Norbert Szilagyi spent the winter of 1956 in an Austrian refugee camp, after he and his mother and sister had quietly slipped out of their village in southern Hungary.
Trudging through snow-blanketed forests on moonlit nights, they slept in the homes of compassionate country folk along the way. His mother bribed Russian soldiers at river crossings with vodka and coins.
Arriving at a canal, they were rowed to Austria by a waiting fisherman and soon found their way to the refugee camp. Six months later they were crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
Norbert was two years old at the time.
Since then he has served in the U.S. Navy , received a degree in Art History with a minor in Studio Arts from Kent State University, lived in southeast Asia and have been ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist Monk.
Today he lives and works as an artist in Key West, taking sabbaticals to study and retreat in monasteries. As the Dalai Lama said, “to renounce the world means that you give up your attachment to it, not that you have to separate yourself from it”.
Norbert’s art, too, has come a long way. Thirty years ago, he first put his brush to a public city bench on Southard Street, creating a spark that ignited the present wave of interest in art in public places here. Norbert’s latest art, recently described by Mark Howell in ARTnews as “artistic meditations on men and women,” have attracted a surge of inquiries from galleries around the country.