In the history of children's television, no show will ever be as smart, funny and visually stimulating as Pee-wee's Playhouse. I catch glimpses of Dora the Explorer, which is about as invigorating as cardboard, and the supremely un-subtle SpongeBob SquarePants, and wonder why more children's television doesn't aspire to the genius of Pee-wee. It was really sweet-natured and intelligent, and it worked on so many levels. One of the best things about the show was its compelling production design, which really brought an off-kilter, wacky and colorful sensibility to Pee-wee's adventures and lodged in your head the way few images do. If you asked me today what Pee-wee's living room looked like, I could describe it down to the floorboards and Chairry's upholstery. Wayne White was one of the people responsible for that legendary production design, and that on its own is enough reason to want to pick his brain for hours. But White is also the man behind visually arresting music videos like Peter Gabriel's "Big Time" or the Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight," and he also paints surreal and tongue-in-cheek updates of generic drugstore lithographs and prints. White promises a fascinating evening as he lectures at the Modern Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St., at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Tuesday Evening at the Modern presentation is free, but admission tickets are first come, first serve at the admission desk beginning at 5 p.m. the evening of the lecture. Visit themodern.org for more information.
Tue., Sept. 22, 7 p.m., 2009