On Sunday, March 17th, the Brooks had the pleasure of hosting multi-media artist Wayne White. Originally from the wellspring of artistry of the American South, White is currently living on the west coast and in the loving arms of the art world for his “word paintings”. If this doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps you will be more familiar with his role in a certain cultural phenomenon: White was one of the original puppet masters of Pee Wee’s Playhouse.
Recently dispatched from the Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island, Florida, the artist appeared quite tan and fully inspired as he obliged the Q & A session that followed Brooks’ screening of Beauty is Embarrassing: The Wayne White Story, a documentary by Neil Berkeley that tracks the artist’s journey thus far.
“Hi, I’m Wayne White. If you ‘Q’, I will ‘A'”
And with this humble exposition, a smattering of positive inquiry unfurled from the audience in earnest. Artists, teachers, supporters of the arts, and even a man from White’s hometown provided the artist with a platform to divulge everything from the secrets to success (failure), to the best way to transfer a drawing to canvas (ballpoint pen). Effortlessly, his thoughts coalesced into sound bite lore: The insight of a formidable art-star packaged as Southern adage.
At one point, White expressed his dislike for the idea of having a guru, “I’m anti-guru.”
Indeed, he is….
Listed below are the highlights and zingers I managed to jot down, from both the Q & A and the documentary. Feel free to add to this list through comment or repost. If you didn’t make it to the Brooks that day,the film is offered here for $5.
- “Don’t believe your own press, and be careful what you wish for.”
- “I think of art as entertainment.”
- “…it’s introducing humor to the art world: Not art world humor, but real-world humor.”
- “I can tell you from being around them; famous people are insane. Celebrity really is for crazy people.”
- “I use the language people use. I love the ‘f-word’ because for me, it’s like humans barking.”
- “The rhythms of the banjo suit my nervous system.”
- “Limited resources are a great spark for creativity.”
- “I don’t believe in artist blocks, I make myself work. A lot of people don’t realize it, but art is hard work. I call it ditch-digging.”
- “A lot of inspiration is found in negative reinforcement. It’s not good for the soul to be celebrated all the time.”
- “People ask me what the secret to success is, and I say it is failure. It’s fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed…”
- “Leave your comfort zone, leave your town. People are always so proud of where they are from like they invented it. It becomes provincialism. Art does not feed off of provincialism.”
- “Most things are done out of fear: Fear of losing your job, fear of losing your house, fear of losing your wife. The world needs stuff done out of love. That is what these places are for – things built out of love.”