Sunday, March 14, 2010

Things Unraveling

Is there any image that so perfectly illustrates chaos and the complete loss of control as someone whose umbrella has flipped inside out and is desperately attempting to position themselves in such a way as to have the catastrophic winds blow it back into place? I saw it happen to a woman the other night in Manhattan. I've never seen someone look so distraught and defeated. It was right outside Penn Station, and I got the feeling that this umbrella represented something far more significant in her life than protection from the elements. She couldn't get it to flip back into its intended convex position. I had to look away.

On Regret...

In fourth grade, we had a classroom based spelling bee in order to determine who would advance to the highly esteemed school-wide spelling bee. I wanted in, but I spelled 'lightning' wrong. I forgot the first 'n' and spelled 'lighting'. You gotta be fuckin kidding me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Heads Up, Son.

It's safe to say I'm a germaphobic - at least in the sense that I'm utterly terrified at the prospect of being sneezed on by a stranger. Not a few times have I found myself forcefully exhaling in an effort to avoid ingesting the airborne terror emitted from the nostrils and mouths of the unknown. Working in New York City, this is hardly a rare occurrence - my ducking for cover as the liquid based expulsions of the sick careen carelessly above my head. It's something you have to deal with. Like maintaining a minimum distance from suspect looking, shirtless individuals in the summertime. Don't get me wrong; I love taking my shirt off. But not in midtown Manhattan. Time and place, baby. Be appropriate.

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Work 09

Paintings. Eric Mistretta. 2009.

Sounds Great
17" x 19"
Postcards, Synthetic Lei, Wood

Imagine My Surprise
17" x 19"
Postcards, Mixed Media, Wood

Seriously, Thanks
17" x 19"
Postcards, Balloons, Wood

Everyone That's Anyone
79" x 32"
Mixed Media on Door

I'm Psyched, You?
77" x 28"
Gift Bow, Mixed Media on Door

I Wouldn't Worry About It
24" x 18"
Oil, Wax, Charcoal, Mixed Media on Canvas

Everyone Was Asking For You
24" x 18"
Oil, Burlap, Charcoal, Synthetic Lei on Canvas

19" x 14"
Postcard, Vinyl Letters on Wood

You Shouldn't Have
20" x 16"
Gift Bows, Vinyl Letters, Plexiglass Box

Knock 'Em Dead
20" x 16"
Metallic Cellophane, Vinyl Letters, Plexiglass Box

Hang In There
20" x 16"
Iridescent Garland, Vinyl Letters, Plexiglass Box

How Do I Look?
62" x 44"
Oil, Charcoal, Ash, Mixed Media on Canvas

Get Over It
60" x 36"
Oil, Burlap, Mixed Media on Canvas

No No OK Fine
62" x 44"
Oil, Tinsel, Mixed Media on Canvas

We're Getting There
60" x 60"
Oil, Charcoal, Mixed Media on Canvas

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Assorted Fruit

I recently came across these photographs. I took them at my apartment in Italy when I lived there for a short stint. The fruit from the market was particularly exceptional and outrageously cheap, so we usually had an abundance of it. As a result, some of it was designated for mutilation.

This little series was presumably the result of a potent combination of boredom and general absurdity. But I think the lighting is pretty charming. Click on 'em. They get nice and big.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Used To Have A Snake

Yes, it's true. His name was Malachi. That's him pictured above, desperately trying to escape the paparazzi flash of my camera by burrowing into the armpit of my girlfriend. I'm calling him "him" when in reality I have no idea what the gender of this serpent was. I forgot to ask when I impulsively bought him one day, undoubtedly under the influence of alcohol, from Sue's Zoo Pet Store in the Stop & Shop plaza of New Paltz, New York. And aside from that, I never made any attempts to find out for myself, as I was sure they would necessarily involve turning the snake upside down which, in Malachi's case, was out of the question.

This snake did not care for me. And reasonably so as it could sense that I bought it for no other reason than novelty. I had no deep seated interest in the species, nor in the reptile world in general, but rather I did enjoy the graphic appeal of its concentric black and white stripes and the fact that, according to Sue, "it eats other snakes". Also (and in retrospect this may have been the primary driving force behind my ultimate decision to get Malachi), I very much wanted to name something.

