Balatonalmadi, Hungary / by Christine Longoria

I've been in Balatonalmadi for three weeks, a small lake town about an hour southeast of Budapest. I think the town is confused by my presence. All the other summer tourists have left - but for some reason that American girl is still here...

It's a curious town because it's so idealic - the ice cream shop, the jovial German baker, the kids on bikes, the old people sitting on benches. The houses are large, I'd classify most as mansions, with ornate wood detailing and large panel windows. The town center is right out my door, with a couple of little restaurants and shops, and the train station. On the other side of the tracks is a sculpture park, tennis courts, and the lake. Lake Balaton is the one of the largest lakes in Europe, I believe the largest in Eastern Europe. They call it a "sweetwater" lake. I did notice something a little more off today. Kind of eerie. Walking home from the farmers market I passed a locked and gated camp site. 20-30 small cabins. They're cute, each had a small patio and eaves. But something about the symmetry. Each was a perfect rectangular cube, doors and windows in the same place on every one, all facing south; and lined, one directly behind the other, in two long columns. I guess any campsite could look like this, and considering this is a popular summer destination, I shouldn't assume. But knowing the history of Hungary in the context of the Nazi and communist regimes, I can't help but wonder if it was built for another purpose. 

Anyways, I'm living at AlmadiART, a ceramic, glass, and concrete art studio. I'll be here for another 6 weeks. It's a gorgeous facility, my studio fills with natural light during the day, and has views of the garden. Every now and then a horse drawn carriage will trot by (seriously though, Twilight Zone?). About a year ago I decided to seek out an art residency in Europe, and found this one. I never thought an opportunity like this would be available to me, as a broke artist. But I'm actually saving a significant amount of money by living here for three months rather than in Los Angeles. The exchange rate is strongly in my favor.

So I'm excited and thankful to be here, in this perfect and slightly eerie little town. Being able to devote myself fully to my art is a privilege, and I'm excited to see what my hands can create when I have all the time and resources. 

- CL