See Ugly Thrift Store Paintings through Artist Wayne White’s Pretty Eyes

It reads like Hip­ster 101. Cre­ative mis­fit teen makes a con­scious choice to be a freak, grows up, sticks it to the main­stream, gains acclaim paint­ing fun­ny words and phras­es on ugly thrift store “art”. Except Wayne White, the man respon­si­ble in large part for the look of Pee­Wee’s Play­house and the sub­ject of a recent doc­u­men­tary, Beau­ty is Embar­rass­ing, isn’t much inter­est­ed in mock­ing easy prey. Pity. With those bed­room eyes and that ban­jo, he’d make a great a char­ac­ter on HBO’s Girls (pro­vid­ed, of course, he were thir­ty years younger).

Age has con­ferred a num­ber of lessons that he imparts on the thrift store ride-along above. For instance, those squares with whom less sea­soned artists are so pre­oc­cu­pied don’t give a hoot what the likes of him does or does­n’t do. Also, there’s no prof­it to be had in paint­ing on orig­i­nals. “That would be a com­ment on the artists.” Instead he trawls for repro­duc­tions, which he views as prod­ucts that have had all the pret­ty sucked out of them.

His plea­sure in find­ing a suit­ably unlove­ly Venet­ian scene in an ornate frame is refresh­ing, know­ing that it’s not pow­ered by snide irony. The only irony he acknowl­edges is that the uni­verse has seen fit to let him pros­per as an artist in this econ­o­my. Whether this will prove a last­ing lega­cy remains to be seen, but a few min­utes with Wayne White should be enough to per­ma­nent­ly alter your per­cep­tion of that hideous cov­ered bridge scene on your local Sal­va­tion Army’s wall.

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of The East Vil­lage Inky zine, and author of sev­en books, includ­ing the forth­com­ing graph­ic nov­el, Peanut.

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  • In mak­ing that pre­dic­tion it was­n’t that I wished it to hap­pen, rather I saw the writ­ing on the walls. And specif­i­cal­ly as a writer, I had noticed the arti­fi­cial intel­li­gent writ­ing pro­grams were begin­ning to pro­lif­er­ate online. Writ­ing pro­grams which could take infor­ma­tion from 20 or 30 news arti­cles, com­pile them togeth­er and pro­duce a news report which was eas­i­ly under­stood by a human read­er, and actu­al­ly writ­ten as good, or bet­ter than any of the indi­vid­ual news arti­cles, and just as accu­rate, if not more so based on prob­a­bil­i­ty of how many oth­er news arti­cles con­tained the same infor­ma­tion.

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