EVON GOKTURK: A LIFE'S WORK
Circuitous Succession Gallery / 500 S. 2nd St. December 4, 2016 - December 18, 2016
Corrie Evon Gokturk was born November 20, 1938, to Durward L. Simmons, Sr. and Corrie Selena Simmons in Germantown, Tennessee. Her mother, a champion archer, died in 1944 when Evon was only 5. Her father remarried Mary Alley Megel soon after. Evon grew up in Germantown with her twin brother, Durward, and siblings Lynn, Bill and Cathy. She graduated from Mabel C. Williams (Germantown) High School in 1956. While in high school, Evon won two National Science Fairs. In 1956, at age 17, she won for a science project titled “Three-Dimensional Periodic Chart.” After graduating high school, Evon attended the University of Knoxville where she met Dr. Turgut K. Gokturk while Evon was studying to be a medical technician. In 1958, at age 20, she left the United States to marry Turgut in Turkey. While living there, they had two daughters, Angela Nuran and Diana Nevin, and Evon also was stepmother to Turgut’s first daughter, Ferda. Evon learned how to speak Turkish and how to prepare Turkish cuisine, very quickly adapting to life in a foreign country. They all survived several earthquakes while living in Ankara.
The family moved back to the US in 1963, settling first in Richmond, Virginia where Dr. Gokturk practiced medicine. Another daughter, Ayla Maria, was born. In 1966, the Gokturks returned to Evon’s home town, Memphis, and the fourth child, son Selim Kemal, was born. Evon’s paintings date from the 1960’s to present. The large English Tudor family home at 2335 Massey Road in East Memphis became a showplace for gourmet dinner parties, oriental carpets, and Evon’s paintings.
The couple divorced in 1980. Evon kept the Massey house which became a mecca of sorts for local Memphis artists, poets and musicians to gather, including Charlie Miller, Dan Spector, Jim Collins, Dan Zarnstorff, Michael Pulliam and others. Evon went back to school and became an RN, reaching the position of head nurse at St. Francis Hospital East. In 1985, she downsized from the Massey house to a townhouse in Cordova. She never stopped creating her art works. When her hands became severely compromised by illness in 2009, her painting style underwent a significant change. Although her health deteriorated, she continues to paint.
Evon’s Memphis ties:
Evon’s father was the architect for the home which later became Elvis Presley’s Graceland. She'd play on the grounds of the estate when she was a little girl. Her father also designed the Germantown Charity Horse-show Arena and the Big Shoe. Evon’s brother was a Germantown police officer. Her ex-husband was a prominent anesthesiologist, practicing predominantly at Methodist Hospital. Evon’s oldest daughter worked for Mayor Wyeth Chandler and for The Commercial Appeal newspaper. All her children attended either Memphis State University or Christian Brothers University.
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image caption: Evon Gokturk, Levitt Shell, 2012 - 2014, Oil on canvas,18”x24”