Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hungarian sculptor Istvan Mate's bronze Ronald Reagan unveiled as Facebook-inspired protest fizzles


Detail of Istvan Mate's statue of Ronald Reagan in Budapest. Photo by Stefan van Drake (2011)


29 June 2011. Freedom Square, Budapest, Hungary

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan took his first steps in Budapest on 29 June 100 years after his birth.

It was pomp and political circumstance, a GOP (U.S. Republican Party) junket that proceeded without incident as only nine people showed up for what was billed as a protest by Hungarian leftists.

Caught permanently in mid-stride, the bigger than life bronze likeness of Reagan by Hungarian master sculptor Istvan Mate weighs 400 pounds and stretches to 2.18 meters (7 ft. 2 in.).

The 40th U.S. president enjoyed a warm reception by Hungary's ruling elite, notably by its Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, a conservative who commands a majority in parliament.

"Walking with Reagan" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Orban joined former U.S. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, ex-U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese (age 79) and current Republican House majority whip Kevin McCarthy of California.

Each cast Reagan as the Cold Warrior who liberated Hungary from Soviet communism,  a beacon of world freedom.

Condolezza Rice, center, flanked by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (right). Photograph by Stefan van Drake 

If you believed everything you heard at Reagan's unveiling, Reagan single-handedly collapsed the Iron Curtain.

As though Gorbachev was merely an American aparchik having little or no role in the USSR's implosion.


"Tear Down This Wall" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

But those in power re-write history and the ceremony did nothing to dispel this axiom.

"I thought I would never see Reagan wearing a burka," one visiting American told me, noting Reagan's statue shrouded in a white sheet.

Tight security prevailed as Viktor Orban spoke. Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

When the bronze Reagan was unveiled, I could only see the back of his head facing the Soviet memorial located about 70 meters away, which recognizes the Red Army's role in liberating Hungary from Nazi occupation, the only Soviet-era monument remaining in Budapest.

The 40th U.S. president appears walking to the Soviet WWII memorial monument. Photograph by Stefan van Drake 
The others, removed after the Soviets departed Hungary, are sequestered in a tourist attraction called "Memento Park."

Hungarian honor guard, its band along with a handful of U.S. Embassy Marines managed to block nearly all sight lines to the politicos.

"Pomp and Politics" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Instead, the crowd of about 300 onlookers viewed two huge video screens seeing and hearing speakers extoll the virtues of Reagan, including a 10-minute video summary of his life and times in English (no Hungarian sub-titles), featuring his famous sound bite: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

Two Hungarians, well placed and likely on the government's payroll, waved American flag in rhythmic unison as Orban, Rice, Meese and McCarthy spoke.

"Striking the Set" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)


Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

Note:
After nearly two weeks living at the 3.5-star Hotel Queen Mary in the center of Budapest's 7th District (Jewish Quarter), I heartily recommend it: old on the outside, otherwise totally modern; it's an extremely excellent value. (I'm not getting a discount for this...it's my idea because it is what it is.)
The owner and staff are great and speak English and German. Tel: 0036-1-413-3510; www.hotelqueenmary.hu; info@hotelqueenmary.hu.
There's a generous buffet breakfast that comes with the room, and everything in Budapest is close to you.

Visit Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. See: www.spanjeanders.nl and www.competafinearts.com.


"Spanish life stilled," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)


ArtTraveler´s video: an interview with Scottish illustrator and painter, Gordon Wilson, about his new "I Love Fish" exhibition, inspired by a commissioned mural he did 12 years ago for a West Glasgow gangster, who loved supporting writers and artists as well as organized crime.

You may reach me at stefanvandrake@gmail.com or by calling (34) 915 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Exclusive: Hungary's art and politics fuse as Facebook protest fizzles at Ronald Reagan hoopla in Budapest

Ronald Reagan in Repose, exclusive to ArtTraveler by Kinga Kalocsal


29 June 2011--Budapest, Hungary

A Facebook-inspired protest against Hungary's unveiling of a bronze statue of Ronald Reagan only attracted 9 people, the organizer of the protest said after the event of 29 June.

The 2.18 meter (7 ft. 2 in.) sculpture by Hungarian maestro Istvan Mate (b.1952), revealed to the public for the first time at Freedom Square (Szabadsag ter) near the Hungarian Parliament, commemorates 100 years since Reagan's birth.

