Turkey to benefit from sale proceeds

V. Paul

Leaving a Dinkytown frame shop Wednesday afternoon, Gulin Oz clutched a lithograph of a yellow “A” against a blue background. The $1,200 image was donated by Turkish artist Burhan Dogancay to be sold in a silent auction Wednesday evening.
With that money, University students who lost family members, homes or businesses in Turkey’s August earthquakes might be able to continue their education, Oz said.
“(Students there) are very intelligent people,” said Oz, a graduate student in biochemistry. “It would be a shame if they had to quit their programs because they didn’t have the money.”
Dogancay’s piece, called “Broken A,” and dozens of other local paintings, ceramics and works of art were offered in Wednesday’s silent auction at the Weisman Art Museum. The proceeds will go toward students attending the Bosphorus and the Middle East Technical universities.
Oz, who graduated from Bosphorus University, was visiting family in Turkey during the earthquake. The auction was a result of her efforts, in conjunction with members of the Turkish American Student Association and the University.
“It’s been stressful, especially in the last couple of days,” Oz said. “It’s a big responsibility. A lot of people are supporting you, and you want to keep people satisfied.”
A Turkish kilim, a woven wall decoration with traditional Turkish designs, was priced at $1,300. Several prints of Turkish baths or harems were priced for hundreds of dollars. Decorated shishkebob skewers sold for $2 each.
With the exception of the “Broken A,” about 25 to 45 percent of each item’s proceeds went to students in Turkey. The funds will be donated to scholarship programs at the two universities that contribute to students’ living expenses.
The fund-raiser was also designed to raise awareness of Turkish culture in the Twin Cities, including the modern Turkish artistry.
“It’s not just an earthquake event,” said Mehmet Arik, vice-president of the Turkish American Student Association. “This is an information event of Turkish people and Turkish culture.”
The event, which included an art sale, workshops and educational seminars about Turkey, was also organized by Art Temple and Eat Bugs Art Gallery.
The University rented space in the Weisman and provided publicity for the fund-raiser. At a September meeting between University officials and event organizers, University President Mark Yudof asked them what the University could do to help Turks.
Their response: an art auction.
“I think the president was totally taken up by the energy and commitment that these students are demonstrating,” said Bob Kvavik, associate vice president. “You can’t help, but ask how you can help, too. Turkish students have felt the need to step in.”
Necessary steps
Oz said her experiences in the Turkish earthquake were nothing compared to what students in the more devastated areas went through — losing family and homes and being forced to live in tents with winter approaching.
“It gets cold,” Oz said. “People think Turkey is always warm, but that’s not true.”
Three months after her ordeal, however, Oz said she is still plagued by flashbacks of the night in Istanbul when she and her mother were rocked from their beds by the 7.4 quake and its aftershocks.
“That time in between sleeping and waking up lasted forever,” Oz said. “It was like a black box; I didn’t know where I was after (the earthquake). It took me a long time to realize what actually happened.”
Immediately after returning to Minneapolis, Oz got together with the Turkish student group to organize a fund-raising effort. University researcher David Okar suggested an art-oriented event. Jason Kassel of Eat Bugs Art Gallery thought up the auction.
“It was very organic,” said Okar, who also was in Turkey during the earthquake. “We have people involved who brought different backgrounds and different expertise to it. It was just a coming together of people.”

V. Paul Virtucio welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3234.