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WAYNE-O-RAMA! Coming to Chattanooga September 2016


Saturday, September 24, 2016 11:00 am - 4:00 PM

This is a Block Party Puppet Parade kicking off the public events for WAYNE-O-RAMA part of an ongoing organization to bring life to the historic Glass Street neighborhood in East Chattanooga. 

Please visit the GLASS HOUSE COLLECTIVE website for more information and for ways that you can participate!

Award-winning artist Wayne White is part of year-long interactive art event focusing on his hometown

August 22, 2016 By Barry Courter

WAYNE WHITE, Dragging Canoe Maquette - Photo by Bo Wheeler

Inspired by his childhood in Chattanooga, artist Wayne White, perhaps best known for the designs and characters he created for "Pee-wee's Playhouse," wants to repay the favor.

In collaboration with the Shaking Ray Levi Society and several community partners, White, a three-time winner in the Daytime Emmys for art direction — he designed the puppets on "Playhouse" in the late '80s — has created Wayne-O-Rama, a year-long interactive installation that will include giant puppets, live music, sculptures and classroom experiences for teachers and students. White says he wants to focus on the city's history, beauty and art to perhaps inspire the next generation of artists just like he was inspired.

"There's a very long story waiting for you when you're born. Mine was Chattanooga. Now it's my time to add to and hopefully enrich that story with my art," says White, who also earned an art direction Grammy for Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight" video in 1996 and a Billboard award in Best Art Direction for Peter Gabriel's "Big Time" video in 1986.

"This project and my hands-on involvement with it will not only inspire and help grow the creative community, but also will reach out to people who have never been in a museum or a gallery and become a nationwide destination. Everybody likes a good story."

As part of Wayne-O-Rama, a working studio will be set up at 1800 Rossville Ave. in the former Chattanooga Folk School and Ignis Glass space. White, who also won a Billboard award for best Art Direction for Peter Gabriel's "Big Time" music video in 1986, will visit the studio periodically throughout the year and also will be available to communicate electronically with teachers, artists and students who are there working.

In some cases, they will be at the studio working on four installations designed by White. He has created four maquettes, or small preliminary models, for the larger installations — some 20 feet tall — that will be created and kept at the studio. The four models depict blues legend Bessie Smith, Lookout Mountain, local kids TV pioneer Bob Brandy and Chief Dragging Canoe, war chief of the Chickamauga Cherokee.

WAYNE WHITE, Bessie Smith Maquette - Photo by Bo Wheeler

Each represents a person or part of the city's history that have impacted White throughout his life. They will have interactive parts and will be mobile, requiring two to three people to maneuver them, so they can be utilized at off-sight events.

Organizers have been reaching out to local teachers and artists, enlisting them to use the space and incorporate it into their classroom work, according to Jennifer Crutchfield, director of public relations at WTCI-TV 45 who's helping with publicity for Wayne-O-Rama.

"We also will be hosting workshops and events that Shaking Ray does there throughout the year, and there will be field trips for Hamilton County art students to the studio," she says.

White said in a Huffington Post interview that he remembers the day he knew he would become an artist. It was at Hixson Elementary School.

"It's the day my first-grade teacher, Sandra Stoddard, stood me up in front of the class and told everybody I was going to be an artist one day," he said. "It's the first day of school, and she had just seen a drawing I had made of the cafeteria lunch.

WAYNE WHITE, Bob Brady Maquette, Photo by Bo Wheeler

"My parents had always called me an artist because I drew all the time, but having a teacher say something like that in front of a crowd of teachers really sealed the deal. I was convinced from that moment on that there was really nothing else for me. Plus, it was rare to find that kind of support in the little Southern town I grew up in. I was lucky that day."

In addition to the four sculptures, White is creating two 12- to 14-foot marionettes depicting Confederate Gen. Patrick Cleburne and Union Gen. Tecumseh Sherman that will be part of a parade during Glass Street Live. That event on Sept. 24 is the first big public Wayne-O-Rama event.

Glass Street Live is a community-wide block party hosted by neighborhood partner, Glass House Collective, in correlation with the National Park Centennial Celebration. The 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. festivities will include a street party, a giant puppet show and a parade led by musician Nick Lutsko from Glass Street to the newly reopened Sherman Reservation on Missionary Ridge. The quarter-mile parade will highlight new access points for a trail constructed to connect the Sherman Reservation to Glass Street.