Malachi ate mice. Or rather, these things were so tiny and barely alive that I don't even think they qualified as mice yet. (Guess where I stand on abortion). He did not allow me to watch him devour these little guys, but unbeknownst to him, I was hiding behind my closet door 95% of the time doing just that. There was even one time when I could have sworn that, with a mouth stuffed entirely full of the upper torso of a baby mouseling, Malachi peered through the crack between the door and the wall and looked me dead in the eye, Tell Tale Heart style. But I must have been mistaken, or at least he didn't care about me, because he went right along snacking.

We had some decent times together, I suppose. Once I let him slither around on my carpet for awhile, which he seemed to enjoy as much as a snake can enjoy something. He even had a starring role in a sculptural installation I created on campus.
But mostly it was just me using him for temporary bouts of personal satisfaction. Malachi was not that special to me.

SPOILER ALERT: Malachi is dead.

One cool, Autumn morning I awoke to find that my snake's house, a large rectangular tank of glass, was without a snake. Malachi was not big, perhaps a little over a foot long (probably one of the reasons I was hardly able to take him seriously), and the possibility of his escaping from his tank seemed highly unlikely. But alas, his absence stated otherwise. I looked everywhere. I looked in spots there was no way he could be. And nothing. I had to go to sleep that night with the knowledge that at any point in time, I could awake to the feeling of a cannibalistic reptilian worm forcing its way into my mouth, ears, nose or worse. And I had to go to sleep with that knowledge for TWO WHOLE MONTHS, because Malachi was nowhere to be found.

Life became simpler. I accepted Malachi as dead. My grieving process was not lengthy. Sixty days essentially afforded me the opportunity to forget about him completely. I ceased to speak his name, moved on with my life, and focused more on my human relationships. Part of that focus entailed written correspondences with several of my geographically distant friends. Upon completing a letter one day, I went upstairs to my room seeking an envelope. Casually, I strolled over to my storage bin where I kept them, opened the drawer, and looked inside to find coiled upon my box of envelopes the hate filled, cyclindrical, and very alive body of Malachi who, immediately upon seeing me, let out a hiss so piercing and shrill I almost went into cardiac arrest.

I shut the drawer.

Geting Malachi out of that storage bin was the definition of a nightmare. Apparently bitter about not having eaten in over 60 days, he was being less than cooperative. I eventually wrangled him out and disgustedly placed him in the inhospitable confines of a cardboard shoebox into whose cover I had crudely and incompassionately stabbed a one inch hole so this wretched creature could breathe.

Our relationship pretty much deteriorated after that. It was quite evident that neither of us had any love for each other. I told Malachi I never wanted to see him again and gave him to my friend Hilary. He persisted for awhile, living the bitter life of a snake who spent two months in a plastic storage cube without nourishment. And now, according to Hilary, he is dead. I'd like to say I miss him but... yeah, I don't.

Oh, How Things Change

Remember when it used to be cool to NOT have a Facebook account? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't one of these rowdy young chaps whose disdain for the mass appeal of internet based social networking outweighed their desire to tag themselves in photos. Now, though, these naysayers are few and far between, and the seldom heard, brazen confession of "I'm not on Facebook" is generally met with a variety of facial expressions ranging from misunderstanding to sheer horror and disgust.

That is not to say that all individuals without a FB account should be persecuted by means of the stinkeye, though. Pardons should surely be granted, especially in these potential cases:

1. You are older (I don't know what older means. Just significantly older.)
2. You used to have a Facebook account and deleted it due to any of the following reasons:
-You genuinely hated it
-You added a stranger as a friend, developed a relationship with them via the site, decided to meet them in person, and were subsequently raped or unwillingly fondled
-You were fired from your job due to the unexpected appearance of photographs of you making yourself throw up
3. You are blind and do not dabble in computers

Aside from these reasons, though, one cannot be aggressively blamed for inquiring why you have chosen not to join the rest of the 350 million folks who awake in the morning with an array of tagging, posting, poking, liking, commenting, updating and viewing on their to do list.

