Twice Upon a Time

Odds and Ends Series, No. 93

  • Size: 14″ x 14″ x 1.5″
  • Substrate: Canvas
  • Medium: Oil pen on Acrylic

I held on to this piece for years. I’m not sure why I did, but the sketch of this laid barren without paint, and over time through all the cities and storage spaces and apartments, this piece gathered a smearing cloud of graphite that blurred throughout it’s entirety. In my head, when I envisioned a book about this, (before there was even an idea that I’d have a retrospective book at my age) this was to be the cover.

Finally at the near end of the project I fished through the myriad of unfinished works to find this painting. Even though this wasn’t the cover, this held strongly in my heart about what this book would be about.


.. and not just any art, but fine art.

Thats the thing about the art world. There is such a great divide between the commercial art world and fine art world. I believe it comes down to the presence of content and context, and often as commercial artists we are seen as lacking both (and we aren’t).

I remember when I had moved back from Los Angeles to San Francisco a few years ago. I was with a new group of artist friends that I had recently met. They had invited me out to this DIY gallery filled with yarn sculptures and abstract paintings… all which I heavily enjoyed. When I was introduced to some of the artists in the gallery, a guy from the new group had said “This is Tennessee and he’s an artist too…. well… not really.. He’s not really an artist, he works for Disney”.

It took me a few minutes to feel offended because I was just confused why someone would introduce me as such. It was almost like finding a bruise that hurt, but the incident of getting the bruise was a mystery. I left the gallery shortly, and never returned the calls from the guy who said those words… .after all.. why be comrades with a fellow artist who doesn’t think you are an artist?

See.. thats the thing about TENxTENxTEN. It isn’t just about Mickey Mouse… its about so much more than that. It’s about bridging the gap between commercial art and fine art and showing the world that these two things can coexist together. It’s about showing that a character such as the lovable and memory inspiring Mickey Mouse can transcend its commercial state into something so much more. This book was about not just that, but that Mickey can swim in multiple universes beyond the park and the product… and in fact TENxTENxTEN’s sole purpose was to focus the icon as an anchor that swims in the universes of cultures, cities, art movements, memories, emotions, senses, and everything in between.

When I look at this piece, I see the bold statement ART, and that in itself is far more complex that the sketchwave patterns that blurt out of my hands. This piece is entitled “Twice Upon a Time” which reflects the nature of commercial art and fine art, as well as a mention to the beginning statements of fairytales that Disney is known for.


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