Paradise Found Paradise Lo$t

STORY BY Vicky Victoria

Published: August 18, 2013

"Paradise Found Paradise Lo$t", a documentary in the making by Conrad Stojak, inspires to examine the lives of Austrian pop artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and a man who re-discovered one of his greatest works, Chris Muth. Filming on and off over the past 4 years, Conrad has seen Chris attempt to transform himself into Hundertwasser, and Conrad’s life in return has become an obsession of these two men.  

Inspired by the documentary Who the *$&% Is Jackson Pollock?, and art dealer Tod Volpe’s rags to riches tale, Conrad jumped at the opportunity to tell the tale of Chris, a contractor given a two ton mural from a Synagogue only to discover it was painted by Hundertwasser, an iconic Austrian figure, potentially worth millions of dollars. Chris, who was already working on the Synagogue's exterior separately at the time, used his men and equipment to extract the 16' x 9' - two ton mural and deliver it by boat crane to a storage facility for safe keeping. Untold thousands of dollars borrowed from friends and family with the saga continuing years later, Chris still has the painting in storage in Brooklyn despite having numerous offers to purchase it, extending into the millions. 

However, believing there is something greater to discover, anything under ten million does not seem enough for Chris. The now white bearded altruistic son of a UN Diplomat, says his goal is to raise enough money for African children's need for water, a foundation to help citizens all over the world and biomorphic bomb proof islands to preserve the history of man which is on a collision course with war. Hundertwasser himself, believed in sustainable life styles, was an environmental activist and architectural green pioneer ( His paintings reflected his beliefs: bright colors, no straight lines, organic forms, and humans in nature; the contrary he believed only caused misery found in modern society.


What happens though when ego gets in the way? 

There is an uncanny similarity between Teri Horton (Who the *$&% Is Jackson Pollock?) and Chris Muth. Both came from obscurity, thrust into the limelight by a strange set of circumstances, believed that their lives would be eternally altered by the fame and notoriety their circumstances brought them, and the wealth they envisioned for themselves. Somewhat delusional, both thought they would become fabulously wealthy over night. Horton wanted to buy a new Cadillac and drive to Alaska never to be seen again. Muth wants to save the world. 

In truth, this is a metaphor for an even greater story we can easily call The Dark Side of The American Dream.

In the light of the dream, everyone gets what they want, in the darkness everyone loses. In the light, everyone learns something, in the darkness, they forget everything they learned to that point in time. The road to hell is often paved with good intentions. 

When Mr. Stojak came on the scene, I’m sure he didn’t realize it was going to be One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. To him, he was holding up a camera to an interesting situation with a character who was compelling as all filmmakers do. However pretty soon, reality set in. He became surrounded by Chris' storm: mis-dealings, accusations, lawsuits, unscrupulous filmmakers trying to steal the film, bamboozling him into believing of untold Hollywood fortunes and even death threats from his former business partner to get the painting back. Chris Muth didn’t have a pot to piss in and Conrad found himself at the center of a cyclone, trying to protect Chris from himself while getting to the heart of the truth, being bumped, bruised and accused along the way too. In a word, Chris is more interesting with the painting than without it. 

"Paradise Found, Paradise Lo$t" is also just as much about Conrad's experiences trying to remain neither as friend or foe during this difficult journey, holding onto the principals of being a true documentarian as best as he can, narrating and starring in the film himself, revealing his troubles and doubts to an audience of would be filmmakers, warning them how anything can get out of hand as he stumbles through the wilderness alone with camera in hand, unsure where the documentary ends, shooting on a shoestring budget to boot. 

Now Conrad is living hand to mouth all for the sake of Chris Muth’s eccentricity and an Austrian visionary who is probably laughing from beyond the grave as Chris is now ironically going against what Hundertwasser stood for. Striving to stay in the light, and achieve the dream through hard work and perseverance, Conrad is raising funds on indiegogo to take the saga of Hundertwasser's life to a place that even the artist himself could not have envisioned. 

To be continued....

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