Artist's obsession with Twinkies spans 4 decades


Share
Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2013, 4:37 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story

RENO, Nev. (AP) Long before Hostess Brands' plan to shut down made Twinkies the rage, Nancy Peppin found something special about the cream-filled snack cakes.

No, she doesn't have a sweet tooth for them.

But she has featured Twinkies in hundreds of pieces of quirky, satirical artwork because of an obsession with what she calls the 'ultimate American food icon.'

The prolific Reno artist says she was first influenced to focus on Twinkies in 1975 by Andy Warhol, who demonstrated that even a Campbell's soup can could be an object of art.

'He showed you a new way of looking at a familiar object,' said Peppin, who has sold and exhibited her artwork. 'That's what I'm doing with Twinkies. I'm having people look at Twinkies in a brand new way and in an entertaining way.'

Shortly after Hostess Brands Inc. announced plans to go out of business last year, Peppin was among those who joined the rush to stores to fill shopping carts with boxes of the spongy cakes.

But unlike others, she didn't buy 12 boxes with 10 Twinkies each to turn a profit on eBay or Craigslist.

'I needed art supplies,' said Peppin, who uses Twinkies and their packaging to create some of her pieces. She also features renderings of the snack cakes in watercolor paintings, mixed media, prints and artwork.

Her works include her 'Twinkies in history series,' which portrays how scientists such as John James Audubon, Charles Darwin and Leonardo da Vinci would have sketched and written about Twinkies in journals or books.

Peppin, an Oakland, Calif., native who earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1966, conducted extensive research to make the series seem as authentic as possible.

Her Audubon series on the 'North American Twinkie (twinkopus hostus)' includes illustrations of three 'important subspecies Cream-bellied Twinkie, Strawberry-throated Twinkie, Golden-backed Twinkie' as well as writings describing the 'birds' and explaining their migration patterns.

'Twinkies radiate out from the spring St. Louis breeding area to the summer nesting habitats throughout the world. Populations are heaviest in the North American 7-11 meridian,' she wrote. St. Louis and 7-Eleven stores both share a long history with Hostess and its brands.

She updated the Audubon series after Hostess shut down operations in November: 'It went from being the most popular snack cake in the world to sudden extinction due to consumption by raptors capitalist vultures (cathartes wallstreetidae).'

Her painting titled 'The Last Snack' is a takeoff of da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' featuring Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and other Hostess products at a table with the same arrangement and background as da Vinci's classic.

Her parody of a 'girly' calendar from an auto body shop features a partially undressed 'Miss Twinkie' standing next to her Harley.

The artwork reflects the offbeat sense of humor of a woman who by day creates special effects animation for Reno-based International Game Technology, one of the world's largest slot machine makers.

Steven High, executive director of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla., said he finds Peppin's artwork and use of Twinkies as a metaphor to explore various subjects clever, humorous and imaginative.

'In some ways, she takes this kind of silly item and treats it as a cultural artifact and imagines it as a subject of scientific studies,' he said. 'She's an excellent illustrator and the way she pulls these (works) together is amazing. They're fascinating and draw you in, even though the subject matter is unusual.'

Peppin foresees no end to her obsession. With many potential buyers lined up for Hostess brands, she says, Twinkies will survive into the future.

Hostess is expected to announce a bidder for Twinkies and its other snack cakes this month. Other interested parties will be able to make competing offers once the top bid is announced.

'It'll become a mutation of the species, but it'll perpetuate the species,' Peppin said. 'There are all sorts of history applications that I haven't exhausted like Twinkies being found in the ruins at Pompeii.'














 



Local events heading








  Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.








(More History)