Three Birds With One Stone

Ron and I went to Obuda today. I missed seeing the Varga Imre Museum when I was there due to lack of small bills for the admission. The small museums could not change my 5,000 Huf note that I had on me at the time. This was our first stop. As we entered this unassuming building pawning itself off as a museum, a gracious woman attendant walked us to the cashier’s desk and then spewed off Hungarian. Ron said in Hungarian that we spoke English. She then said “Free” and waved us on. Puzzled by this, the sign on the wall shows the tickets are 500 Huf, but we took advantage of our good luck. Imre Varga became an artist by accident. He was a graduate of the Military Academy with a degree is aeronautics. He served in WW II, where he met the sculpture artist Pál Pátyai. Due to this accidental meeting, he applied to the College of Fine Arts, launching his career. His sculptures range from the size of coins to greater than life. His work is mostly done in metals and exhibited in public places in natural environments. The work is exquisitely executed with various metals, some flat, but bent areas while others parts are hammered to create designs. The museum has an extraordinary collection of his work, considering he has other works decorating many parts of the world. I was told he is one of the most important current artists in Hungary and now I have a great appreciation as to why. Strangely, the only reading available was in Hungarian, but the titles of each piece were in Hungarian and German or Hungarian and French. The second stop was not as impressive. It was the Kassák Museum. Located on the first floor of an old palace, when we entered we were received, not greeted by a dour faced woman who looked upon us as intruders. After she regretfully accepted our 150 Huf each for entry, we toured the large room we had entered. Most of the paintings and sculptures displayed in this room were reminiscent of American Folk Art, being very crude and rustic in style. There was nothing to read to explain the works. Being that I appreciate American primitive art, I did have a sense of appreciation for some of the pieces. The second room, however, was more modern art leaning toward Pop or Op art styles, which leave me cold. To the right of the major room one first enters is the reason for the museum’s existence. It is the collection of Lajos Kassák’s own works. We were given a laminated sheet to do a self-tour, but the explanation of the importance of having a museum was absent. Kassák it seems was a rebel who started an avant-garde journal, but had to flee the country. He recreated his journal in Austria and later returned to Hungary. He was a writer and painter, but with the absence of meaningfully explanations, the displays were just a collection of old journals sitting behind glass shelters. Even after researching this author/artist, I could not find much in English to sweeten my impression of the museum. As we left, we thanked Ms. Sourpus with syrupy sweet smiles, but we might as well have been the last Russians leaving the country for the response we received in return. The final straw, oops, I mean the final museum visit of the day was the Óbudai Museum. It is diagonal to the Kassák Museum. The sign outside shows the hours as 10 – 6 Tuesday through Friday and 10 – 2 on Saturday. Today was Thursday and it was only 2 pm. There is a buzzer to ring to enter, but after doing so, we realized the door was already open. Standing behind a desk stood a startled looking woman and a man appeared from somewhere on the left with a suspicious look on his face. If the desk were not covered with brochures and the walls with seemingly exhibits, I would have run out to check if we were in the museum or if we had broken and entered someone’s home. The woman asked us in Hungarian what we wanted. I responded with “museum”. She immediately became flustered and dug threw her desk drawer looking for tickets. For some reason, we needed two each, though we were the only visitors. Since they had nothing in English, the man volunteered to be our guide. With his 20 words of English and our 40 words of Hungarian, we managed. To state a theme for this museum would limit its scope. The general theme was Óbuda and all that represented in the past. In one area, old Roman ruins are visible, yet next to them are old pieces of ceramic dishes that date to the 1800s. If hodge-podge were a theme, this would be it. He took us into a room and said it was a German family’s bedroom. The next room was a German family’s kitchen. Along the long corridor we walked down to enter these rooms, there were assorted artifacts of naval pieces, coins, and other assorted things. There were also more rooms to visit, but our guide suddenly said “Finished” and motioned for us to leave. We had the sense that they were planning to play hooky today and we disrupted the escape. He saw us to the door. By this time, we were on sensory overload, so we were grateful, but we still wanted to see what was behind door number 3. Perhaps another time!