See It Soon: Beauty is Embarrassing

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Artist Wayne White,
the puppet master behind
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, demonstrates how to live life through art in the documentary Beauty
is Embarrassing.  

I’m always looking for a good film recommendation, so I
thought it only fair that I start a weekly feature within this blog where I
recommend something I’ve recently watched. I’m calling it “See It Soon,” and
I’ll do my best to post every Friday so you can plan your weekend watching

In my first
for this blog, I mentioned a childhood fascination with Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Well, I should have
clarified that the fascination has stretched past childhood and well into my
adult years. I know I’m not alone, though, as there are plenty of adults
perpetuating the surreal silliness of that show; specifically, some of the
artists that were involved in the creation of the show.

One such artist is Wayne White, whose life and work is
profiled in the recent documentary Beauty
is Embarrassing
. In the Pee-Wee
years, White created the puppets that populated the Playhouse. More recently,
he’s finding old paintings at flea markets and updating them with contemporary
phrases and slogans to create fantastic-looking surrealistic scenes:

While the film is a great retrospective of White’s art, my
favorite scenes are the ones that show everyday life in the White household,
where Wayne and his wife, cartoonist Mimi Pond, encourage their children by
example to seek out and take advantage of every opportunity that comes along to
be creative. Not only is the film an interesting look at an artist’s lifetime of work,
but an inspirational example of how to live one’s life to the fullest. Watch it on DVD or video on demand.

Christian Williams is Editor in Chief of Utne Reader, and he also paints and makes music.View and listen to his work at Follow him on Twitter: @cwwilliams.

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