The building is now bright orange and patterned with checkerboard accents, rebranded as a barbecue and grill, but in 1979, when John Margolies arrived in Jacksonville, Florida, this little store was Gary’s Ice Cream. Opened in 1950, the stand was nearly 30 years old by the time Margolies photographed it on a Floridian road trip. Though the exterior looks a little worse for wear, we’ll take those prices any day.
Margolies took these trips to capture images of novelty architecture: the quirky, charming buildings he saw disappearing. His trips were funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Alicia Patterson Foundation, and architect Philip Johnson. His images were stark, deliberate, and colorful: his use of slide film lent to richer colors and more contrast, and his choice to shoot on clear, sunny days helped eliminate any visual distraction. These road trips culminated in Margolies’ Roadside America collection, an archive of over 30 years of photographs. In a review of one of Margolies’ exhibitions of these photographs, critic Paul Goldberger described it as “an articulate plea against the homogenization of the American landscape".
Gary’s Ice Cream, Jacksonville, Florida is Margolies’ seventies homage to the beautifully low-brow novelty architecture of the fifties. Though Margolies shot it in 1979, the creamery opened in 1950, and its exterior had remained mostly unchanged (though worn with love) in the 30 years between. Margolies had a soft spot for the vernacular and novelty architecture dotting the United States, and saw these quirky, charming, idiosyncratic structures as woefully neglected cultural treasures. He turned his lens to the regional constructions that reflected their respective locales, and all sorts of beautifully bizarre mimetic buildings—a huge pair of dice on a mini-golf course, a Shell gas station shaped like a clam, two giant ice cream cones hovering over Gary’s Ice Cream, calling passing travelers to temptation ... Read more on the blog!
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