"This is actually the third Glass Street Live event, and we're excited to be connected with Wayne-O-Rama," says Glass House Collective Director of Operations Zachary Atchley. "It's going to be amazing."

Also as part of Wayne-O-Rama, the Hunter Museum of American Art has an exhibit through October of some of White's works, including his "Word" paintings, wood and bronze sculptures, puppets and sketches.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.


4-Time Emmy Award Winning Artist And Shaking Ray Levi Society Announce Wayne-O-Rama Year-Long Interactive Art Installation

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - http://www.chattanoogan.com/2016/7/27/328786/4-Time-Emmy-Award-Winning-Artist-And.aspx

WAYNE WHITE, Lookout Mountain Maquette, Photo by Bo Wheeler

The Shaking Ray Levi Society, Emmy Award-winning artist Wayne White and hosts of community partners announced Wayne-O-Rama on Tuesday afternoon at the Chattanooga Public Library’s fourth floor.

Officials said the four-time Emmy award winning artist and Chattanooga native Wayne White "will astound and inspire with a unique indoor Southside installation, Wayne-O-Rama,which will playfully and vividly recreate scenes and pay tribute to notable figures from centuries of Chattanooga’s rich history with incredible interactive sculptures, giant puppets, large-scale dioramas, immersive sound design and much more."

Recipient of four Emmy Awards and Billboard and MTV Music Video awards, Wayne White was also the subject of an Independent Lens film, “Beauty Is Embarrassing,” shown on PBS stations around the country. 

Officials said, "Imagine Pee-wee’s Playhouse crossed with the Smithsonian – that’s the vision for Wayne-O-Rama, which will serve as a hub of cultural activity for art, education, music and history with events, performances and educational and professional development opportunities."

 Wayne White said, “This will be like a history of Chattanooga as seen through my eyes and my sensibility. I love history. I grew up with Chattanooga's history. I love the romance of it. I love the characters. Of course, this is also my bid to be a part  of the great Chattanooga tourist-trap tradition."

     The project and the working studio will be in the Southside at 1800 Rossville Ave. in a space formerly occupied by the Chattanooga Folk School and Ignis Glass.  The project will host a wide variety of art, storytelling and animation workshops led by Wayne White, including collaborative community events like giant puppet parades, music and dance performances and art showcases.  Throughout the project’s year and beyond, it will impact the community and reach diverse audiences, stimulating the imagination of all; young children and adults, all socio-economic groups in schools, universities and under-served communities throughout Chattanooga, it was stated.

Maquettes were revealed of installations that will be created during the year by Wayne White, his supporting artists and Chattanooga volunteers.  These installations, some 20 feet tall, will remain in Chattanooga.  They include Bessie Smith, Lookout Mountain, Chief Dragging Canoe and Bob Brandy.  Installations will have interactive elements and some will be mobile, to be featured in parades and events throughout the city.  Each model represents a part of Chattanooga’s history that Wayne White has carried with him throughout his celebrated career, officials said.

     Corinne Hill from the Chattanooga Public Library welcomed a crowd of almost 100 with a projected live video stream showing Wayne White’s office and major awards in the background, kicking off an entertaining afternoon press conference.  Johnny Smith, executive director of the McKenzie Foundation, spoke of the impact of the arts, the work of the Shaking Ray Levi Society and Wayne White.  Bob Stagner, Shaking Ray Levi Society co-founder, led the guests in a parade of announcements with Wayne’s office and the occasional sound of a banjo in the background.

     Teal Thibaud and Zachary Atchley from the Glass House Collective announced a community festival on Sept. 24 featuring two-story puppets of Civil War generals who charged the hill 100 years ago, created by Wayne White.  "You can see Sherman Reservation from Glass Street, but few of our residents are aware that we have a National Park within walking distance to this community," said Teal Thibaud, executive director of the Glass House Collective.  "We have an opportunity to connect our community with nature and history, increase physical activity, and make this neighborhood a more inviting place to live."  The Glass House Collective invited the entire Chattanooga community to Glass Street LIVE, an all-day festival. 

     Shaun Townley, vice president of Content and Digital Strategy at WTCI, announced that Wayne White would be featured in November as a guest of the community PBS station’s long-running series, “The A List with Alison Lebovitz,” featured in an episode of the “Greater Chattanooga” series and that the station was fundraising to produce a documentary about Wayne-O-Rama and Chattanooga’s changing relationship to the arts. 