It's the second likeness of the U.S. 40th president in Budapest.

The bronze Ronald Reagan at U.S. Capitol building, Washington, D.C.



The other is a bronze bust, installed in September 2006 under a socialist regime. It appears near a statue of George Washington.

Mate's work, more than a little controversial, comes after six months of planning by the Hungarian Ronald Reagan Memorial Committee.

Mate, whose bronze casting studio is in Budpest, was born in Csongrad in the southern part of the country.

He was graduated from the Hungarian College of Fine Arts in 1976 and in 2002, received the Gold Cross of the Hungarian Republic.

The Ronald Reagan Resurrection

Today's resurrection of Reagan happens close to the U.S. Embassy and to another sacred monument, the only Soviet-era statue and memorial left standing in the city (and not in Memento Park, where the rest are tourist attractions).

A Hungarian arts professional showed me the Soviet monument and provided its history.

"If we were to take it down, it would cause real problems with Russia," she said. The monument commemorates the Red Army's liberation of Budapest and Hungary from Nazi control.

If you follow the thematic logic, each is compatible with the other.

Historical irony?



Today's event, starting at 2:30 p.m. (as I write, it's 11 a.m.), will see former U.S. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (leader of the country's conservative majority in parliament) officiate at the ceremony commemorating the Cold Warrior U.S. dead president, credited with helping take own the Iron Curtain, returning sovereignty to Hungary.

According to at least six Hungarian arts professionals, from artists, art historians, museum directors and a host of others I've talked to in my 12 days here, Hungarian PM Orban is not only autocratic, dictatorial and wildly erratic, but also a "fascist."

Mr. Orban, tear down this statue

Today's march and demonstration may be as much against his regime--a year old with three more to go--as anything. (I will be at the demonstration and report later.)


Reagan's oft-remembered sound bite: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

He's also known for inventing what Reagan dubbed his "11th Commandment": "Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican."

Revisionists heap credit on him for stalwart opposition to Communism.

On the home front he's remembered as an icon of the neo-conservative movement; the California governor who stamped out student unrest, cut state budgets on the backs of his state's poor; and as president, emasculated collective bargaining in the United States, starting with the air traffic controllers' union, which all but died with a stroke of his pen.

Reagan gets a statue, Elvis a park

In addition to Hungary's bronze, 400 pound salute to Reagan, other countries are lining up to pay tribute.

In Krakow, Poland, the archbishop conducted a "Mass of Thanksgiving" remembering Reagan; Prague is naming a street after him (about three weeks ago, the mayor of Budapest named not only a street but an entire park after Elvis Presley); and on July 4 in central London close to the U.S Embassy, another bronze Ronald Reagan will be installed.

Neither Reagan nor Elvis ever visited Hungary.

Elvis Presley Park Photograph courtesy of Peter Fitz of Budapest (2011)


You can credit U.S. politicians for starting the remember Reagan through art movement.

In June 2009, the government unveiled a bronze Reagan at the U.S. Capitol.

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™
Note: 
After nearly two weeks living at the 3.5-star Hotel Queen Mary in the center of Budapest's 7th District (Jewish Quarter), I heartily recommend it: totally renovated, old on the outside, otherwise totally modern; it's an extremely excellent value. (I'm not getting a discount for this...it's my idea because it is what it is.) 
The owner and staff are great and speak English and German. Tel: 0036-1-413-3510; www.hotelqueenmary.hu; info@hotelqueenmary.hu. 
There's a generous buffet breakfast that comes with the room, and everything in Budapest is close to you.

Visit Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. See: www.spanjeanders.nl and www.competafinearts.com.


"Spanish life stilled," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)

ArtTraveler´s video: an interview with Scottish illustrator and painter, Gordon Wilson, about his new "I Love Fish" exhibition, inspired by a commissioned mural he did 12 years ago for a West Glasgow gangster, who loved supporting writers and artists as well as organized crime.

You may reach me at stefanvandrake@gmail.com or by calling (34) 915 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Godor Klub: How a pothole became Budapest's music and arts scene

"Mistress of Con Fusion" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Expect the unexpected in Budapest.

The heaving sounds of Hungarian folk music fused with hard rock bounced off the thick and raw concrete walls of the Godor Klub in central Budapest.

After the Soviet empire imploded,  Hungary's political right and left fought for control. Each brought its own vision for a brighter future.

