If you’re still thinking of Tacoma artist Lynn Di Nino as a concrete sculptor it’s time to get up to date. In the last few years Lynn has turned her hand to everything from jewelry to coffee filters as a medium, and her latest expedition into mixed-media art involves junk food. Specifically, Twinkies – and Sno Balls, Ding Dongs, Cupcakes and various other Hostess food products – enshrined in snarky, tongue-in-cheek installations at Flow Gallery that’ll have you laughing (and reaching for the organic whole wheat).
Around the walls of tiny Flow on Puyallup Avenue are around 15 of these sculptures. Enclosed behind plastic muffin-tray lids, they preserve Twinkies (in hand-made vintage packaging – look for the stitches) in any number of ‘archival’ situations. They perch in a rusty Radio Flyer toy wagon or huddle in WWI-era ration cans. They’re inserted phallically by tiny toy hands into a suggestive jack-in-the-box hole, or pounced on by a miniature Howdy Doody puppet, made in clay by Di Nino with a Wallace-and-Gromit innocence.
They sail in a Moses basket through reeds, and prove their preservative-laden longevity by supplying old Antarctic expeditions and ancient car-trunk emergency kits.
On the wall labels are clever names, complete with the entire eight-line chemical ingredient list, which is an artwork in itself.
The idea, apparently, came about when Di Nino heard of the Hostess company’s takeover and read that all these classic American non-food products were to be discontinued. “I wanted to immortalize them,” she says. As it turns out, the products were to continue, but the idea was too fun to pass up.
She even convinced a dozen or so artist friends to sculpt their own tiny creations from smooshed-up Wonder Bread, which not only makes rather cute turtles, bunnies and sheep but appears to sit quite happily in a gallery case without any trace of mold.
Di Nino’s arch contrivance of her “archeological finds” gets a little monotonous, and the wall sculptures aren’t particularly dramatically displayed. But her whole ode to the fakeness, cheeriness and archival quality of Hostess junk food is truly funny – though it might turn you into a vegan for a week.
Lynn Di Nino’s “The Survivors” is open 5-8 p.m. April 6 (plus next door at Gallery 301), 19 and by appointment through April. Free. Flow Gallery, 301 A Puyallup Ave., Tacoma. 253-255-4675, firstname.lastname@example.org