Thank goodness this week was Spring Break. After accepting a contract to teach in Istanbul, Turkey last week, and then selling my home that same evening, I’ve been involved in many activities. Understandably, the Ministry of Turkey requires a police clearance, so I began the week at the downtown Dallas jail to get fingerprinted. Once behind the locked doors, the police officers began the procedure and I reacted enthusiastically, asking many questions and complimenting their efficiency and expertise. The officers were surprised by my excitement. They explained that most people they fingerprint react quite differently to their procedures!
By mid-week I was sending scanned documents to Turkey, and mailing documents via DHL. Then my house was inspected as part of the selling process, and I had to squeeze in a physical examination to receive a medical clearance from my doctor. Thursday was the first day of the NAEA (National Art Educators Association) Conference and, as I reported in my article It’s All Good, I was selected to present at a session on Thursday morning. My presentation Blogging in the Art Classroom was received well and the rest of the weekend I was free to enjoy other presentations, listen to lectures and play with new art products in the huge Exhibit Hall.
I loved being with my two dear friends and colleagues and it was fun running into other art friends throughout the conference center. For the most part, we all had different interests and went our separate ways to the daily discussion groups and sessions, but many of us attended the last session Friday night to watch the film, Beauty is Embarrassing, which features the life and work of Wayne White. Known to many as the Emmy winning, co-creator of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse fame, he was also the illustrator/designer for award winning music videos for both Peter Gabriel and the Smashing Pumpkins. After viewing this autobiographical film, Mr. White made a surprise appearance and talked openly and intimately to the audience. He was immediately likeable and shared about his enormously “lucky” life, as he called it. He is represented by the Marty Walker Gallery in Dallas and on this website, you can watch several interviews, which I encourage you to do as his dry-wit and sarcasm, evidenced through his Word Paintings, will leave you laughing and pondering deeper interpretations to life.
Wayne grew up as a country boy in Chattanooga, Tennessee and many of his high school and college antics reminded me of growing up in Ozark, Missouri. He recounted one story in which his high school art teacher had collected a sampling of his Salvadore Dali’ish drawings and given them to his principal. Wayne was excited about this, thinking that he might receive some sort of honor. Instead, he was invited into the principal’s office and was told, “Those don’t look like the drawings of a red-blooded American boy. I’ve noticed you’re not involved in the football or basketball teams…I’m gonna keep an eye on you, boy.” Although he loves his family and the beautiful countryside of Tennessee, he was a rebel and couldn’t wait to get out and explore the world. To Wayne, humor is a sacred thing; a great communicator. He feels it is a way to tell the truth in a way everyone understands. He encourages everyone by saying, “Do what you love. It’s gonna lead where you want to go. Never give up. Invent yourself.” I couldn’t agree more.