The Magic Wordsmith

Maybe now Wayne White will get the respect he so richly deserves. We don't always refer to puppeteers as artists. Same goes...

Maybe now Wayne White will get the respect he so richly deserves.

We don't always refer to puppeteers as artists. Same goes for set designers. And cartoonists. But the artist Wayne White has worn each of those hats, and, over an astonishingly prolific career, he's worn them well: The man drew cartoons for The New York Times, The Village Voice, and Raw; he built and operated puppets on Pee-wee's Playhouse, one of the many children's programs for which he also designed fantastical sets; and he headed set design on music videos for Peter Gabriel's "Big Time" and The Smashing Pumpkins's "Tonight, Tonight."However, in his new retrospective, Maybe Now I'll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve, edited and arranged by Todd Oldham, we're privy to the oeuvre of a painter and sculptor of the highest order, one who's enjoyed recent notoriety for his surreal landscapes-thrift-store-purchased lithographs from the 1970s, superimposed with bold, three dimensional text. Yet, with White, nothing feels more or less vital than anything else. And he's been kind enough to share with us his thoughts on three decades of work, the false dichotomy of high and low art, and what it means to think like a kid.GOOD: Todd Oldham arranged this book in such a way it allows the reader to experience so much of your life's work. It seems like that would give you the chance for some serious self-appraisal. Is that prospect exciting or daunting?WAYNE WHITE: Well, it does allow me that luxury of looking back and thinking about the whole thing, but, to tell you the truth, at this point, I haven't really formulated any insights. In fact, I'm sort of avoiding it. Looking back is sort of a passive thing for me; I prefer to keep moving forward. I was jolted into that realization when I left the South in 1981 and moved to New York City. I had a degree in painting, but the minute I got out there, I realized that I wasn't gonna make me a living [as a painter]. I'd seen Raw Magazine, which Art Spiegelman was putting out at the time, and it convinced me that there was whole new theme of cartooning and illustrating, this whole new generation that was coming up, and I wanted to be a part of that.G: It was an exciting time for cartoonists and comic artists. Were you just surrounded by inspirational people? WW: Oh, definitely. I got to watch Spiegelman draw Maus, the cartoon about the Holocaust, and just hanging around [his] crowd was an incredible experience. I learned more in that first year than I did anywhere else.G: How'd you make the transition into set design? WW: I'd been doing puppet shows as a hobby since college, and I just kept doing them for fun at parties and occasionally at gallery openings, which led to my first professional job as a set designer for a small show called Mrs. Cabobble's Caboose in 1985. I used that portfolio to [get a job as] the set designer, puppeteer, and puppet maker for Pee-wee's Playhouse.G: I think that for anyone of my generation, Pee-wee's Playhouse was a pretty significant cultural touchstone, partly because the world of the show was so special. What was the guiding principle for creating that set?WW: Well, the true power of Pee-wee's Playhouse was that it wasn't done by Hollywood professionals; it was done by downtown New York cartoonists and painters and sculptors. It was really an East Village art project, so we approached it as a sculptural environment-and [we were] given license to give it a little edge and irony.G: Did you find it difficult to make art for children?WW: Well, I think that all artists are very closely linked to their childhood. You can either get sentimental and maudlin about it, or you can really dig deep and try to find the universal spark that makes childhood so special. In most kids, [creativity] is usually drummed out of you by the time you're 4 or 5. So I try to dig down deep and find the three-year-old and keep that alive in me. It's cliché, but if you live long enough, you realize most clichés are true.

G: With your landscapes, you took really bland, mass-produced lithographs-wherein, presumably, the childlike artist had been beaten out of the adult who made it-and you turned them into these spectacularly weird art pieces by superimposing text on them. How did that come about?WW: Those lithographs were big in sixties through the seventies-they would usually sell them with couches in department stores. I was hoarding them for the frames and trying to knock out cheap reproductions of 19th Century landscapes on my own canvases, which were getting more and more surreal. One day, I decided to put some words middle of the woods I was painting, and then I thought, "Hmmm. What would happen if I just used this ready-made landscape?" It's sort of a lesson in the value of spontaneity-and [it ended up being] kind of a defiant gesture toward the idea of what's original and what's not.G: These days ideas of appropriation, who owns creative space, and challenging what "original" means are pretty central themes, no?WW: Maybe. A lot of the issues that the paintings brought on weren't really on my mind at first-I thought it was just gonna be sort of a throwaway joke. But that's how the best art is made. With art there are all kinds of unconscious elements going on, and the biggest challenge is to sort of tap into them without being conscious and sentimental or self-serious. It keeps you off your high horse.

G: I think with all your work there's a childlike, otherworldly lightheartedness, but there's also, paradoxically, a sense of heaviness and feeling to it all.WW: That's definitely been one of my missions, you know, bringing together the high stuff and the low stuff, the so-called disparate elements. There can be real human depth to the lowest kind of art form. And that was a lesson I learned as a cartoonist you know-or as a kids' show designer or a video set director-there's a depth in everything as long as you are sincere in your efforts.All images © 2009 Wayne White, Courtesy of AMMOBOOKS. Wayne White's paintings are currently showing at Mireille Mosler Gallery in New York City.
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Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

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"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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The Planet
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The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

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via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

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So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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