Dr. Jumba, the evil scientist who created Stitch, spoke to the Galactic Council about his creation: “he is bulletproof, fireproof and can think faster than a super computer. He can see in the dark and can move objects at least 3,000 times his size. His only instinct? – to destroy whatever he touches!” This poster exemplifies the “new” collectable marketplace: artwork based on technology and modern myth, given cult status by adults who were children in the late 1990’s. This piece is not exactly art and not exactly technology; yet add nostalgia, and you begin to understand the pop culture marketplace of today.
CB sends me a giclee on canvas, which reads: “Stitch at Aladdin’s Palace, Las Vegas, 8 pm July 10-11, 2004, tickets at $15 each – all seats reserved.” We see Stitch, a Disney character, dressed in a high-collared white jumpsuit like Elvis Presley. Stitch holds a guitar just like Elvis. The size of the piece is 16” x 12”, a limited edition of 95. The artist has ink-signed Tricia Buchanan-Benson, numbered at 26/95.
The animator behind this illustration is a woman. Disney Studios boasts a long history of male animators, and not many females. Tricia Buchanan-Benson wrote to Walt Disney in 1988 at age 11, asking him to chart an animator’s career course. He wrote back! She graduated Loyola Marymount with a film degree since a degree in animation didn't exist. She became successful as an animator for The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and Dilbert.
CB purchased this at a Disney Gallery “years ago.” This piece is a consumable object as well as possessing perceptions of time and the pull of childhood nostalgia.
I had never heard of this Disney character Stitch. His popularity dates to the early 2000’s. Stitch, too, has a fictitious creator, the aforementioned evil Dr. Jumba. In the movie Lilo and Stitch, Dr Jumba tell us that Stitch has been created by him with such ‘destructive programming’ that Stitch is provoked to “back up sewers, reverse street signs and steal everyone’s left shoe.” (In fact Stitch eats only left shoes.) Stitch, like other Disney characters, has a child-like quality in spite of his malicious behavior. Stitch finds a friend in Lilo, also a naughty child, and a social outcast of sorts. Lilo believes in Stitch and seeks to retrain him away from his harmful ways, and here’s where we get back to the ‘Elvis’ symbol in CB’s artwork. Lilo trains Stitch in how to be a good monster by showing him Elvis Presley films. Thus, CB owns a concert poster, with Stitch posing as Elvis!
Stitch, a monster, lacks Elvis’s perfect looks and suave demeanor, yet is trained well by Lilo, who employs both her love and an Elvis role model. Stitch takes on the character of a pet dog, is adopted by Lilo and stays with her on Earth.
If this sounds like an unknown fairy story, it might be because you are a Boomer. But late 1990’s early 2000’s pop culture has a cult following among younger generations. I didn’t realize it because I didn’t recognize it: pop-culture of 2000 is now hot. There’s a definite reason for this. It is called nostalgia.
Disney memorabilia has always been collectible, but today contemporary memorabilia has a cult following. That’s because of the compression of time and sentiment into that powerful market force called nostalgia. If CB is a millennial, she might have been 16 in 2004 when this artwork was marketed. For CB, this image of Stitch is both evocative and compelling. Conversely, I have a hard time imagining that anything from 2004 can induce tangible nostalgia. For me, a nostalgia-inducing object dates from the 1960’s. But today’s sentimental collectibles, because of the time-warp of technology, have a shorter and faster threshold. A beloved Disney character poster from 2004 is an antique and a collectible.
The value of this giclee (essentially a fine art lithographic poster mounted on canvas) is $500. If CB offers to sell it, it may be snapped up by a millennial who remembers “old days” and “vintage movies.”
The artwork is a testimony to an era (early 2000’s), and an example of a style of animation that may remind a thirty-something of the technology and narratives and of their youth. Unbelievable to those of us in our late 50’s, but this poster is a lucrative collectible object today.
Certified appraiser for estates, inheritances and trusts.
Dr. Elizabeth Stewart's column appears every week in the Salon & Style section of the Santa Barbara News Press. Email her your questions and high-resolution photos at ElizabethAppraisals @ gmail.com
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