Ten pieces of pop culture you didn't know Wayne White created

Wayne White with Randy, one of his many creations for Pee Wee's Playhouse.
Wayne White with Randy, one of his many creations for Pee Wee's Playhouse.

Wayne White might be the most prolific and virtually unknown contributor to popular culture of the last four decades. But the illustrator, painter, sculptor and puppet-maker from Chattanooga is getting some much deserved exposure with the release of Beauty Is Embarrassing, a documentary about White's life and still-evolving career. The film opens this Friday at 7 p.m. at the Denver FilmCenter, and the artist will be on hand to chat with the audience after the showing.

Not familiar with White's work? Here's a quick primer of just some of the pieces he's contributed to the world of mass media through illustrations, puppets, commercials and music videos.

See also: - Visual artist Wayne White on Pee Wee's Playhouse and using the F-word in fine art - Review: Beauty Is Embarrassing - Lists: Spike Lee's most beautifully preachy moments

10.Puppets on Pee Wee's Playhouse

White's best-known work was form

Pee Wee's Playhouse

, the show that essentially launched his mainstream career in 1986. Brought on at the television show's inception, the illustrator's self-proclaimed "funky homemade puppet shows on the side" became his bread and butter. Characters like Dirty Dog, Mr. Kite, Conky and Randy were not only created by White, but he also voiced and operated some.

9. The Smashing Pumpkins, "Tonight, Tonight"

The second of what the artist calls his best-known pieces are the backgrounds and life-size illustrations for the Georges Méliès-inspired video. "I got the Smashing Pumpkins gig because I knew Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the husband-and-wife director team who did

Little Miss Sunshine


Ruby Sparks

and millions of other videos and commercials," says White. Already a fan of nineteenth-century design, the artist's whimsical work was a perfect fit for the retro video.

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