Movie: Beauty is Embarrassing, The Wayne White Story


Movie Poster for Beauty is Embarrassing, The Wayne White Story via Beaty is Emabarrassing web site.

Working at Disney and living in southern California in the late 80’s, I didn’t know anyone who wasn’t intrigued by or didn’t watch Pee Wee’s Playhouse.  Personally I didn’t miss it.  Just the quirkiness and the design of the set alone had me hooked.  A lot of that had to do with the artist who is featured in the movie, Beauty is Embarrassing, The Wayne White Story.  Wayne is a multi talented artist, and won a number of Emmy’s for his design work and puppetry on Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

The film is a documentary if you will on Wayne, his background and his journey as an artist.  I found his sense of humor and kookiness hysterical and his work in different mediums inspiring; painting, puppetry, sculpture, often using cardboard, discarded, and found objects.  He seems like such a playful artist and just does what he feels like is the flavor of the day.

Wayne is also known for his word paintings.  Taking discarded  or thrift store art and creating phrases in colorful letters with colorful messages that, well let’s just say aren’t  very politically correct.  If you are offended by the “f” bomb, don’t watch.  If you are intrigued on how this country boy from Tennessee ended up in New York, landing a job with Paul Reubens on Pee Wee’s Playhouse, then moving to LA to continue to work on the show, win three Emmys, plus come into his own as an artist, then give it a try.    If you have Netflix you can stream it from the documentary section or rent it from iTunes.

You can also check our Wayne’s book, edited by designer Todd Oldham, Wayne White: Maybe Now I’ll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve.


Watercolor Sketch: Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery


Watercolor Sketch on Hand Made Paper

The Watercolor Sketch Travelogue Series,  continues leaving Thailand going back to Hong Kong.  This one was done at the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin in the New Territories of Hong Kong.  The monastery was completed in 1957, but it took an additional 10 years to complete and add the 13,000 Buddha statues on the main temple walls.  Incidentally even though the name is 10, 000 Buddhas Monastery, there are 13,000.  In Cantonese, 10,000 denotes a large number of something.

This sketch was done at the bottom of the hill and is of a more Thai influenced statue with 4 faces.

Movie Review: Leonie


Leonie is the story of Leonie Gilmour who was a writer and  the editorial assistant to poet Yone Noguchi.  She became his wife and had a son, artist, sculpture, and designer Isamu Noguchi.  Set in the early 20th century the film chronicles her life meeting Yone, the trials and tribulations of marrying him, the time she lived with her mother in Pasadena California, and her eventual move to Japan to reunite with her philandering husband, and the birth of her daughter, Ailes Gilmour.  (Yone Noguchi is not Ailes’ father.)

I was anxious to see this film. When it was released in the theater, it only played in one theater that was 2 hours from my house!  I couldn’t believe a city as large as Orlando couldn’t support this movie in at least one theatre. We noticed it was available on iTunes so we rented it last weekend.

I’m always drawn to anything relating to Japanese culture, and for those who have studied Interior Design, they are probably familiar with the lighting and furniture designed by Noguchi.  From the movie trailer I expected the film to cover the life of Isamu a bit more, however the movie is titled Leonie and is really more of her life story than his.  The latter part of the film does touch on her support of the artistic endeavors of her son. She made him design their house in Japan when he was 10,  and upon her insistence, he left medical school to pursue his life as an artist.

Noguchi Table

 Noguchi Table via Herman Millers web site.

I wasn’t blown away by the film but did enjoy it. It does portray Leonie as a strong independent free spirit.    Anytime I learn something and enjoy the production design, sets, and scenery I’m happy.  I also enjoyed the performance of Emily Mortimer as Leonie.

I was intrigued to do more research on Leonie, Isaumu and Ailes after watching the film.  I never knew that Isamu graduated from La Porte High School in Indiana, my home state.  And Ailes after graduating high school went on to study dance and performing arts and was one of the first dancers to join Martha Graham’s first professional dance troupe.


 Noguchi Lamp available via Noguchi Museum’s web site’s shop

If you are interested in Noguchi, Japanese Culture, and period films, I would recommend seeing Leonie.  There is also a wonderful web site,, which is the site for the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, accessible by public transport from Manhattan.  Many of Noguchi’s products, lamps, furniture and objects can be ordered through the museum shop on line.


Watercolor Sketch and Painting, Chinese Shoes

Kim Minichiello

Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

There is a street near the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road in Hong Kong called Cat Street.  Although it’s touted as a street to find antiques, and some of the actual shops do sell antiques.  The stalls along the street are mostly things made for tourists that appear to be antiques.  That being said it is still fun to wander, and look and shop because there is a lot of cool stuff there.  But remember, if you do buy anything bargaining for the best price, or what you are willing to pay is imperative!  Sometimes what you are willing to pay is still a big profit for the sellers!  But, you walk away happy with your treasure and the seller is happy they made a sale.

