In the documentary film about his life, Beauty Is Embarrassing, artist Wayne White gleefully mocks the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote that “there are no second acts in American lives.” White, who is in his mid-fifties, is enjoying a very successful second act as a painter, sculptor, and public installation artist after first establishing himself in the entertainment industry in his twenties as the Emmy award-winning puppeteer and set designer for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, which he often refers to as a “downtown New York art project disguised as a children’s show.” He also supplied the voices for several characters on the show and worked on several other shows including Beakman’s World and The Weird Al Show. White is also known as the art director of two ground-breaking music videos; Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time” and Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight,” for which he won Billboard and MTV Music Awards respectively.
In his second act, White has had great success as a fine artist whose paintings, sculptures and public installation works have been shown internationally. White’s life and work have been chronicled in the 2009 monograph Maybe Now I’ll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve edited by Todd Oldham, and in the 2012 documentary film Beauty Is Embarrassing by Neil Berkeley. White’s word paintings featuring text integrated into landscapes will be featured in the York College Galleries from March 12 – April 24 and he will spend a month at York College as an artist-in-residence creating a large-scale installation at Marketview Arts’ third floor Gallery Hall that will open to the public on April 4 as the key event of April’s “First Fridays in Downtown York.” White’s lecture is sure to include the humor and irreverence he is known for and possibly even a little banjo picking and/or harmonica playing if we’re lucky.