Are iconoclasts normally cheerful and wry? Wayne White certainly is. The Chattanooga (well Hixson, really), Tennessee-born artist is the product of a feverishly-decorated-and-redecorated Southern home where boys played football and art-making was not what a boy should aspire to. A rebellious teen, White wisely put sports in the background, studied art at Middle Tennessee State University, then moved to New York City in 1979 to pursue his calling. He achieved quick success as an animator, art director and puppeteer on productions as varied as Pee Wee’s Playhouse and videos from the Smashing Pumpkins. He won Emmys and MTV Video Music Awards, produced off-off-Broadway puppet shows and generally made lots of great art in a wide variety of mediums.

And now he’s becoming a star of a slightly different sort: an art star. White has become known for paintings that riff off of thrift store lithographs which he augments with hilarious, three-dimensional words and phrases rendered in oils. These pieces, as well as a variety of works on paper, sculptures and installations, have been gathered in the recently-published Ammo Books monograph: Wayne White: Maybe Now I’ll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve by famed (and similarly-multitalented) designer / photographer / art collector Todd Oldham. White’s latest piece is a giant George Jones installation at Rice University and a soon-to-be-unveiled set of outdoor works which will debut at the Wolfsonian Museum as part of the international art explosion known as Art Basel this month in Miami.

Got all that?

SoLost couldn’t cover ALL of that at once, so we just decided to experience Wayne’s world for a day as he prospected thrift store art and talked about his life and art-making. We had fun and hope you will too…

Producer / Director: Dave Anderson Photography
Editing and Postproduction: Jonathan Childs
Motion Graphics: TJ McCoy
Executive Producer: Warwick Sabin

SoLost is an Oxford American production.

(c) 2009 The Oxford American Literary Project

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