“Art,” William T. Wiley once said, “is the one place you can do exactly as you please and nobody can tell you differently.” What Wiley wanted to do was to create art that exceeded categorization. Technically, though, he’s a creator of “Funk Art,” a Northern California school that included sculptor Robert Arneson and has also gone by the names of “Dude Ranch Dada” and “Pop Western,” among other titles. Nomenclature aside, here’s what Wiley is about: intricate, illustrative detail, folk-art inspiration, a wry sense of humor, and a subtle political message. This October, the Smithsonian American Art Museum brings together 88 works from 1960 to the present for “What’s It All Mean,” the first retrospective of the artist’s work in 30 years. Visitors to the museum will have a unique opportunity to play Wiley’s global warming-themed, fully functional pinball machine “Punball: Only One Earth” on Oct. 15 and 16, Nov. 12, and Dec. 3 and 17.
The Exhibition is on View from 11:30 A.M. to 7 P.M. daily, from Oct. 2 to Jan. 24, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Streets NW. Free. 202-633-1000.