Franny GoldenFranny Golden ~ Artist

8, rue porte neuf    47600 francescas Contact: France: 33 (0)5 47 89 90 29

FG: First Person
l2 December l992
Cosmic Physics
Sunflowers, Cappadocia
Sunflowers, Cappadocia

Anxious about my uncertain future, I tell myself that I do, indeed, have a daimon; that if I work five hundred per cent--try my absolute, very best--just-reward and compensation will, according to some principle of cosmic physics, come back to me in direct proportion to the amount of energy expanded. Yesterday, the gods offered a glimpse of such hope.

In the early morning I gave my coveted corduroy Detroit Pistons cap to Faruk, a Lise student I adore. Here on refugee status from Yugoslavia, he's a most insightful, well-adjusted, unabashed young man, and I often walk-in on him in an empty classroom, while he is practicing his hook shot with a chalk eraser and an imaginary hoop. So when I sat him down, ordered him to close his big browns and yanked the cap down between his large ears, he yelped with joy after he recognized the Pistons logo.

Within an hour's time I gave something else away: a painting I did of Hisar Camii, to the building maintenance secretary, without whose connections to the school's underpaid carpenters, guards, electricians and welders, I'd never have paintings, stretchers or frames. Or studio furnishings. Or electrical fixtures. Or truck transportation. Once, after we had met with the carpenter, to order stretchers and frames for fifteen large paintings, I walked back to the workshops--and Aysun's office--to inquire as to the carpenter's progress. There I beheld the beautifully framed paintings arranged along her office walls. Delighted, I turned to her and grinned, "They look so wonderful here!" Locking her joined palms between her knees, she sighed, "Oh, Franny, I love them all!" So when I dragged the five foot painting down to her office she stamped her feet and wailed, "No, Franny, I will not take it." Oh, yes you will, I lifted my chin and eyebrows simultaneously, like a Turk, and planted my hands at my hips.

At morning tea-break the Headmaster calls me to his office and suggests that I had better attend that afternoon's Closing Ceremony (which I never do). Closing Ceremony, every Friday afternoon, is an official Ministry mandate. Inasmuch as my Friday schedule terminates at ll:30, I am on the village road by ll:35, hitchhiking my way towards Istanbul.

Wearing my coat, correcting Othello exams in the last row of the auditorium, I am ready to bolt. Cross-country awards are complete, and the microphone is passed to a student named Bora. While I am half-way through seventy-five impassioned essays about character of Emilia, I hear something about a painting.

Frozen, I roll my eyeballs inside their lids, hold my breath, and hear Bora declare that a group of them love both the painting and the artist. My heart slumps, then recovers: palpating, throbbing, pumping, shaking. My chin drops to my sternum and the student next to me cuddles her arms around my neck, "Oh, m'am, we love you!"

"So," continues the microphone, "We all decided to buy the painting and give it to the school: in honor of the artist, Ms. Golden. Ms. Golden? M'am? Where are you? Will you please come up here and share the light?" Eight-hundred-fifty students begin to hoot and clap and stamp their feet. Though stunned, I do see two Lise students, marching from stage left, parading between them an art room easel, on which is perched a large painting--draped with somebody's dormitory bed sheet.

"M'am, where are you!" the microphone demands. Surrounding students pull me to my feet and push me to the aisle. The throng cheers and claps and stamps, "Gol-den! Gol-den! Gol-den!"

Numbness creeps across my skin, then burrows deep into my hair follicles. I can neither see nor hear. Still, I find myself at the foot of the stage, being tugged and hugged and kissed by a blur of red and black uniforms. With dramatic flurry Ebru jerks the striped bed sheet from the painting, revealing a sunflower image from last month's Gallery Arsiv show. "Oh's," and "ahs" current the crowd and, again, they yell and cheer my name in hyphenation. At last Ebru hands me a list of students' names: those who have contributed to this remarkable shock. More hoots and cheers and stamps.

I rear back to the front row of seats and collapse, studying the list of names--thirty-five students as well as the Turkish Military Headmaster, Atakan Bey. I am dumbfounded: astonished at his participation and support.

When we all stand for the Turkish National Anthem, I spy the portly, thickset little Ataken Bey at his official place behind the stage microphone--smiling and winking at me with his half-bowed-head. I cry and ponder my daimon.

Postscript: Across from the Headmaster's office, the elegantly framed painting hangs, to which a bronze plaque has been affixed: "Presented to Koc Ozel Lisesi, by students in honor of the artist, Franny Golden, their teacher and friend."

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