Burgers, fries and ice cream cones now fill the Webb Gallery like they were made fresh to order. But these fast food items weren’t made in a kitchen: they were made in Camp Bosworth’s art studio.
“I have a personal sense of nostalgia for Dairy Queen,” the Marfa-based artist said. “And they have the best stuff. They have like the Blizzard, the Dilly Bar and the Belt Buster. No one else has that kind of great names for food.”
An artist for 29 years, Bosworth graduated from the University of North Texas in 1989 with a concentration in painting, but his specialty is in wood sculpting. Early in his art career, Bosworth learned how pliable wood could be and how he could sculpt it into different shapes.
He started scavenging for wood anywhere he could find, turning it into pieces of art that he could sell and display in a gallery.
“They would normally end up as firewood or in someone’s barbeque,” Bosworth explained. “I’ll drive around the neighborhood, I’ll see a tree and grab chunks of wood out of someone’s yard. I like the character that brings; working with some piece of wood I found instead of going to a lumber yard.”
“It’s also free,” he said. “Which never hurts.”
His most recent work, “Thank You, Please Drive-Thru” is an exhibit comprised of about 160 pieces of wooden sculptures inspired by Dairy Queen items, from shakes to steak fingers. His exhibition opened Sunday in Waxahachie alongside drawings by Esther Pearl Watson and pottery sculptures by local artist and longtime Waxahachie High School teacher, Carl Block.
For Bosworth, Dairy Queen holds a sentimental meaning for his childhood while growing up in Clifton, Texas. He has fond memories of spending time with his friends at Dairy Queen.
“It was just where you went as a kid,” Bosworth recalled. “You’d ride your bike down to the Dairy Queen. It was a time when we’d be gone all day on our bicycles.”
One memory he recalls fondly was when his little league coach took him and his team and treated them to Dairy Queen. Sundaes, Dilly Bars: the whole menu was open to Bosworth.
“Of course, the losing team would be there too,” Bosworth remarked.
Later on, Bosworth realized that many people had their own stories and experiences to share from Dairy Queen, just like he did.
“A pretty wealthy collector of mine said ‘Guess what was my very first job was as a kid?’ Dairy Queen,” he recalled. “He was like a fry cook when he was 16 in high school. Now he’s a real successful attorney.”
Included in his exhibit are an 11-foot Dairy Queen sign, a six-foot-long banana split and a table full of wooden ice cream cones. He also has approximately 30 straws and 30 “plastic” spoons, which he plans to sell to the public during gallery hours.
“The fast-foodness is multiplication and plastic and disposable,” he explained. “I’m taking that idea and making it a little more permanent by redoing it in wood and making it into art. So instead of taking a plastic straw and throwing it away, I made it something that you’d want to keep forever.”
Living near the Mexico border, Bosworth’s bio on his website says he’s unavoidably influenced by narcocorridos, translated as “drug ballads,” and the ongoing cartel wars at the border. Bosworth said working on “Thank You, Please Drive-Thru” was incredibly fun and freeing for him.
“As an artist, you think it needs to be serious, or it needs some kind of political or social message,” he empathized. “I’m just carving a butter pecan sundae. It’s not about slavery or something. It’s just kind of fun to make a sundae.”
Although his exhibit is based around fast food, Bosworth said he doesn’t consume much fast food anymore and usually resorts to eating at home.
“I think I consumed enough of it when I was a kid,” he said.
However, he still appreciates Dairy Queen’s menu. And, while he enjoys the banana split and the Hungr-Buster, Bosworth said his favorite item has to be the dilly bar.
“I really like the dilly bar,” he said, smiling. “If I was to drop by a Dairy Queen right now, I’d probably get a dilly bar.”
Bosworth said he plans to continue the Dairy Queen theme into his next show, which will debut in January at the Galveston Arts Center.
“I usually stick with a theme for a couple of years so I can really explore all of the ideas I have,” Bosworth said. “I don’t think I would do a bunch of Whataburger paintings next.”
The exhibit opened at 4 p.m. Sunday night at the Webb Gallery at 209 W Franklin Street. Exhibit hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m., and the exhibit runs through Nov. 25.
David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX