Grand Opening of Wayne-O-Rama in downtown Chattanooga
An interactive art exhibit had its grand opening today at the Tenn Arts studio on Rossville Avenue in Chattanooga. The Wayne-O-Rama exhibit is a yearlong installation by four-time Emmy Award-winning artist Wayne White that showcases the history of Chattanooga in an unique way.
See Rock City, Inc. with support from the Benwood Foundation, the Footprint Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation and the McKenzie Foundation are Sponsoring these larger-than-life puppets and installations. Over 300 artists worked on the depiction of Lookout Mountain, Chief Dragging Canoe, Bessie Smith, Chattanooga broadcasting legend Bob Brandy and a host of notable Chattanooga figures like Luther Masingill are made out of cardboard, compressed wood and other materials like clay and styrofoam. There are hidden details through out the Lookout Mountain set like little snakes, raccoons, mountain climbers and other gems like a working incline, but there is still more to be discovered.
Wayne-O-Rama opened to hundreds people curious to see what the art project was all about. Others were there to see their work in a completed form. In a packed gift shop that had people spilling out onto the sidewalk, there was a short presentation of a joint City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County proclamation declaring today “Wayne White Day of Art and Education.”
The only noticeable fumble of the evening that caused a gasp by the crowd was shortly after the exhibit opened. A fan wanting to meet Wayne White ran over to him but was not watching where she was going. She tripped but before she fell to the ground she caught herself on the road that circles around Lookout Mountain. There was a loud crack. Everyone was in shock except for White. He reached for her to help her up. Another artist looked over the cracked road and as he was fixing it, White asked the lady if she was OK and then took the photo with her; both were smiling ear to ear.
The Wayne-O-Rama is now open between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The Shaking Ray Levi Society will host events, concerts, workshops, student field trips and special creative experiences on-site through September, 2017.
Wayne White was born and raised in Chattanooga and worked on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. White won three Emmys for his art direction on the show. White says “Wayne-O-Rama is a wonderland, straight from my imagination to yours. It is a funhouse for all ages that tells the story of Chattanooga and the South. It’s the Smithsonian Museum meets Goony Golf. It’s a celebration of the culture that shaped me and a gift to my hometown. I will use giant puppets, large-scale dioramas, peep shows, paintings and animation to tell the story of the region from pre-history to the present.”
“Wayne-O-Rama will be an inspiration for the young and old, re?ecting not only the Southern experience but also reaching out to the whole world,” says Wayne White. “It’s a vision that welcomes everyone. My hometown is already a fascinating destination for many reasons, and I’m proud to include Wayne-O-Rama as one of Chattanooga’s many glories.”