Ice cream, roadside fiberglass, Caillebotte, and more

Today’s Zippy takes us lots of places:


It shows our Pinhead talking French Impressionism with a roadside ice cream stand that happens to be a fiberglass replica of an ice cream cone. (In Zippy, roadside fiberglass artifacts are almost always chatty.)  Degas (gauzy ballerinas), Monet (soft-focus water lilies), but especially Gustave Caillebotte: men scraping floors and flying, drying, laundry.

Where to start? I’ll go with the building.

Twistee Treats. From Roadside Architecture:

Twistee Treat buildings are 28 feet tall and 20 feet wide fiberglass ice cream cones topped with cherries. [Note that Bill Griffith has chosen to have this one topped with chocolate rather than a cherry, and has removed any signage.] The design was created by Robert G. “Skip” Skinner who built the first location in North Fort Myers in 1982. The buildings were produced in Cape Coral, FL. They were made from 19 pieces of fiberglass and assembled on-site. By 1986, there were 30 locations, all of them in Florida. It is believed that about 90 of these buildings were produced over the years. About half of them have been demolished.

In 1990, the company filed for bankruptcy. A new company was formed in 1996. In 1999, this new Twistee Treat Corporation still managed 35 locations in Florida and Missouri and planned to expand to Georgia and Texas. These new locations were to offer gourmet coffee, burgers, and other food. The interiors were to feature swivel stools, white fiberglass counters, and a white and magenta color scheme. However, I don’t believe any of these new buildings were ever built. The company ceased to exist around 2000. Before becoming defunct, Twistee Treat sold the franchising rights to a company in Canada. Using the name of Twirlees, the company produced similar, smaller mobile units and trucks. There were several of these units in Florida. There was one of these units at the Twistee Treat in Ocala, FL which was moved to West Chester, OH …

In 2010, an Orlando-based company was established to revive the Twistee Treat chain. In 2011, Twistee Treat USA opened a location in Orlando, FL. The company now has 13 locations in Florida: Kissimmee (3), Tampa (3), Orlando (2), Davenport, Spring Hill, Sebring, Tarpon Springs, and Sheldon.

Despite the close connection to Florida, the building in #1 is almost surely the one in Perry MI, which has been there since 2006 and goes by the name of King Kone. View from the back:


It has a Facebook page.

Digression: the name King Kone and the category FASTFOOD. An obvious play on King Kong, suggesting that the cones at this place are gigantic.

There are a huge number of ice cream stands and trucks using the name King Kone, most of which seem to have nothing to do with the others; it’s a play on words that seems to have occurred independently to many people. Here’s a cute one in Somers NY (in northeastern Westchester County):


You’ll see from the signs that the place offers more than ice cream. In fact, it sells a variety of food: buffalo wings, fried shrimp, fried clam strips, burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken breasts, lobster rolls, chicken nuggets and fingers, corn dogs, BLT sandwiches, fries of several types, cole slaw, and more — an assemblage of things that constitute a cultural category (in the U.S., at least), but one that has no standard name. Since it’s a category of things conventionally offered in fast-food restaurants (we can argue about the lobster rolls, but then category boundaries are rarely crisp), I’ll use the category label FASTFOOD.

On to Caillebotte. The artist has come up on this blog only once before, as far as I can see: in a 9/29/11 posting on the eccentric artist Vik Muniz, where I quoted a New Yorker piece on him:

[Muniz’s pictures] are collaged from torn scraps of magazines that are greatly enlarged in the massive, grainy final product, an art-historical image that comes together only when you see the work from a distance. The accumulation of brushstrokes in paintings by Degas, Caillebotte, Cézanne, and Caspar David Friedrich is suggested by the rough edges of bits of paper, but the content of those bits (Kate Moss, Woody Allen, a body builder, the Chanel logo) suggests the irresistible tug of pop culture

Now, from Wikipedia:

Gustave Caillebotte (… 19 August 1848 – 21 February 1894) was a French painter, member and patron of the group of artists known as Impressionists, though he painted in a much more realistic manner than many other artists in the group. Caillebotte was noted for his early interest in photography as an art form.

He painted scenes of upper-class Parisian life, — for instance, Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877, more on which below, and portraits of his family and friends — but also of working-class life (that drying laundry and those men scraping floors, and also gardeners at work). He retired young from painting, then became important as a collector and a patron of artists.

… His art was largely forgotten until the 1950s when his descendents began to sell the family collection. In 1964, The Art Institute of Chicago acquired Paris Street; Rainy Day, spurring American interest in the artist.

That famous painting:


Caillebotte did at least two paintings of laundry drying — the one below (Laundry Drying, Petit Gennevilliers, 1892) and Laundry Drying on the Banks of the Seine, ca. 1892.


Then the scrapers, or planers:


From Wikipedia, with a substantial essay on the painting and its history:

Les raboteurs de parquet (English title: The Floor Scrapers) is an oil painting by French Impressionist Gustave Caillebotte. The canvas measures 102 by 146.5 centimetres (40.2 in × 57.7 in). It was originally given by Caillebotte’s family in 1894 to the Musée du Luxembourg, then transferred to the Musée du Louvre in 1929. In 1947, it was moved to the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, and in 1986, it was transferred again to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, where it is currently displayed.

Caillebotte’s originality laid in his attempt to combine the careful drawing, modeling and exact tonal values encouraged by the Académie with vivid colors, bold perspectives, keen sense of natural light and modern subject matter of the Impressionist movement. Painted in 1875, this work illustrates Caillebotte’s continued interest in perspective and everyday life. In the scene, the observer stands above three workers on hands and knees, scraping a wooden floor in a bourgeois apartment—now believed to be Caillebotte’s own studio at 77, rue de Miromesnil, in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. A window on the back wall admits natural light. The workers are all shown with nude torsos and tilted heads, suggesting a conversation. Caillebotte’s interest in the male nude [plus the fact that he never married], set in a modern context, has been linked to his presumed homosexuality. It must be noted, however, that it was part of a larger trend, not necessarily limited to homosexual artists, that was first introduced by Courbet in a painting of two wrestlers (Szépmüvézeti Museum, Budapest). This is one of the first paintings to feature the urban working class. It reintroduces the subject of the male nude in the painting, but in a strikingly updated form. Instead of the heroes of antiquity, here are the heroes of modern life — sinewy and strong — in stooped poses that would appear demeaning if they did not convey a sense of masculine strength and honest labor. There is a motif of curls in the image, from the wood shavings on the floor, to the pattern of ironwork in the window grill to the arched backs and arms of the workers. The repetition in the image, with the three workers engaged in different aspects of the same activity but having similar poses, is similar to works by Caillebotte’s contemporary, Edgar Degas.

Despite the effort Caillebotte put into the painting, it was rejected by France’s most prestigious art exhibition, the Salon, in 1875. The depiction of working-class people in their trade, not fully clothed, shocked the jurors and was deemed a “vulgar subject matter”.

Oh my, oh my. Shudders from the Salon.

(Preparing this posting led me through a great many of Caillebotte’s paintings, which show great variety in style and subject matter — there are also fine still-lifes of food, and Impressionist flower and garden paintings. A very satisfying art tour.)

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