Last month I went to New York City to get some inspiration for the “Metropolitan Series” for the TENxTENxTEN project. It had been almost 10 years since I had been back, so my mind was virtually blank when it came any kind of inspiration or possible idea for the piece. I think the last time I was in NYC I had just re-emerged my desires to be a painter, so my thought processes and understanding to convert my visual landscape into a project were at best minimal, if at all, existing in the first place.
I was staying with an old friend that I knew from San Francisco that had recently moved to the Upper West Side in Manhattan. He had somehow secured tickets to a Wanda Sykes comedy show, and invited me along to see her perform. We rode over to the brightly lit and jam packed tourist epicenter of NYC in Times Square over to the VIACOM building, and waited in line for a bit. While in queue, we came to realization through various sources of information from people around us, that
1. This was a live taping
2. This technically wasn’t a comedy show
What we were actually attending was LOGO Channel’s “New, Now, Next Vote”, a political program “aimed to educate, activate and entertain viewers, while shining a spotlight on the state of national politics through an LGBT lens.” We were part of the guest audience of the live taping. It was a great show, filled with some incredible people (including Rep Barney Frank). The debates were very entertaining and informing, and I was … for the most part trying to be an active participant, but… was having somewhat of a difficult time paying attention because of one detail of the entire show.
Being that we were in the audience, we were faced towards not only Wanda Sykes and the political speakers in the show, but also the massive window behind them that looked over Times Square. Behind the window was this massive video billboard that aired a 3 second clip that kept on repeating. It showed Obama, then Romney followed by stripes and stars from the American flag flying across their faces. While the whole show was happening, I was mostly engaged, but at the same time I was transfixed by calculating the amount of times the clip repeated over and over again. For instance, since the clip was 3 seconds, I couldn’t help but think that the clip played 20 times in a minute, or 200 times in ten minutes. And since we were there for 2 hours and 14 minutes, that… the clip played 2,680 times. Not did I end up doing that, but then I started calculating the times that Obama and Romney appeared .vs. the stars and stripes. Obama and Romney had 2 seconds of time, stripes and stars had 1/2 a second each, meaning that in 2 hours and 14 minutes, the candidates appeared on the screen 4,020 times, and the stars and stripes shown against our faces 16,080 times.
And this my friends, was why I was in special ed classes for most of my life.
Because this screen was going on and on, my head transported into ideas of doing a Mickey head. I had already done a Mickey previously for Disney Fine Art in the realm of Americana, which was called “Mickeymerica” (Limited Editions available on DisneyFineArt.com/TennesseeLoveless) back in 2011, which was selected as the official July 4th print for that year. I wanted to do the same format, but in the realm that was similar to the repetitive screen happening. In the screen the stripes were cold and the stars were warm, which clearly were the reversal of the traditional color format of the American flag. This suddenly became the direction for the new work.
This piece is number 38 in the collection, and the 5th in the series, marking the halfway mark for this sector of the project. It is called “United States of Mickey”, and represents America for the project.