The Wrath of the Laugh: An Interview with Wayne White

By the time you read this, Wayne White’s Invisible Ruler will be closed. The exhibition at Joshua Liner Gallery was Wayne’s return to NYC, and an outstanding success. Earlier this week, we caught up with Wayne in Los Angeles and proceeded to talk about life, art, and his life in art.

 
TWBE: Let’s start from the beginning. You grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when did you first discover art?

Wayne White: That’s a tough question. I guess I discovered art in drawing, and that’s one of my earliest memories. I discovered drawing just on my own as every kid does. I didn’t know it was called art and I didn’t really know what an artist was for a long time. There were no galleries or museums or any culture around when I was kid at that time. I came to it naturally from just a love of drawing and of course as I grew I learned about art history and artists and everything. My mother was where I got my biggest influence from. She was the artistic one in the family and loved to decorate, collect antiques and stuff. So she knew a little bit about art. When I was a little bitty kid I remember her saying, “Well Wayne could be a commercial artist one day.” She’d say that to adults, I overheard her because she didn’t say it directly to me. I would sit there as a little kid and I would imagine an artist that comes on between TV shows on the commercial and he’s standing there painting a portrait and it’s a commercial you know… (Laughter). And you get a smock – I remember it as clear as a bell. The vision I had in my head. You’ve got a smock on and there’s a pedestal with a bowl of fruit on it and an easel. It’s a commercial of a guy painting. I thought that’s what a commercial artist was.
 
So from there you went to art school and studied abstract painting at a college in Tennessee?

Yeah as I grew in Chattanooga, I went to high school and stuff and I was the school artist and a cartoonist on the school newspapers. That’s what I originally wanted to be as a kid was a cartoonist because that was my idea of an artist. And then I went to Middle Tennessee State University and I majored in painting because I just thought that painting was a serious thing to do. It’s what real artist did. I took four years of painting and art history and stuff, and that’s where I really learned about the art world and the history of art. The history part of it was just as important as the actual doing of it because that was a great education for me. Just learning about the past. I studied abstract – my painting teacher was an abstract expressionist. That was my first serious foray into painting, abstract painting.
 
You never strayed from that at all? You never tried to paint cartoons or anything?

Well, I kept drawing underground cartoons for the college newspaper and I always had an interest in cartoons. And my abstract paintings had a very cartoony line and I was interested in finding the gap between abstract paintings and cartoons which they share a lot, and I was a big fan of Phillip Guston and Willem de Kooning who both had very cartoony lines. Cartoons were never very far from my mind and then the minute that I graduated from four years of that abstract expressionism and everything, I got back into comics because I saw Raw Magazine and I knew this was the next generation for undergrounds. It was full of exciting great art and Raw Magazine is what got me convinced to become a cartoonist again. It inspired me to move to New York City.
 
What year was that?

It was 1980 when I first saw Raw. I was in Nashville where I lived for a year after I graduated.
 
When did you move to New York?

I didn’t get to New York until January of ’82. I spent another year in Nashville saving my dough (laughs) and then I made the leap. And in 1982 it was pretty rough and ready you know. I lived downtown in the East Village and it was still pretty funky, but it was a great time for the arts. A time when a young artist could afford to live in Manhattan and it was New York City so it was great. It was very exciting. It was my best education.
 

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Jim Shaw at Metro Pictures

Art with a sense of humor is our favorite art. “I Only Wanted You to Love Me” is on view through October 25th, 2014.

Live and in Bright Color in Los Angeles

Three solid shows opened in the parched City of Angels at the beginning of September: Eddie Martinez at Michael Kohn, KAWS at Honor Fraser, and Sam Falls at Hannah Hoffman. Here’s a look through all of them.

Photos courtesy of respective galleries

Art From the Skillet

In Kiss My Aura, his latest show at Slow Culture in Los Angeles, artist Travis Millard has taken his pancake art, covered it in resin (not syrup), and used the plate as a frame. Oh, he also made some rad drawings too.

Cruel Summer

Really late on this one as the exhibition curated by Roger Gastman at Jonathan Levine Gallery closed last Saturday. But hey, the show can still live on via the internet.

Adventures in Spray Painting

Go With The Flow is a group show currently on view at The Hole that explores the use of sprayed paint by 19 contemporary artists. Ranging from atomized paint traditionally used on automotives, to airbrush and aerosol, the show’s works come to life on walls covered in plastic sheeting that one can only assume were placed to mimic the environment where the art was created, and not for cleaning up a Patrick Bateman type slaughter. Go With The Flow runs through August 23, 2014.

Installation View: Summer Mixer 2014

A very nice group show featuring Andrew Schoultz, Sam Friedman, Guy Yanai, Robert Larson, Michael Theodore, Erin M. Riley, and Kristen Schiele. On view at Joshua Liner Gallery through August 27th, 2014.

