CHATTANOOGA. There is no interior quite like the one Wayne White and his construction crew have assembled at 1800 Rossville Avenue on Chattanooga’s Southside.
Though non-descript as if a strip mall, this gallery offers an unpretentious handmade sign on the door welcoming you to Wayne-O-Rama.
Take a few steps inside and check out the gift counter offering a raccoon tail hat that evokes the childhood memory of field trips to Chattanooga with an obligatory stop at the I-24 Stuckey’s (minus the pecan logs).
In the lobby, a larger than life puppet-presence of the Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith, foreshadows the extravaganza that lies ahead.
Visitors then enter a dream like landscape of Lookout Mountain and its famous roadside attractions. The year-long art installation has a sculptural quality that takes your breath away, as does the humor and hyperbole. Visitors learn a great deal about local history in the process of exploring the exhibit.
Evident throughout is a genuine affection for each landmark and legend of Wayne White’s childhood, including an oversize 1960s-era TV featuring vintage cowboy Bob Brandy. Bob hosted a children’s after school show that made Memphis Wonder Bread and Chattanooga’s Little Debbies grand prizes.
Wayne-O-Rama is designed by four-time Emmy award winning artist Wayne White who grew up in Tennessee but now calls California home. Nashville Interiors first mentioned Wayne White when his fantastical wallpaper design from Flavor Paper won best wallpaper in the International Contemporary Furniture Fair last year. Read more about Waynetopia at Nashville Interiors.
Wayne-O-Rama is something you need to see and experience for yourself. Doors are open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The exhibit runs through September 2017.
Musical events are scheduled throughout the run of the exhibit. Colonel Bruce Hampton has performed there, and so has Robert Fleitz, a toy piano player and composer from New York City. Group visits and student field trips are offered. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with any inquiries, or call (423) 902-8021.
The project is made possible by Tennessee Arts and the Shaking Ray Levi Society. The installation is sponosed by with support from foundations including Benwood, Lyndhurst, Footprint, and McKenzie.
The Shaking Ray Levi Society will host events, concerts, workshops, student field trips and special creative experiences on-site through September, 2017.
Visit Wayne-O-Rama on Facebook for upcoming concerts and events.
MORE ABOUT WAYNE WHITE
Wayne White has won four Emmy awards, three as art director on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and another as the subject of the acclaimed 2012 bio-pic Beauty Is Embarrassing. Born and raised in Chattanooga, and despite the numerous accolades and attention he has received, organizers say, “he has never forgotten where he came from.”
Wayne White is also known for his provacative fine art word paintings on vintage thrift store framed prints. These have received note by the modern art world and featured in several exhibits. The word art, along with his elaborate sculptural installations that include giant puppets that claim a meaningful sense of place and topography, expand the imagination and make him in demand in communities across the country. White has built his reputation as a world-class illustrator, animator, set designer, puppeteer and art director, but “he is a Chattanooga boy at heart, with a desire to both inspire and honor the city that helped to shape him into the artist he is today,” said Bob Stagner with the Shaking Ray Levi Society who initiatied the project.
“Wayne-O-Rama is a wonderland, straight from my imagination to yours. It is a funhouse for all ages that tells the story of Chattanooga and the South. It’s the Smithsonian Museum meets Goony Golf. It’s a celebration of the culture that shaped me and a gift to my hometown.”—Wayne White
The installation includes giant puppets, large-scale dioramas, peep shows, paintings and animation to tell the story of the region from pre-history to the present.
More than 300 artists from here and beyond have worked under White’s direction transforming wood, Styrofoam, and cardboard into a fabulously detailed celebration of hundreds of years of Chattanooga history.
Visit waynewhiteart.com to shop and learn more about this acclaimed artist who calls Tennessee home.
Enjoy this video presented by Tennessee Crossroads: