Islamic religious art tends to avoid the figurative. Images of Mohammed especially are discouraged. (A recent film project in which an actor portrayed the prophet was the subject of much controversy and many threats.) But what it may lack in terms of portraiture and human representation, it sure makes up for with geometric design and curlicues wherever possible. Look at these windows in the Grand Mecidiye Mosque in the Ortaköy neighborhood just north of Istanbul -- the repetitive “prayer rug” pattern in the carpet, the subtle use of gold enhancements to outline architectural details. Adding to this important mosque’s visual charms: it’s situated directly on the shores of the Bosphorus, affording beautiful views both inside and out.
June 17, 2019
As I write this, police and protesters are battling not far from where this picture was taken exactly six years earlier. A country in transition, taking its cue from other fed-up nations nearby over the past few seasons. How different on that morning, Nick and I visiting Istanbul for the first time, enjoying our first Turkish breakfast in a tiny square currently filled with tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons.
June 16, 2019
June 15, 2019
My friends Simon and David have, in their large menagerie, two whippets. Willy the bully; Ama the preyed-upon. Willy, among his many routines, sometimes drags his blankie around with him. So I just couldn’t help draping him and taking this photo. He didn’t seem to mind one bit. Attention whore.
June 14, 2019
Oh, look at my friend Simon. So youthful and boyish. Why, I almost hesitate to point out that this photo was taken 26 years ago. It was my first visit to what has become one of my favorite places in the world. To visit two of my favorite people in the world, my friends Simon and David. If things go as planned, you’ll be reading this just after I've visited them again, this time upon the occasion of the opening of a dual show they’d mounted at Tucson’s Temple of Music and Art. How lucky am I to have such wonderful, talented pals.
June 13, 2019
I’ve mentioned here before how I feel my soul open up each time I visit Tucson. The light, the colors, the space. I remember after my Massachusetts-raised friend Simon had moved here to the Southwest, I asked him if he didn’t miss the sea. His answer: “The sky compensates.” Yes.
June 12, 2019
I suspect that my interest in visiting cemeteries -- in Mexico, in France, here at home -- may be linked with my attraction to the Day of the Dead shrines that appear in Mexican communities at the very beginning of November. Like this one here in a small shop in Tucson, home to a large Mexican-American population. Photos, objects that the departed used to love, sweet bread, even shots of liquor adorn these extravagant shrines. Also models of skeletons, often made from sugar. I love that this is a day to remember, speak to and have fun with memories of loved ones no longer with us. And I love that the passion displayed is so different from the general mien of my New England home and neighbors.