Art exhibit to benefit Vaudeville Theatre restoration at the Turnage Theatre

Published 8:00 am Saturday, September 30, 2023

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By Clark Curtis, For the Washington Daily News

Artist Graham White has worn many hats over the years. Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, he taught art there for 20 years. As a Fulbright Scholar he came to the US and taught art at high school in Florida. He has sculpted styrofoam figures for the interiors of discotheques in Germany and has done caricature work for Disney, Microsoft, Amazon, and many ad agencies. Over the years he also has developed a true admiration for vaudeville. “Vaudeville is simple and funny,” said White. “I love the costumes, the over the top approach by the actors rather than the use of technology. There are those who still do it and are quite lucky, actually. As are we the audience.”

It’s this fascination for vaudeville which has led to Whites’ personal art exhibit that will be on display at the Turnage Theatre throughout the month of October. “I have seen the Vaudeville Theater at the Turnage and it is simply amazing,” said White. “I would like to do whatever I can to help to restore it and bring it back to life again so everyone can have an opportunity to take a step back in time. If that were to happen it would be fantastic. My hope is that the exhibit can serve as a jumpstart to making this possible.”

On display will be many of White’s wood carvings, puppets, lino prints, photographs, acrylic paintings, caricatures, sketches, and a lifetime of doodles. “I don’t know if people will buy anything. But I’m hoping that the exhibition is so interesting for those who attend, that they feel it is of value to them to walk around, take a look, and make a donation to benefit the Vaudeville Theatre restoration. I will also have top hats upside down throughout the exhibit, for those who are inclined to make a donation on the spot. And whether people buy one of my pieces or make a donation, all of the proceeds will go towards the restoration.”

White said he also hopes that the exhibit will serve as an inspiration for others. “Hopefully it will inspire folks to pick up a pencil, a paintbrush, or a wood carving tool and simply do something for themselves,” said White. “It is almost as if people have become “brain dead” as a result of all of the technology that is around as they are glued daily to their computers, smartphones, and TV’s. We are all being programmed to be consumers. Perhaps the exhibit will be that lightbulb for some to say, “I think I could do something like this.”

For White, it has been an interesting journey over the years. “It has never been a linear path for me,” said White. “Perhaps it is because I saw my dad work his whole life as a shopkeeper and grocery person. As a result I have never been one to go on a path of you have to do this, which will lead to that. My “non-linear” approach has always been to do a little of this and do a little of that, and see where it leads. It is like being rather than doing. It makes life so much more interesting for me. And I must say I have been very lucky.“

The exhibit will run through the month of October. A reception will be held on the evening of October 13.