Pop-Culture Power

The name Wayne White might not ring any bells, but the work of this illustrator, painter and puppet maker is immediately recognizable. His kitschy imagination has created well-known characters like Dirty Dog, Floory and Mr. Kite on the late-1980s children’s TV show/cult classic Pee-wee’s Playhouse, as well as moving art for videos by the Smashing Pumpkins and Peter Gabriel.

His entire pop-culture story will be told tonight during a Denver FilmCenter screening of Beauty Is Embarrassing, a documentary about his life.

Even better, White will be on hand for a question-and-answer session following the film. He’ll discuss his career and most recent work, “Word Paintings” — a massive collection of humorous (and often profanity-laced) sayings painted on framed thrift-store landscapes. “I think humor is seen as a lesser thing, and art is always trying to be thought of as heavy and deep,” says White. “I challenge that, because I think humor has a lot of depth to it, and the best forms of it have layers of emotion.”

“Word Paintings” caught the eye of designer Todd Oldham, who facilitated 2009’s 400-page monograph Maybe Now I’ll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve, an expansive look at White’s lifetime of artwork. Beauty Is Embarrassing acts as an extension of that book, going on to tell the tale of an artist who continued to try, long after the television cameras had turned away from an Emmy-winning creative force.

The film opens tonight at 7 p.m. at the Denver FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. For more information on the film or to purchase tickets, $7 to $10, visit www.denverfilm.org or call 303-595-3456.
Sept. 21-27, 2012

 
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