Artist Wayne White Beauty is Embarrassing Word Thrift Store Art

Wayne White, is a prolific American artist with an interesting background, is the subject of a documentary titled Beauty is Embarrassing by Neil Berkeley. The artist had his first big success working as the primary set designer for Pee Wee’s Playhouse in the 1980s earning him three Emmy awards.  White’s recent success in the fine art world involve his elegant word paintings in which he incorporates three-dimensional text into old thrift store paintings. The concept of modifying an old found painting is nothing new, and you can find many artists who have tried it, but the technical detail combined with the clever choice of phrases makes Wayne’s art really stand out. His phrases often poke fun at vanity and narcissism with a little southern culture flavor. The large letters that take over these old landscape paintings are often inserted behind the trees and are reflected in the water with exquisite detail. The documentary shows how he basically free hands this process and its really impressive.

Todd Oldham put together a book of Wayne’s work in 2009 title “Wayne White: Maybe Now I’ll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve.” This 400 page book is a comprehensive look at the artist’s body of work over the past 30+ years including unpublished sketchbooks, paintings, drawings, animations, puppets and music videos. Wayne has been traveling the country putting on an hour-long show since the book was released. He incorporates banjo and harmonica while he talks about his life and art which makes for a very humorous and entertaining event.

Here are some of Wayne White’s word paintings, and you can click on the thumbnail for larger view. For more information, check out his official website at

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