Hoozy Thinky Iz? Wayne White, that’s who. Ok, let me start by saying that Wayne is one of my favorite artists ever. I tried to be cool, but alas, I spent the first quarter of this episode having a fan-girl panic attack, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to tell. So, to make it more entertaining for yourself, please feel free to take a shot of tequila every time I say, “WOW!” or “relaxed”… (sigh)… yep, embarrassing – but not the beautiful kind. You can listen to our conversation right up there, under that embarrassingly beautiful painting, or you can subscribe on iTunes.
So, I could have talked to Wayne for five more hours, I had so many questions. I wish I’d asked about his amazingly talented/creative wife, Mimi Pond (pictured below hugging Wayne in a giant LBJ puppet head). I didn’t even get to the part about his work on the Smashing Pumpkins Tonight, Tonight video or Peter Gabriel’s Big Time video… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Oh well, just go watch his film, Beauty is Embarrassing (directed by Neil Berkeley) and you’ll get the gist. Oh, and try not to cry. This is one of my most favorite movies of all time, so that’s where I jumped in:
It really is such a great documentary. Yes, it covers his work and his life, but it also hits all sorts of nerves about getting burnt out, self-doubt (hoozy thinky iz), and finding your way to a place where you’re just creating work that makes you happy. Yep, I cried at least three or four times as I thought, “Yes! Me too!” … and don’t even get me started on Mrs. Stoddard, or when Wayne’s dad starts crying. Yeah, you’re going to need a tissue.
Ok, now for all of you kids from the 1980s, you’ll remember this from Saturday morning TV … Pee-wee’s Playhouse! Wayne was part of the team from the beginning – designing sets, puppets, and he even did a bunch of the voices (Dirty Dog, Randy, one of the flowers, etc etc). Hello, childhood flashback:
Oh, Pee-wee. Good times. “Beauty is Embarrassing” covers all of this so well (including the pre-cursor to Pee-wee’s Playhouse, a Nashville Kids’ Show called Mrs.Cabobbles Caboose)… so again… go watch this movie!
And of course, Wayne’s thrift shop landscape word paintings that I love more than I can say. He does all sorts of amazing things (sculptures, puppets, drawings etc) but these paintings have definitely become something he’s known for:
So hilarious! I have a thing for funny art, probably because it’s pretty hard to find. I just love that he’s taken these forgotten landscapes and turned them into beautifully painted text pieces… text pieces that allow him to say whatever the hell he wants to say! You know, things like “all that fake laughin for nothin”, “just a picture / shunned by scholars / now it costs ten thousand dollars”, and one of my favorites… “just leave the awards on the kitchen table / i’m back here paintin a fuckin masterpiece” … Ha! That makes me LOL, as the kids say.
And finally, this is the book we mentioned a couple of times. Designer Todd Oldham loves Wayne’s work too, and one of the results of that is this beautiful book, “Maybe Now I’ll Get The Respect I So Richly Deserve”:
And that’s that. I am so thrilled that I got to do this with him… and I hope you enjoyed all of your many, many tequila shots. Next time I’ll be super cool. Maybe. Thanks so much to Wayne for taking the time to do this, and thanks to you for listening. There’ll be a special holiday podcast next weekend, but until then, please sit back and relax to this little gem that came out of the good old speed round… the first song that Wayne ever slow danced to: “Poor Side of Town”. Enjoy.