Installation View: Dave Schubert – Scattered Scraps of Memory

By painting with light in the darkroom, Dave Schubert turns honest moments in public—captured by a quick eye and shutter finger—into dark, private pictures full of mystery. On view at MUDDGUTTS through August 8th.

Installation View: “OK, I’ll rename it”

A group show at Bill Brady KC featuring Erik Parker, Tomoo Gokita, KAWS, and Todd James. On view through August 9, 2014.

Installation View: Eddie Martinez – Neanderthal Jeans

 
What are “Neanderthal Jeans” and how can I get a pair?

Probably baggy acid washed, or a dockers hybrid.
 
How did you come up with the title?

It just came in the air, poof. You can just reach out and grab these things. I let myself act as primal as I need to be in studio…
 
The show features a lot of sculpture, it’s a fairly new medium for you. What made you take the leap from painting to the third dimension?

I had a painting block that went from a normal amount of time to a depressing amount, so I started making small table top sculptures outta beach finds and other materials.
 
You’re incorporating a lot of found objects into the work, some seem nautically inspired while others seem to reference tennis. Am I completely out of my mind or is that a keen observation?

Both spot-on observations, it’s that #islandstyle.
 
How is your tennis game these days, btw?

Fine. I want it to be much better, but it’s such a great sport.
 
In the tradition of many greats before you, you’re spending the Summer working out East on Long Island. Do you notice any shifts in what you’re making out there as opposed to Brooklyn?

I don’t know. I think if I were to notice, it’ll happen once I am working in the city again in the fall. Things are really opening up in the images now though.
 

After this show closes, what’s next for you?

A show in LA and then one in London…
 

“Neanderthal Jeans” is on view at Half Gallery through July 15th, 2014.
 

Installation View: OSGEMEOS – A Ópera Da Lua

 

This newly opened exhibition by the brotherly duo is proof that there is more going on in Brazil right now than the World Cup. The “Opera of the moon” is on view at Galpão Fortes Vilaça in São Paulo through August 16, 2014.

Cali Thornhill DeWitt – Grave Yard

 
Cali DeWitt’s recent show Grave Yard packed a lot of image into the little fragment of time that it was on view at MUDDGUTS.

Contemporary Bicycle Art

A look through Joyride, presented by Ed Spurr and Brendt Barbur in celebration of the 14th edition of the Bicycle Film Festival. The group show featuring Ai Weiwei, Rita Ackermann, Tim Barber, Frank Benson, Lizzi Bougatsos, Julia Chiang, Francesco Clemente, Peter Coffin, Dan Colen, Thomas Eggerer, Urs Fischer, Leo Fitzpatrick, Rainer Ganahl, Andrew Guenther, Marc Hundley, Alex Katz, KAWS, Graham Macbeth, Ari Marcopoulos, Jonathan Monk, Jason Nocito, Laura Owens, Eli Ping, Richard Prince, Tom Sachs, Aurel Schmidt, Kiki Smith, Devin Troy Strother, Spencer Sweeney, John Tremblay, and B. Wurtz is on view at Marlborough Broome Street through August 3, 2014

Installation View: Art Truancy – Celebrating 20 Years of Juxtapoz Magazine

On view at Jonathan LeVine Gallery through June 14th.

Installation View: Matthew Palladino at Garth Greenan Gallery

Matthew Palladino’s immense talent is on full display in this solo exhibition of vibrant relief paintings on view at Garth Greenan Gallery through June 28th, 2014.

Installation View: Just Before Brazil

This group exhibition of works on paper is on view at ALICE in Brussels, Belgium through June 27th, 2014.

Featuring: Maya Hayuk, Todd James, Steve Powers, Poch, HuskMitNavn, Sozyone Gonzalez, Atelier Pica Pica, Invader, Hell’O Monsters, Parra, Boris Tellegen, Colonel & Spit, Momo, Paul Wackers, Bjarke P z Olsen, Sophie d’Ansembourg, Jaba, HoNeT, Dave Decat, Sixe Paredes, Michael Swaney, 2 shy, Guy Yanai, Samuel François, Escif, Cleon Peterson

Installation View: Todd James – Secret Garden

Italians love busty blondes!

On view at Galleria Patricia Armocida in Milan through August 1, 2014

Installation View: Jayson Musson – Exhibit of Abstract Art

Without a doubt one of our favorite shows on view in New York right now, Jayson Musson’s Exhibit of Abstract Art takes its inspiration from the Modern Art set-pieces created by American comic illustrator Ernie Bushmiller for the comic strip Nancy. On view at Salon 94 Bowery through June 21, 2014.

Installation View: Ryan Travis Christian – Check please!

On view at Western Exhibitions in Chicago through June 6th, 2014

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