Rorschach Test: What Do You See in Michael Mistric's Work?

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Teacher, nurse practitioner, doodler and enigma, Michael L. Mistric, Ph.D. creates works that are both familiar yet cryptic.

Yes, there is a similarity to molecular and cellular biology among his works, though he didn’t stop there. The self-taught artist kept on doodling (a 25-year passion), introducing geometric forms, checkerboards and tangled Celtic knots.

What could be intestines, connective tissue, cellular matter or the digestive tract (or maybe not) are all imbued with joyfulness through his vibrant use of color. He’s sneaky in that way – not wanting to influence what the viewer perceives – using an app to generate random words when naming his pieces.

Mistric's color palette, which ranges from muted earth tones to ’70s psychedelia, is punctuated by a generous tempering of black, allowing the colors and shapes to pop.

Works on view in “The Eye of the Beholder: It's What YOU See” at Archway Gallery include paintings, plates, a pair of console tables and tabletop art in the form of 2-D squares or cubes on short black stands.

Standouts include the console tables: Both Nanoarrow and Dropperclear offer intricate oil-painted designs of tan and black, and constructed with MDF, metal and glass. Bumola, an orange-yellow-black 12-inch-square piece – constructed of acrylic, oil and metal – also is interesting, with its semicircles facing away from each other and bleeding off the canvas.

Of the ten or so oversize bamboo plates on display, Novanoid (black and terra cotta) and Voquev, with its olive shapes and triangle trains, are both sublime and affordable, priced at just $100 each.

The small, blocky cubes are playful and fun, including the pink and black Wlee, the blue-green-pink-black Kwangor and the black and red Rolobus.

While I gravitated toward those that either limited the colors to black plus one, or kept the number of colors to a handful, the collection does include some very complicated compositions for those who want to super-size their Mistrics. Birder, with its familiar geometric shapes, was lovely in its simplicity of deep salmon and black, as were the lime-infused Jukelox and the purple-blue-black Womash. Opening the color throttle just a bit, Cazoova and Johackle integrated pink, orange, green, turquoise and purple into wonderful whimsy.

Mistric first came on the arts scene in 2012 with a solo showing at Galeria Regina, though his career quickly skyrocketed. His four-paneled In the Mind’s Eye #3 was featured during 2013’s SeaFair, a Miami International Art showcase on board a luxe yacht where almost 2,000 collectors and enthusiasts clamored for the next big thing.

Professionally, Mistric is on the faculty at nursing schools and has served as a registered nurse for more than 30 years and as a nurse practitioner for almost 18 years.

There’s an opening reception on August 13 from 5 to 8 p.m., with an artist talk at 6:30 p.m. “The Eye of the Beholder: It's What YOU See” continues through September 1 at Archway Gallery, 2305 Dunlavy, open Mondays to Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays 1 to 5 p.m., 713-522-2409, archwaygallery.com. Free.

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