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Wayne White exhibit at Florida South Western is open till Nov. 7

“Here Comes Mr. Know-It-All” by Wayne White is the latest exhibition at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Florida SouthWestern State College. The exhibition runs from Sept. 11 to Nov. 7.

Wayne White is an artist born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. White is best known as an art director, set designer, animator, cartoonist and puppeteer.

Walking into the Rauschenberg Gallery, you instantly step into the world of Wayne White. The walls have been hand painted with whimsical line work that draws your eye from one piece to the next and guides you around the room like a puppet on a string.

The first piece that catches your eye is a beautiful landscape with the words, “Art is supposed to hypnotize you or something,” hovering above the horizon — instantly setting the mood for the whole exhibition. With a bit of humor and satire, White illustrates that his work has a voice and a personality that leaves you smiling and puzzled.

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Most of the work in the exhibition has a similar style — pieces of artwork that White has found in thrift shops and cheap antique stores, with word art painted over them, in such a way that he fools you into thinking that they belong. A perfect representation of the type of art White is painting over is a common painting of a farm with rolling hills and soft earthen tones, but written in monumental font across the field is “Tossed off Crap.” White feels the type of mass-produced paintings he uses as a background for his own artwork is crap and in his mind, isn’t art.

Following the captivating line of work on the walls, you find yourself in front of framed drawings displaying White’s crazy imagination. Drawings of set designs and crazy worlds are outlined in ink and brushed over with water-based paint. Some images even have mixed media incorporated into them, which seems fitting when there’s a humongous puppet of Bob Rauschenberg sitting in the corner. White built this monumental puppet out of wood, twine and cardboard. Obviously, in the theme of his well-known “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” puppets and set design, the Bob Puppet walked into the room on the opening reception night with White inside the puppet and two assistants operating the arms. Walking closer to a blank canvas, the Bob Puppet used his oversized paintbrush and started painting in bright red on the white background. When finished with the artwork, the puppet turned around and left the room.

The artwork in the exhibition leaves you with an odd feeling, given White is painting over another artist’s artwork, but you can’t help but love it and respect the skill that White displays by incorporating words into what normally would be cliché hotel art. The Bob Puppet sits in the corner of the gallery, watching over you while you are puzzled and smiling at the odd and amusing exhibition by Wayne White, “Mr. Know-It-All.”

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