by Samantha Kate
A couple of months ago, I went to an early afternoon showing of the Wayne White documentary Beauty is Embarrassing at the Nashville Film Festival. I deliberately picked films based on how little I knew about them and the variable awesomeness of their film poster. I didn’t expect to be blown away. Who goes to a film festival in the middle of the day, by themselves, to see a documentary about the guy most famously known for creating Dirty Dog on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse? This girl.
Wayne White is a crazy art guy. He was made to do art; and his art has taken all kinds of weird shapes and forms. Dirty Dog, Randy, Globey, Mr. Kite, and much of the set on Pee Wee’s Playhouse came from White’s mind and hands as puppet-maker; and since 2000, he’s focused primarily on “Word Paintings” like I’ve shown above. He starts with a piece of “over-the-sofa” art from the 60s and 70s, and paints the words and phrases – some are really straightforward and some are all over the place.
What makes Wayne White such a cool guy is that he works hard on his art, and has for years, even when it wasn’t the most successful or smart thing for him to do at the time. He’s also humble – not only did he do a Q&A at the festival, but also introduced and thanked the cast & crew of his first TV gig in Tennessee, Mrs. Cobabble’s Caboose, which admittedly laid the groundwork for his most successful work. The documentary is currently playing around the country, and if it shows up in your city, it should go without saying, you should see it! Check out the trailer of the film, and also a piece from his show at the Rice Gallery featuring a giant, automated George Jones head after the jump!