One seller has a bunch of embroidered shoes.  Since I love textiles and  the beautiful colors of these shoes,  I went one day to do a plein air sketch of some of them lying in a basket.  As I was doing the sketch I knew I wanted to develop this idea further.  I took photos and used them, and my sketch as reference for a larger painting.

Kim MinichielloChinese Shoes, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 15″ x 11″, 38 cm x 28 cm

This is the larger painting, Chinese Shoes,  that was exhibited in a summer exhibition at Brushstrokes Gallery, in Hong Kong from an invitation from artist, and my good friend, Isabelle Lim.


Friday Feature Interview

Kim Minichiello


Chinese Wall Tile, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 12″ x 12″, 30.5cm x 30.5cm

Click HERE if you would like more information or to purchase this painting.

I wanted to share with you today a link to an interview I did for another guest blog post on watercolorist, Carrie Waller’s blog.  Every Friday she features another artist on her blog.  The interview is quite extensive and I really enjoyed doing it.  There is more information there than what I currently have on my bio!  If you are interested in learning a bit more about me and my artistic journey, and my time at Walt Disney Imagineering,  click here to read the interview for Carrie’s Friday Feature that features yours truly. 🙂

Watercolor Sketch Chedi Beach, Phuket Thailand


Watercolor on Handmade Paper

One of the things I loved living in Hong Kong, was you are centrally located to travel all over Asia.  The airport is a breeze to get to from Central with the Airport Express train which departs from the IFC tower.  You can even check your bags at the train terminal so you don’t have to do it at the airport!  We went on a long weekend holiday to Phuket Thailand.  My previous trip to Thailand was during the design phase of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, visiting Bangkok and Chang Mai for research.  It was wonderful to see the beautiful beaches in the South.  This sketch was done on the beach.  There was a family that set up in an outdoor kitchen to serve lunch to the guests at the nearby hotel.  The food was scrumptious.  One of their little boys came over and talked to me while I was painting.  He was so intrigued he kept touching the paint as I was putting it down.  I have a little souvenir of his fingerprint on the sketch!


Watercolor Sketch, Kawadoko: Dessert Above the Kibune River, Japan

www.kimminichiello.comWatercolor Sketch on handmade paper, Kibune, Japan

This is such a simple sketch but has such fond meaning and memories for me.  When visiting Kyoto. My daughter and I took a day trip to the northern mountains to the villages of Kurama and Kibune.  Fist we took the train to Kurama and enjoyed time in a traditional japanese onsen, a public bathing house, fed by hot springs.  We were the only non Japanese there but we felt right at home soaking in the outdoor tub under the forest canopy.  There are a number of rituals one must partake in before entering the tub.  Since language was a definite barrier here, we relied on what we had seen in the Miyazaki film, My NeighborTotoro, which is one of our favorites, for clues to the preparation before entering the big bath!

www.kimminichiello.comForest from Kurama to Kibune

After a relaxing soak we continued on into the forest to hike the trail to Kibune.  The walk took several hours but was not strenuous.  The forest was magical.  There are a number of small temples and shrines to take a rest and reflect on the beauty of this place.  We reached Kibune in the late afternoon and scoped out the restaurants and made reservations for dinner.  Kibune is a small village nestled right in the forest along the Kibune River.  In the summer the restaurants place covered platforms above the river for dining and it flows beneath you as you dine Japanese style inches above the water.  This is knows as kawadoko.

www.kimminichiello.comRestaurant platforms above the Kibune River-Kawadoko

Kim MinichielloOne of our courses during our kaiseki meal

 After visiting the Kibune Shrine we settled into our spot for dinner.  We were served a kaiseki meal, which is a multi course meal of a variety of Japanese delicacies.  Between courses we could lean over to the side of the platform and dip our feet into the cool rushing water below, nice after a day of hiking!  When we were served dessert, this simple piece of melon, I did this watercolor sketch.  The whole day was such an amazing experience.  I will never forget it and I have my sketch to take me right back there!

www.kimminichiello.comLanterns above a dining area

Acceptance into the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society’s 34th Annual Juried International Exhibition


Mayan Gate, Watercolor, 14.5″ x 21.5″, 55 cm x 37cm

A great way to start the month of July!  Wanted to share today that my painting Mayan Gate has been accepted into the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society’s  34th Annual Juried International Exhibition!  This is a prestigious international show and I’m honored to be in the company of so many wonderful artists.  Thank you to juror Pat Dews!

The show will be from October 5 – November 15, 2013 at the Crary Art Gallery, 511 Market Street in Warren, PA.