying Justified, where this an “old man” named Art, you find and buy art from an old man in Istanbul?.. ;-p

    Anyway, I love the way you walk around Istanbul to make it yours, and take chances that will end up being precious memories later on. You might not be the “cool girl” people talk about, but your attitude in life is definitely cool.

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