Friday, November 20, 2009

An Impending Dilemma

Since the year 2000, we have enjoyed the luxury of wearing glasses that are shaped like the numbers of whatever year it is on New Year's Eve.

The symmetrical perfection afforded to us by the two adjacent zero's in the middle of the numbers has left us spoiled. It was one less thing to worry about for the coming 12 months. We got comfortable, we felt a sense of security.

*Living in the moment

But now, as December 31st rapidly approaches, along with it comes a challenge to the very foundation of our great American tradition: 2010. Not unlike the buildup towards Y2K, the knowledge that our eyes will no longer fit naturally into the middle of the coming year is sowing seeds of anxiety into the minds of this nation. And rightfully so. How do we expect to harvest any form of success in our resolutions if we cant wear the year on our face as we watch the ball drop? The prospects look grim.

*He senses it...

Surely in this country of innovators, design teams are working around the clock to come up with something to rescue us from this inhospitable reality. Yes, some prototypes exist, but I'm afraid to think that's as good as it's gonna get.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Some Thoughts On...

Shooting a Deer
Having lived in New Paltz for five years of my life, quite a few times did I find myself enjoying a leisurely drive through the mountainous outskirts, peacefully careening around the tree-lined bends, and happily enjoying the picturesque scenery that surrounded me, only to be thrust into temporary panic mode upon being forced to recklessly swerve my car directly off the road in an effort to avoid hitting a usually large, adorable, and presumably retarded deer.

Behind their huge, solid color, cartoonishly handsome eyeballs is a brain that prevents this unfortunate mammal from understanding the potential consequences of being struck by a speeding vehicle. It's almost as if they are daring you to hit them. But when it comes down to it, nobody wants to deal with the reality of crashing into a deer. I've been fortunate enough to avoid such a fate thus far, but that is not to say I haven't seen many a destroyed front bumper from a highway run-in with these wobbly-legged creatures.

I'll come right out and say it. I like the look of an animal's head hanging on a wall. No decorative sconce or tastefully framed landscape painting can fill a room with the rustic esteem imparted by the suspended head of a decapitated bear, or the majestic protuberance of a smiling moose face. These are one of a kind accouterments for your wall that are quite simply in a league of their own. Now at this point you may be saying to yourself, "Eric, you piece of shit. I thought you were an animal lover." And you are right, because yes I am. But as I have little to no control over the untimely demise of these unfortunate, sometimes endangered creatures, I have no choice but to bypass the grieving stage and embrace what remains of them as unique decorations for the home.

Now when it comes to deer, there's no denying (even for the most utterly devoted of conservationists) that this particular animal is vastly overpopulated. Strolling about wherever they like, eating my friend Marc's bushes in his backyard, deer appear to have no respect for anyone. And while nobody is particularly interested in hitting a deer with their car, there are an inordinate amount of people attracted to the idea of shooting one with a gun. Many would not think twice about settling the crosshair of a high caliber rifle directly over Bambi's heart and sending a streamlined chunk of metal speeding into their internal organs. I can't say that if given the chance I'd pass up on this interesting opportunity either. I'd like to think though, that I'd be somewhat selective about the deer that I killed. Preferably it would be one that is not very well liked in the deer community. Boring, inconsiderate, perhaps counterproductive to general deer well-being. This is the one I would take down. And I would hang his head over my couch, where he could finally be of some use to someone.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Bjorn Identity

It would appear that in today's society, there is no shortage of ways to transport a small child from one place to another. Whether it be fastened to a plastic seat on the back of a speeding bicycle or yanked down the block on the end of a nylon leash, people are getting their young ones where they need to go. As of late though, I have been noticing a particularly high volume of what are referred to as Baby Bjorns - fabric contructions strapped around the torso of the parent, into which an infant is tucked like a small, fleshy cocktail wiener.

The Baby Bjorn is designed to simulate an infant's two favorite feelings: suffocation and claustrophobia. By wrapping them up in the fabric like a little vacuum-sealed ribeye, the parent of the child is able to naturally sedate them into a state of catatonic docility. Assuming the carrier feels comfortable having a miniature human being dangling from their sternum, this should generally work out to be a win-win for everyone involved.

