Jakarta, Indonesia: color

We finally made it to Indonesia and it is more beautiful, more exciting, and much more of an adventure than I was expecting. We are staying just outside of Jakarta in South Tangerang. It is not the vibrant bustling city that I had anticipated, but rather a residential community of expats and Indonesian people. Getting around has been very difficult so far with the insane traffic and lack of public transportation. Instead, Jeremiah and I have been taking walks around the neighborhood, which has actually been better for getting an authentic feel for the Indonesian lifestyle and having a chance to stop and look closely at interesting new things.

When Jeremiah was deciding which cameras to bring on our trip and what kind of film to shoot with, color was the immediate answer. The shades of green are limitless here. We were especially captivated by the empty lot above with that brilliant yellow green grass in the foreground and the strip of darker jungle green against the blues of the concrete wall. I adore that photo for its color and for its stunning composition.

The diversity in the tropical vegetation is unbelievable. I love that in our neighborhood all of the palms and fruit trees are labeled so that I can have my own little biology lesson while walking the dog. My favorite palm has a beautiful textured trunk with a surprising color palette of pinks, orange, yellow ochre and green. I can envision a new body of work inspired by these palms…

Istanbul, Turkey: art

Well, considering that this is a travel blog from an artist’s perspective, I might as well wrap up our visit to Istanbul with an entry about some art that we saw there. The exhibition at the Istanbul Modern, entitled “Past and Future,” featured a variety of pieces from the museum’s permanent collection of modern and contemporary art. Walking into the museum, Jeremiah and I were struck by and odd sense of familiarity. Having never been to a modern art museum outside of the United States, we were uncertain of what we would see. Many of the works reminded us of artists’ works that we know, demonstrating how the influence of major artists spreads rapidly around the globe.

It is no surprise to the people who know my taste in art, that this painting, “Interpretation of Nature” by Devrim Erbil captivated me immediately. I adore his color palette and his application of the paint, layering thin washes of vibrant yellows and thicker bands of gray. There is a harmony of color, shape, and texture that allows me to sit and gaze at every square inch of the canvas without feeling bored or overwhelmed. Aside from being aesthetically drawn to his work, I found the description of his work to be insightful as well. According to the author, “The paintings of Devrim Erbil explore where ‘nature’ ends and ‘abstraction’ begins.” It’s pleasantly reassuring to see artwork in a distant country and read about artists who view the world in a similar way and appreciate the same kind of beauty that I do.

Next stop: Jakarta, Indonesia.

Istanbul, Turkey: vegetarian cuisine

Al fresco dining all along the streets

Grilled vegetables with rice and yogurt sauce

View from the terrace

View of the Blue Mosque from the terrace

Lentil soup with fresh pide (Turkish pita)

Front: tomato and cucumber salad. Behind: roasted vegetable stew

I’ll admit that the one negative aspect of being in Istanbul was the lack of vegetarian menu options. Everywhere we turned there were giant skewers of meat turning in restaurant windows. Sure, we did find some good grilled vegetables, fish (technically we are pescatarian), some stuffed eggplant, and hummus, but there just wasn’t a great variety. Finally we turned to our guide manual for a recommendation and found Doy Doy. The restaurant was five floors, with a gorgeous terrace where we chose to dine. From our table we had beautiful views of the city and the surrounding waters. Adjacent to the grand Blue Mosque, we listened to the sounds of afternoon prayer and watched the birds soar between the minarets. The food was delicious. Jeremiah and I shared a comforting bowl of lentil soup and a fresh cucumber and tomato salad, dressed simply with olive oil and lemon. Next we ordered a dish called “vegetable tiles.” It was a hot stew of tomatoes, carrots, onions, eggplant, and potatoes, seasoned with Turkish spices and served with lots of freshly baked “pide”, or pita. It was the most perfect lunch in the most pleasant atmosphere. If we ever get back to Istanbul, Doy Doy will be the first place we eat.

Hagia Sofia

What an incredible work of art. Experiencing a place that has existed for almost 1.5 thousand years is extraordinary. Built in 537, the Hagia Sofia served as a cathedral with a traditional basilica layout. It was converted to a mosque in 1453 and has been a museum since 1935. The exterior is modestly clad with brick, stone, and stucco, allowing one to marvel at the magnificent architecture. Arches, windows, domes, minarets, doors, columns… the construction is absolutely breathtaking.

Inside, the intricate ceiling mosaics and stained glass windows reflected light in such a miraculous way. It was a remarkably spiritual experience, standing still in the vast interior, with the enormous dome floating impossibly above us.

Most of all, I loved the way they used different colors and textures of marble and Egyptian porphyry on the walls and floors of the entire space. The natural beauty and quality of the stone is something that can not be replicated or improved upon. The web of cracks in the floor and orange rust stains provided endless opportunities for abstract compositions.
I think we were the only tourists photographing the floor cracks and walls…

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