Wayne White: Art is Supposed to Hypnotize You or Something
Exhibitions run through August 23, 2015
“The inspirational puppetmaster of a generation.” – Dallas Observer
Who is Broward County named for and what would he look like if three-time Emmy Award-winning artist Wayne White made a giant puppet of him?
The answer is on view in the form of a supersized cardboard puppet of Napoleon Bonaparte Broward created by White during a 10-day residency at the Center. For his first exhibition in Florida, the Los Angeles-based artist built the Napoleon puppet as the centerpiece of a gallery fun house he designed to include his witty “Word” paintings and new drawings from recent artist residencies in Key West and Captiva.
The only-White-can-do-this Napoleon Bonaparte Broward puppet was created in conjunction with the year-long Broward 100 event that marks the centennial celebration of Broward County. As part of his residency, White also led workshops with nine talented high-school artists selected by the Center. Using White’s trademark materials, cardboard and hot glue, the students constructed their own original puppets based on an Everglades theme for display in the Interactive Art Room.
White won three Emmy Awards as a puppeteer and set designer on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, creating such iconic characters as Randy, Cool Cat, Dirty Dog, Chicky Baby, Roger the Monster, Mr. Kite, and Cowntess the Cow. He also worked in the music video industry, winning Billboard and MTV Music Video awards as an art director for The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” and Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time.” His recent work as a puppeteer typically lampoons a person, place or thing with a sense of showmanship and sly humor, as evidenced in his Broward puppet. Prior subjects included puppets of Elvis Presley, George Jones, and Lyndon Johnson, and gallery installations of a boom town and a cubist cowboy rodeo.
Napoleon Bonaparte Broward was the governor of Florida from 1905-09 and the County was named for him by the state upon its incorporation in 1915. He is known best for encouraging development in the region by initiating the drainage of the Everglades to create a rich agricultural plateau from he called “the fabulous muck.”
“I’ve always had the do-it-yourself approach,” White says of his art-making practice. “I grew up in this blue collar family and didn’t have a lot of toys, so you had to make your own fun. Building forts out of sticks and scrap lumber – that’s where I learned the joy of making something from nothing.”
In addition to his three-dimensional works, White is renowned in the fine art world for his “word paintings.” White repurposes vintage offset lithographs often found in thrift stores, and integrates them visually with painted phrases such as “Unfollow,” “Good Looking People Having Fun Without You,” and “Hoodathawt.” The exhibition also showcases a selection of new works on paper that White created at artist residencies in Captiva (2013) and Key West (2015).
The Dallas Observer called White, “The inspirational puppetmaster of a generation.” National Public Radio said, “His brain plus stuff is art. True of every artist, but very pronounced with [White].”
White himself said, “Hot glue and cardboard makes the world go round.”
In 2009, White’s life and career were chronicled in an incredible 382-page monograph designed and edited by Todd Oldham, Maybe Now I’ll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve. The inspiring trajectory of White’s life and art are the subject of the acclaimed 2012 documentary Beauty is Embarrassing, directed by Neil Berkeley. Los Angeles Magazine wrote that the film should be required viewing, “for every aspiring artist wondering how to build a life doing what they love … It’s a snapshot of the ways in which creativity and the business of daily living can be inseparably fused.”
White’s art is in the public collections of New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York); Detroit Institute of the Arts; Frederick R. Weissman’s Art Foundation (Los Angeles); and Laguna Art Museum.
“His brain plus stuff is art. True of every artist, but very pronounced with [White].” National Public Radio
“Hot glue and cardboard makes the world go round.” Wayne White
Art is Supposed to Hypnotize You or Something is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts; Citizens Interested In Arts; Visit Florida; a Cultural Tourism Program grant from the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council, The Diplomat Resort & Spa Hollywood and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The exhibition is supported by dj yard, MBI, Pastry is Art, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tropical Bamboo, and VooDoo BBQ & Grill.