On a cold, blustery day in November, our little family went to visit the Wayne-O-Rama installation on Rossville Avenue. It was the opening day and the place was packed with other curious Chattanoogans. We all wanted a peek into the wild and wonderful mind of artist Wayne White. Wayne is a native Chattanoogan and came back to the Scenic City to create an installation of Chattanooga’s history and notable figures. Inspired by the tourist attractions of his youth in Chattanooga, White describes Wayne-O-Rama as the "Smithsonian Museum meets Gooey Golf," and you can see his kooky sensibility the moment you walk in.
[Lula and friends at the Puppet Parade on Glass Street.]
Wayne-O-Rama kicked off in September with a puppet parade on Glass Street where 14 foot likenesses of Union General Sherman and Confederate General Cleburne were the main attraction. Wayne and his wife, cartoonist and writer, Mimi Pond then moved to Chattanooga to work on the installation. Over 700 artists and volunteers from Chattanooga, Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago and even Nantucket helped with the painting, cutting, sewing and glueing that became Wayne-O-Rama. The whole installation was made from wood, cardboard, styrofoam and lots of paint.
[Can you spon the Gnome? On the right you can see the top of the Incline Railway.]
[A small tourist at Rock City trying to see seven states. Wayne, dressed as Davey Crockett, and his wife Mimi.]
The installation features a replica of Lookout Mountain complete with a working Incline Railway and a tourist looking off the mountain from Rock City. A little red truck climbs the curvy mountain road past Craven’s (and Billy and Jane’s) House while gnomes, snakes and racoons peek from behind rocks and trees. Further on you see Chief Dragging Canoe, founder if the Chickamauga Tribe towering over a beautiful river and waterfall.
Towards the back you will find likenesses of local celebrities Olan Mills, Luther, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Brandy and Bessie Smith. We were all totally facinated and will be returning as there are so many details we missed. Chattanooga is so lucky to claim Wayne White and have him create this fantastic celebration of his home town. White is known for his set design on Pee Wee Herman's playhouse for which he won 3 emmys. He also created the fantastical dream world in the Smashing Pumpkin's music video "Tonight, Tonight," and is more recently known for his word paintings; funny phrases or words painted 3 dimensionally over vintage paintings. If you would like to own a piece of his art, might I suggest a word painting tray from Fishs Eddy or Smart Furniture Studio.
[The red truck actually drives up and down Lookout Mountain.]
Wayne-O-Rama is located at 1800 Rossville Avenue, #108 Chattanooga, TN 37408 and is open to the public Wedensday thru Sunday 11 am till 6 pm. Admision is free, donations welcome. Like them on facebook for details about special events like concerts and special holiday hours. If you are not in Chattanooga, check out the amazing and inspiring documentary on White, Beauty is Embarassing.