Godor Klub arts space Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

After years of bickering, one ruling party decided to build a new national theatre on the Pest side of the city at Erzsebet Square, razing the central bus station.

With only two levels of the theatre's underground parking ramp completed, one political party kicked out the other.

Godor Klub: the happening place Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

The newcomers, infused with a sense of territorial identity, abandoned the site for another,  leaving a huge hole in the ground, a monstrous and ugly pothole: in Hungarian, "godor."

The pothole in the center of the city, however, soon morphed into the Godor Klub, the "most liberal place in Budapest," a Hungarian friend told me as we entered the site, which still looks like you could park there.

Instead, there are two music stages, a lounge and bar plus a generous arts space.

In the summer, every night there's live music from bands playing hard rock, jazz, fusion, experimental music, techno, Romany rap.

Although I claim no role as art or music critic, what I saw and heard convinced me that indeed, we were at Ground Zero of Budapest's underground scene.

Godor Klub  Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

While Godor isn't the only happening place, surely it's the largest and perhaps most permissive.

"You can smoke here (marijuana) and no one really cares," Akos told me.

There's plenty of room to chill, to take in the music up close and personal in what turns out to be an intimate venue that spills outside where hundreds of people sit, talk, drink and enjoy the out of doors.

The first night I'm there, a UNHCR-sponsored large format color photography exhibit is up showing poignant peopled scenes of a Somali United Nations refugee camp, works by Hungarian artist, R. Klenk, shown wearing a UN blue helmet and blue flack jacket, armed only with her camera.

UNHCR-sponsored photo show at Godor Klub Photo by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

Visit Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. See: www.spanjeanders.nl and www.competafinearts.com.


"Spanish life stilled," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009) 

 
ArtTraveler´s video: an interview with Scottish illustrator and painter, Gordon Wilson, about his new "I Love Fish" exhibition, inspired by a commissioned mural he did 12 years ago for a West Glasgow gangster, who loved supporting writers and artists as well as organized crime.

You may reach me at stefanvandrake@gmail.com or by calling (34) 915 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349










New York renegade writer & artist Matthew Zomick rants in Budapest

Matthew Z. Zomick & his dog Taco in Budapest Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)


28 June 2011 Budapest, Hungary

"People seem so content lost in superficial pleasures."--Matthew Z. Zomick

In Budapest for more than three years, Matthew Z. Zomick makes W.A.R. (We Are Renegades).


Matthew Z. Zomick as 'The Thinker" photo by S. van Drake (2011)

On 24 June, Zomick brought internationally known underground rap and hip-hop artist, Pharoahe Monch, from Queens, New York, to Budapest via Paris.


Monch also preaches W.A.R.
 
Zomick, a free-lance writer, poet, performance and visual artist at age 32 often probes the meaning of life, especially his.

He shares with us some of his thoughts:

"I am consumed by the internal battle of preconception and perception. What is real, what is surreal, and in the end, does any of it really matter?

"Thoughts continue to occupy my mind while I remain void of feelings. Even though this is what I write, I know this to be untrue.

"The constant battle of false acceptance, false security and distractions affect actual perception.



"Preconception vs. Perception" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Being aware is the first step, but it's not enough.

"Structure and discipline are necessary and change is inevitable."


Matthew Zomick with Knut (foreground) & Taco Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Zomick also started "Matthew's Dog Service" on Facebook, saving and rescuing and re-homing dogs. He's got 8 Russian Greyhound puppies ready for adoption in two months. He saved the mother and pups from certain death. She gave birth recently. He needs your help; his e-mail: mzomick@gmail.com.


Rock on and practice peace and love.


JesĂșs Reyes Ferreira



Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Visit sunny, warm Andalusia and experience a week-long mosaics or sculpture workshop or walking holiday. See: www.spanjeanders.nl and www.competafinearts.com.



"Symbols of Perception" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)


Contact me: stefanvandrake@gmail.com or call (34) 951 067 703; from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349.



Monday, June 27, 2011

ArtTraveler photo gallery: taggers play stencil games along Budapest's streets

"Face of Authority" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
"Slot Machine" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Deconstructing" photograph by Stefan van Drakef (2011)

"Super Power" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"I Need a Home" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"The Scream" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)


"Star Power" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Eat Me" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Piss Toy Rock" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Vote for Me or Else!" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Refuse Refugees" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Barred Art" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Flash Dancer" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Rock on and practice peace and love.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler™

Check out a sculpture or mosaics workshop or walking tour in our beautiful mountains. See: www.spanjeanders.nl and www.competafinearts.com.


