Director Neil Berkeley’s Beauty is Embarrassing is an inspirational documentary about the life and work of Wayne White, who recently became a darling of the contemporary art scene for his whimsical yet snarky word paintings on found vintage landscape lithographs. While White has finally gained renown in larger circles for his paintings, he started out in Brooklyn, New York on a little show called Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
Wayne White is a multi-disciplinary artist who is not only a painter, but a sculptor, illustrator, cartoonist, animator, and puppet-maker. As if that weren’t enough White also has experience in voice acting, puppeteering, set design, production design, art direction, and received three Emmys for his work on Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Along with Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Wayne has worked on Beakman’s World, Shining Time Station, Liquid Television, Riders in the Sky, and The Weird Al Show. White also did the art direction for two music videos, Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time” and the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight”, both of which received awards.
White grew up in the small country town of Chattanooga, Tennessee and his parents didn’t always understand him, but regardless of this they knew they had an extremely talented son destined for awesomeness. Even if you’re not an artist, music video, or puppet enthusiast you can still enjoy this funny yet poignant film about the surprising twists and turns in the life of this long unappreciated weirdo who has unknowingly left his stamp on our subconscious.
This film proves that artists don’t have to settle on making one type of art, and when people told White that he lacked focus because of all his different creative outlets he told them a resounding “Fuck you.” That is the crux of the film, to do what makes you happy no matter what others may say or think… that and art can be funny and even contain a few f-bombs.
While the DVD is slated to come out on January 22, 2013, you can actually download or stream it on your computer from the Beauty is Embarrassing website, Amazon.com, or on Vimeo right now. There is also an autobiography about White’s work called Maybe Now I’ll Get The Respect I So Richly Deserve if you are curious to learn more about this wildly creative man.