Tuesday, July 26, 2011

ArtTraveler photo gallery: the people I leave behind, but who remain with me

I arrived in Budapest a blank canvas.
I leave as a colorful palette, a collage of personalities who impacted me deeply--fusion art.
We become our experiences; we paint on our psyche.
As I return to Spain 26 July, having arrived in Hungary on 17 June, I leave these giving and generous, intelligent, talented and compassionate people behind.
But they are always with me. 
This is the epiphany of travel and social intercourse, universal forces bonding us as humans. 
And I am forever bonded with Hungary and those people who made it possible for me to write their stories, including others whose pictures I did not take but whose contributions loom large like Reka Deim, good friends Adam, Akos and Kinga, who introduced me to the Budapest underground.
And Raymond at the Barladino, whose intelligence and humanity I will always admire and remember.
It will take months to figure out what happened to me here. 
While I searched for the Hungarian soul, I also sought my own to redefine my role as a human being for what time remains on this planet.
This quest continues unabated, although most of it I must accomplish through phone interviews and wonders of the Internet as funds are very limited.
But not my spirit or my will or my intensity.
Each of these people painted something on that blank canvas, left a footprint, an impression, created lasting images. 
They gave freely of themselves.
All but three I knew cara a cara, face to face, some more intensely than others.
The three people whose images and lives remain a wonder and who for me are blank canvases on which I shall think and paint are the old man sitting in the milleu of what was billed as a violent anti-gay pride parade protest at Oktogon Square in Budapest on 18 June.
He self-published his memoirs as an Hungarian slave laborer in the Soviet Gulag, one of few who survived Stalin's horrific regime.
He shared his story, solemnly and quietly while madness raged around him.
Was he the real protest, a silent beacon against extremism?
The second is a white-bearded man with a broadly carved face time did not forget to mark with its humanity and no doubt pain. 
He stood for a couple of hours through the dedication ceremony of a bronze statue of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, unveiled and hearalded at Heroes Square in Budapest in June.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, he quietly took out a small, older American flag and waved it once or twice, slowly, deliberately, then quietly put it away, out of sight.
But not out of mind. 
His gesture appeared genuine, unrehearsed.

The third, a solitary woman who frequented the same bench in the Old Jewish Quarter of Budapest (7th District).
She appeared linked to the life of pigeons in this small park memorializing 63,000 Hungarian Holocaust victims, feeding these birds.

And then there are the two goats, Tunde (phon. Toon-day), nicknamed Uzike (Oo-zee-ke), pictured left in my photo, with her son, Csongor (pron. Chun-gor). (Both names are Hungarian poetic figures.)
I've become good friends with them, especially Uzike.
In February or earlier, I return to Szentendre (20 kilometers north of Budapest) for a month. 
Documentary art photographers Katona Betti and Hajtmanszki Zoltan and two of their three children will live in my home in the mountains of Andalusia, I in theirs.
Ozike and I will become much closer as I will be milking her four or five times daily.
Each day in this troubled nation of brilliant intellectuals and artists, I experienced a new color, a different brush stroke and a lasting impression. 

Budapest contemporary sculptor Villo Turcsany Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Hajtmanszki  Barnabas (Barnus) Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Contemporary painter and sculptor  Csizmadi Balazs
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Hajtmanszki Rebeka Klara (Beki) reading a book at home Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Edina Deme, art historian for the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest, and her best new friend, puppy Machow (phon.)
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

"Woman on Bench Contemplating Pigeons" Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Ocztos Istvan, President of the Kuratorium
Photograph by Stefan van Van Drake (2011)

Uncle Bela, renown, well-respected poet from Szentendre, a man for all seasons
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Ef Zambo Istvan, one of Hungary's most important artists with admirer in Szentendre
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Kecskes Robin, artist member of the Forgasz Group in Szentendere
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Ozike and her son, right, Csongor
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Szentendre artist and musician and drinking colleague, Zarubay Bence
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Kicsiny Balazs, Budapest-based internationally known contemporary sculptor and art academic
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

U.K. painter Andy Austin in Budapest, who organized on Facebook an exhibition of international artists to benefit cancer research at the Budapest Gallery 29 Kertesz Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Documentary art photographer and flaneur Hajtmanszki Zoltan, a profound thinker and doer
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Documentary art photographer Katona Bernadette Marta (Betti) and flaneur. Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Hajtmanszki Betti-Szolans (Bindi), 18 months of humanity and love
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Szentendre gallerist Laszlo Erdesz Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Szentendre artist, writer and dramatist Fulop Andras
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Quiet senital against madness, selling self-published book on his life as slave lasborer in Soviet Gulag
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Fitz Peter, curator, museum director & Hungary's foremost expert on the nation's contemporary art
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Deim Balazs, photographer and member of the Szentendre Forgasz Group of  contemporary artists
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Acrylic painter Kuryi taking one of her poses at Gobo Sunday market, 7th District, Budapest
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Matthew Z. Zomick, Budapest-based New York poet and performance artist with Taco
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Gergely Barki, chief curator and organizer of "The Eight" exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Albrecht Emese, contemporary artist and fine art photographer; also, Hungary's hottest fashion designer
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)
Horst from Germany, who lives in Szentendre with his Hungarian lady & Harley
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Old man who quietly waved American flag at June dedication of Ronald Reagan statue, Hero's Square, Budapest
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

Szentendre-based performance artist Kecskes Tibor
Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)

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

ArtTraveler note:

After living at the Hotel Queen Mary in Budapest (3.5 stars), I heartily recommend it: old on the outside, otherwise totally modern (23 rooms); 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 affable 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 "I Love Fish" exhibition, inspired by a commissioned mural he did 13 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

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