Acclaimed multimedia artist Wayne White unveiled his new installation project, Wayne-O-Rama, last Saturday at the Tenn Arts studio on Rossville Avenue. The year-long installation features fun,larger-than-life figures and scenes depicting the history of White’s hometown, Chattanooga.
“Wayne-O-Rama is a wonderland, straight from my imagination to yours,” says White. “It’s the Smithsonian Museum meets Goony Golf.”
Hundreds of volunteer artists helped White create the huge indoor installation. Under White’s direction, they transformed wood, cardboard and styrofoam into “a fabulously detailed celebration of hundreds of years of Chattanooga history,” according to a recent press release.
Wayne White was born and raised in Chattanooga, but moved to New York City early on in his career to work as a newspaper and magazine illustrator. In 1986, he began working for hit TV show Pee Wee’s Playhouse, where his set and puppet designs garnered three Emmy awards. Wayne-O-Rama marks White’s return to Chattanooga.
White has made a name for himself with his unique word paintings, giant puppets, and sculptures. Wayne-O-Rama includes all three of these trademark elements but primarily uses large wooden figures to tell the story of Chattanooga’s history. The installation depicts Lookout Mountain, Chief Dragging Canoe, Bessie Smith, Bob Brandy of the Bob Brandy Show, and many other notable Chattanooga figures.
Walking through Wayne-O-Rama is like entering the dream of a deranged historian. Many of the wooden 3-D installations veer towards the burlesque, lending a funhouse vibe to the project. Look at any piece, and you will see a display of almost random specificity.
Wayne-O-Rama is presented and curated by the Shaking Ray Levi Society, a local nonprofit collective that supports diverse art in the Chattanooga area, and sponsored by See Rock City among several other local foundations.
Wayne-O-Rama is located at 1800 Rossville Avenue, #108 and is open Wed-Sun, 11—6. Admission is free, although sponsors suggest a $5 student donation and $12 regular donation.