I Went To Hungary Last Night

I Went To Hungary Last Night

I know, I know — this is not a picture of Hungary. It’s actually the facade of Bass Hall in Ft. Worth. It was so beautiful, I had to take a picture, although my photo doesn’t do it justice.

Only Thursday night, after I saw a book at a friend’s house, did I learn that an Irvine, California-based Hungarian artist, Márton Váro, had created it. He’s known for his work in marble, especially figures with draped fabric like this one.

But, let’s backtrack a little. This evening actually started a few months ago, at the LA Art Show. Gregg and I had left the apartment we rented in Paris in really nice condition (as always!) and the woman we’d rented it from thanked us by mailing us tickets to the art show’s opening night.

There, I was looking at some really beautiful paintings when the art dealer struck up a conversation about them, handing me his card at some point. But, he wasn’t the art dealer. His card said “Balázs Bokor,” and his job description was “Consul General of Hungary” (ambassador from Hungary to the Western states of the USA). I asked him if he was moonlighting selling paintings. No — just promoting Hungary, as always.

He’s very interesting, and lots of fun, and we’ve become friendly. I even had him give diplomatic advice one week in the short question in my column (scroll down to the second question).

Thursday night, he invited me to a Hungarian cultural program — “Living traditions and bagpipes in the Carpathian basin” — and I took my friend Sergeant Heather…one of those absolutely unsnobby class acts you can take absolutely anywhere, and more important, somebody who wouldn’t ask me “Are you HIGH?!” upon being invited to hear a program of bagpipe and native flute music (basically the sounds of randy Hungarian shepherds).

Sure enough, she had a great time, and so did I, and she even bought the bagpiper’s CD. Afterward, a bunch of us went to Balazs’ house and had drinks and sushi and talked about Europe and the U.S. and how we’re nationalizing banks here, and how amazing that is to Eastern Europeans. At some point, he broke out a book of Váro’s work and I finally learned who created that amazing building in Ft. Worth.

Oh, by the way, the evening’s bagpiper, Ferenc Tobak, is also a photographer. See some of his photographs of Romanian musicians here. See his photos of the gypsies of the eastern Carpathians here.

Who says there’s no culture in Los Angeles? You just have to be friendly and leave a Paris rental apartment like it’s your grandma’s place.