Virginia Anne Sharber, said, “The Hunter Museum of American Art is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of Chattanooga native Wayne White, opening June 30, 2017. The exhibition, which will comprise nearly 5,000 square feet, will delve into White’s Word paintings, cardboard, wood and bronze sculptures, amazing puppets, and boundless sketches.” 

     Meredith Levine, head of Youth Services at the Chattanooga Public Library, said she is passionate about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) learning, engaging teens and Wayne White’s art.  She said she grew up being influenced by his art and announced that the Chattanooga Public Library will be hosting a series of puppet workshops featuring his art, engaging children and adults from around the community in his art, the city’s history and their creative possibilities.

     Greg Bagby, principal of Barger Elementary, said two of the Shaking Ray Levi Society’s founders went to that school.  Michael Weger from Hixson Middle School noted that Wayne White had attended Hixson Elementary, Middle and High. These schools are education partners in the project. 

Wayne White, in a Huffington Post article talked about the most defining moment in his life.  It was at a Hamilton County School and it was with Chattanooga kids and a hard-working Hamilton County Department of Education teacher.  He said, “it’s the day my first grade teacher, Sandra Stoddard, stood me up in front of the class and told everybody I was going to be an artist one day. It was on the first day of school and she had just seen a drawing I had made of the cafeteria lunch. My parents had always called me an artist because I drew all the time, but having a teacher say something like that in front of a crowd of teachers really sealed the deal. I was convinced from that moment on that there was really nothing else for me. Plus, it was rare to find that kind of support in the little Southern town I grew up in. I was lucky that day.”

Bob Stagner said Wayne White "still loves Hamilton County teachers and the community that has been so changed by the foundations and art and education organizations working in our city to foster a community where all students have the opportunity to follow that same creative dream without leaving their hometown."

 Wayne-O-Rama will invite HCDE art teachers/educations to sign up for an Art Exploration field trip experience during six days of programming hosted at the working studio throughout the year.  Field trips will include stations that tour the works in progress, engage in an art activity and be a part of a live Skype call with Wayne White.  Today’s future-artists from all communities will have the opportunity to learn about him, engage in his art and explore their city’s history through his eyes.

     Jason McKinney, deputy director of Education from the city of Chattanooga Department of Youth and Family Development, reinforced the city’s commitment to increasing art education for the city’s youth, accepting the project’s offer of Art Exploration experiences for children participating in Spring Break 2017 and Summer Break 2017 programs.

     Wayne White, adorned with a coonskin hat, appeared on a large screen via Skype, mesmerizing the crowd with his spirit, love of art and dedication to his city, its history and its children.  Wayne White, with special helpers, Hain Kim from Tiny Giant and Keeli Crewe from Area 61 (both Chattanooga businesses and special partners and sponsors), described each model, its connection to Chattanooga, Wayne’s history and our community’s future.  Describing the event later, Wayne White said, “I was surprisingly moved at the press conference today. Beauty is embarrassing.

     Additional partner organizations that were announced include Barking Legs Theater, Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Chattanooga Autism Center, Chattanooga State Community College’s Art Department, Creative Discovery Museum, Friends of the Festival, Gig City Productions, Howard School, Jazzanooga, Rock City Gardens, Signal Centers, UTC Art Department, Very Special Arts Tennessee, Winder Binder Gallery and Bookstore and MainX24.

     Shaking Ray Levi Society co-founder Dennis Palmer, who passed away in 2013, was honored as a creator of the Wayne-O-Rama dream.  Founded in 1986, the Shaking Ray Levi Society is a volunteer-run, non-profit arts education organization with an emphasis on increasing opportunities for art programming for students.  Support for this year-long project has been generously provided by ArtsBuild, the Benwood Foundation, the Footprint Foundation, the Lyndhurst Foundation and the McKenzie Foundation.  After the year-long installation, The Shaking Ray Levi Society will assure that the sculptures and artwork created for Wayne-O-Rama will remain visible to the public in various Chattanooga locations for many years to come, it was stated.

The Wayne White Emmies include three for Pee Wee's Playhouse and one for Disney animation.



WAYNE-O-RAMA Facebook page


The Wayne White feature in The Bitter Southerner "WAYNE's WORLD" by Chuck Reese

Wayne White's TED Talk from 2013 - "You're Supposed To Act All Impressed"

See more of Wayne's artwork on his Western Project artist page