I must say though, that even in this modern era where the line between male and female responsibility has become ambiguously blurred, there is something slightly bizarre to me about the sight of a full grown man wearing a Baby Bjorn. Working in Manhattan, this is hardly an uncommon phenomenon for me to witness, and generally the male carrier fits a startlingly similar description. Skin the color of wall primer, earth-toned cargo shorts, sandals constructed of a troubling number of straps, a tucked-in T-shirt (also earth-toned) bearing the logo of his favorite ski lodge or Northeast vacation spot, and glasses. We can only assume that before heading down to the corner store to pick up the Sunday Times, this man dines on a bowl of Kashi (with rice milk). Intermediate yoga undoubtedly follows. It's a sight to behold.

*Big surprise.

One is led to ponder the possible long term effects of these various modes of transportation. Will the leash baby later struggle with her inexplicable inclination to fetch? Will the Bjorn baby develop a sadomasochistic fascination with smothering? And will Daddy up there find the cage-free organic eggs his wife requested? There's just no way of knowing. But there's little debate about one aspect of the situation. They all look ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Shame

So yesterday, I canceled my gym membership. I could list a bunch of somewhat legitimate reasons why, and rationalize the decision from a financial standpoint, but you would find that if you squinted your eyes, and looked at the text out of focus, my explanation would just reveal a hidden picture of a vagina. Don't worry ladies, I'm not referring to the fibromuscular tubular tract leading from the uterus to the exterior of your body. I'm talking about the ones that do things like wait for the walk signal to cross the street, or throw gardening parties.

My definitive action was the result of a two month, exercise free hedonism binge, during which I essentially payed the New York Sports Club $65 a month so I could eat pasta with butter three nights a week and drink six packs of Bud Heavys like they were Evian.

Upon entering the gym, I approached the front desk like a puppy who had just soiled the freshly installed carpet of its master's bedroom. The trainer who was working the entrance, a woman of maybe 45 whose build made mine look like that of Stephen Hawking, reached out to scan my membership card, which I had instinctively offered to her and then upon remembering why I came, had to pull away and put in my pocket like an infant trying to get into a nightclub with a fake ID. "I'm sorry," I said. "I actually need to speak with someone about canceling my membership." It would be difficult to describe the facial expression she made upon hearing this timid declaration, but it seemed to convey a harmonious blend of pity and disgust. "Just have a seat for a minute," she said.

For the next five to seven minutes I sat on a bench and watched people work out. Waves of patheticism and shame surged through my bloodstream and caused my vision to blur. "This is wrong," I thought. "What the hell am I doing?" And just as I was about to make a run for it, the voice of a rhinoceros bellowed at me from behind. "Eric?" Jesus Christ. I turned to see what can best be described as a well toned elephant with slicked back hair and a clipboard. "Yes," I squeaked. "I'm Eric."

"O.K., come on back to my office."

At this point I was so overwhelmed with guilt and self-loathing that my brain switched to auto-pilot. I was no longer in control of what came out of my mouth, and began responding to questions I didn't have any answers to.

"Why are you canceling your membership?"
"I'm moving. To Italy."
"How did you feel about your time at New York Sports Club?"
"I like going to the gym."

The next thing I know I am signing a piece of paper which, to paraphrase, said something along the lines of: I hereby confirm that I cannot handle the responsibilities of being a real man, and am consciously making the decision to hand in not only my membership card, but any semblance of respect once regarded towards me by this establishment."

Writing my signature made me come back to reality a little bit.
"Have a good time overseas," he said.
"What? Oh, right, thanks."

And with that I dragged myself out of this house of physical improvement, and with my tail between my legs, went home to have a snack.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Plan Of Attack

If you're like me, you like to gauge what objects in the room could be used to kill an intruder in your home. At any given moment, some hooded crook is liable to saunter in your personal space wielding anything from a gun to a general lack of common courtesy. And thus one must be ready to access their utilitarian logic and employ a line of defense using the inanimate objects that are proximally available to them.

Could I kill someone with my hardcover edition of
Garfield's 30th Anniversary: 30 Years of Laughs and Lasagna, I begin to wonder? To what extent could I injure a full grown individual using that unopened package of Double Stuffed Oreos? These are the questions you need to start asking yourself, because if you are finishing up some late night pilates in your room, and in bursts a deranged, chaffing Meth maniac brandishing a scimitar, you are gonna wanna be able to grab a pair of socks, a #2 pencil and a hanger and take care of business without having to think about it.

Will you be ready to deal with this when you least expect it?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Some Things I Wish I Liked

Tuna Melts - Right off the bat, anything covered with melted American Cheese is a big draw for me. The creamy, buttery, overly processed taste is something that resonates as both nostalgic and amazing. And little chunks of celery. I like the idea of this. If I liked tuna melts I would order them from the diner every time. But I don't like the taste of canned tuna! WTF.

Dancing With The Stars - Car wreck-style attraction. Check. Celebrities making fools of themselves. Check. Seemingly intoxicated and/or mentally impaired judges. Check. You meet three of my biggest standards for TV watching, Danicing WIth The Stars! And yet for some reason I just can't commit to you! As much as it seems like you should be a part of my life there's just something about watching you that makes me feel like I'm getting stitches.

Brussel Sprouts - One of my more frustrating struggles. I'm right on the cusp with these guys. If there's any chance of me winning the battle here, though, they need to be charred as hell (at least on the outside) and covered in something that makes them taste like not what they are.

You Might Wanna Read...

Death in Venice
by Thomas Mann

This short, chilling tale shines a spotlight on Thomas Mann's uncanny ability to craft luxurious, velvety prose. The words feel like they are practically melting into each other as he examines the lustful nature of human beings and their insatiable urge to pursue that which they desire. Unfortunately, in this case, it's an old man desiring to fellate a little boy named Tadzio. But once you come to terms with that, you are immersed in a haunting portrait of a Venice that Mann paints so vividly.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Mars Volta at Roseland Ballroom

I feel comfortable saying the Mars Volta is my favorite band. And while that doesn't necessarily entail that I feel like listening to them all the time, it does mean that they get my blood boiling like no other. Let's examine some adjectives. Terrifying, sexy, chest pounding, spicy, apocalyptic. These are qualities that resonate in my sternum when the Volta is tearing a track apart. Their ability to navigate back and forth between the cataclysmic and the serene is executed with such nail biting sauciness it's almost too much to handle.

I saw them last night at the Roseland Ballroom, and I'm not gonna lie. I have some issues. First, they were almost forty minutes late. Tardiness, regardless of my blind devotion, is hardly appreciated. Second, and I don't know if I can bestow the full brunt of this blame on the Volta, it was too loud. I feel like I've seen shows at Roseland before where it was the same situation. Granted, the Mars Volta does not necessarily pride themselves on quietude. But perhaps there is some sweaty, drooling techie behind the controls that can be accused for the auditory assault my ear canals were subjected to. Maybe he accidentally pushed the volume lever up when he was reaching for his fruit leather, and then fell asleep in a folding chair. We'll never know.

I took these shots while standing on my tippy toes attempting to see over the human-giraffe hybrids that peppered the crowd. The Volta is notorious for weird backdrops, which as you can see, this time featured a pile of wings with eyes and some sort of Mayan professional wrestler with fish skeletons protruding from behind his head. Good stuff.

Some New Things

I've recently been doing some works on paper, which allows me to work on a smaller scale than what I'm used to. These pieces also incorporate text, which in this case manifests in the form of somewhat ambiguous one liners. While I have certain scenarios in my head when I write them, they essentially become fragments of stories which the viewer has the freedom to fabricate upon viewing them. The colors are a departure for me, and I'm trying to keep the abstract imagery both sparse and evocative. I'll post some more soon. Feedback encouraged as always.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Richard Prince

Richard Prince basically started out by clipping jewelry and fashion ads from the New York Times, removing the text, and passing them off as his own. Interestingly, people were tickled by this. And they wanted Richard to tickle them more. So he also started making some of the most straightforward but incredibly stylized text-based paintings I have ever seen. And they're huge, as you can see above. Then there's the nurses. They're kind of take it or leave it. I'll take it.