Documentary on artist, Beauty is Embarrassing, in Austin theater

Although it has been a while since Pee-wee’s Playhouse TV show days, I am not sure viewers really took the time to know more about the artistry behind the successful production. Fans of the show and artists in general can now know more about Pee-wee’s Playhouse and specifically, Wayne White the artist, through a documentary directed by Neil Berkeley that is in theaters now. I really enjoyed learning more about White’s story, including his formative years, but watching the artist at work is amazing. I believe artists watching this film will enjoy it and most of all, be inspired to have fun with what means something special to them. It will then translate to others in the majority who may not be drawn to art.

White started his career as a cartoonist in New York City and although the space was initially limited to work in, he and others created Pee-wee’s Playhouse TV show. The film includes great details of that aspect of White’s career, including how he voiced a couple of the characters he created, but also about his life raised in the mountains of Tennessee with his parents. There certainly some great cinematography of the landscape that surrounded him in his youth, to the changes of urban cities where he has worked as an adult.

White’s success in television work led to more work designing iconic images in pop culture. I love the scenes of his take on saving and utilizing items and then creating other art pieces, as well as using thrift store finds of art to create other art pieces. This is an artist who won me over immediately once I saw this recycling and repurposing. He has success with it in the fine art world.

Although he most often mocks vanity, ego and fame in his art, he is an artist struggling to find peace and balance between his professional work and his personal art. Take and artist with you to Violet Crown Cinema in downtown Austin and enjoy the film accompanied by great original music by Tim Rutili.

By Liz Lopez

Rating B+

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