"Sierra Sky," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)

Contact me at stefanvandrake@gmail.com or by calling (34) 951 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349.

New York poet and performance artist Matthew Zomick rocks in Budapest

Matthew Z. Zomick & Taco in Budapest, photo by Stefan van Drake (2011)

In his three-plus years living in Budapest, New York's Matthew Zomick makes verbal and visual waves and rocks on to his own not-so-silent rhythms.

I met him, like so many artists here, by accident on purpose.

It was Sunday's rastro or market in the old Jewish quarter in the 7th District in this highly energized central European city.

The ever-animated Zomick, who calls himself MZ Squared ("Z" is his middle initial), haggled with a Jewish gypsy vendor of vintage cameras.

"Empty Stage" photo by Stefan van Drake (2011)


"There's no way a Jew can Jew me down," said Zomick, himself Jewish.

A graduate film maker, Zomick at age 32 was leashed to two dogs, Knut (who's soon to be re-homed in Oslo) and Taco, his sweetheart of a fairly neurotic whippet, both keenly affectionate animals.

Zomick is a one-man NGO.

He established Matthew's Dog Service on Facebook, rescuing and re-homing discarded dogs with the help of a growing network of pet friendly patrons.

That was how we met.

At his flat, it became clear MZZ is multi-dimensional, a renegade, a deeply committed populist and humanist, who has survived on wit, will and invention.

His mind works nearly as fast as Google on speed.

Although he dabbles with painting, using materials picked up from the street or thrown out by pizza joints and with paints made from just about anything available, his mouth, his mind and his creative spirit remain palpable.

Matthew Zomick filling void as 'The Thinker', photo by Stefan van Drake (2011)


He's a poet and performance artist.

MZZ exclusively shares his previously unpublished poem, "Annointment" with us.

The first is "Annointment." His introduction to this poem, itself more than prose:

"Walking towards the sun...as yellow-white touches the faces of the innocent, the eagle flies freely into the celestial skies, guidance from above, while back on earth the people continue to push and shove. 

"Like a gregarious flock with no Sheppard, they roam aimlessly throughout the land and hide behind their pragmatic disguise(s). 

"Life's lessons learned tomorrow will awaken the pure emotions of yesterday and will be born again a thousand times today..."

Matthew Z. Zomick, Budapest 2011

 "Annointment"
by Matthew Z. Zomick

Confused once again, lost within the night
Attempts to disappear continue to fail
Fragile emotions dangle blind, deaf, eternal
Silence remains ackward
Hope wallows submerged in the mist
Toils of the soul bark like a rabid animal
Passion has become absent as angst remains omnipresent
No rest is near and as much as I desire peace, none shall be found
(As time continues to linger I hesitate...
I know what once was and pretend to know what will come
Lost in presence I can make no sense)

Wanton hate and divided soul
burning passion lost and extinguished
Along the way, the plans changed
Improvised fate is all that remains
Numb is the pain I dwell in


Rock on and practice peace and love.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler™

Check out a sculpture or mosaics workshop or walking tour in our beautiful mountains. See: www.spanjeanders.nl and www.competafinearts.com.


"Sierra Sky," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)

Contact me at stefanvandrake@gmail.com or by calling (34) 951 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349.

Urgent! 


Need your help. New conservative government in my village of Canillas de Albaida has started pogrom, a genocide against any cats or dogs found on the streets, which is illegal in Malaga Province. 


These neo-Fascists must be stopped; please send brief protest e-mail to ayuntamiento@canillasdealbaida.net to the attention of the Alcalde (mayor). 


It really is a matter of life and death. Thank you!!




Saturday, June 25, 2011

ArtTraveler photo gallery: Budapest's summer solstice night happenings



"Mother's Calling" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Original graphics of 'Mother' by Miss KK of Budapest
"Not Now" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Mistress of Con Fusion" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Godor" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"SF" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"The Boss" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Dave's Not Here" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Broken Record" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Budapest Collage VI" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Dare to Resist" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Time Tripping" photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Rock on and practice peace and love.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler™

Check out a sculpture or mosaics workshop or walking tour in our beautiful mountains. See: www.spanjeanders.nl and www.competafinearts.com.


"Sierra Sky," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)