Artist Donald Montileaux & Mickey Mouse

Walking into Donald Montileaux's studio, a colorful drawing of Mickey Mouse is prominently mounted on the wall and seems as if to greet us as we enter the space. Looking around at Donald's studio, this drawing of Mickey is surrounded by ledger drawings and masks; it appears to be a bit out of place, but since it's hung in such a special way, we just have to ask...what's with Mickey?

[Tracey] Can you tell us about Mickey Mouse?

[Donald Montileaux] Did you film him? Did you get a picture of Mickey? He's my muse…

Well, when I was growing up, I never knew we were a poor family (you know, as a kid, you never know that), but my dad would come back from work, we'd eat supper, and then (because we didn't have a TV), my dad and I would take out the sketch pad and draw pictures of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. My mom was always the judge, and because I was their only child, I'd always win.

Mickey Mouse has been with me for 60 years…and even today, I can still draw him pretty good.

He's probably also one who inspired me to become an artist…

I have a Mickey Mouse watch that I wear whenever I travel. I always tell people that Mickey's with me today [Donald mimics the way Mickey looks on his watch at different times during the day]…so that's why Mickey Mouse.

[Rose] That's a great explanation! That's awesome.

[Donald] If you go to my show at the Dahl, the first thing you'll see as you enter the gallery, there's a picture of me and a picture of Mickey Mouse drawing some horses with a paint brush (at my retrospective in 2003, I gave the drawing to my dad…but after he passed away and my mom passed away, I got Mickey back).