HOOSIER NOSTALGIA: Indy artist paints historic drive-in restaurants

Dan Linginfelter painted The Mug, circa 2020, but he remembers when it looked much different as a root beer stand called The Frosty Mug decades ago.  Submitted photo

HANCOCK COUNTY — As a boy, Dan Linginfelter remembers stopping in for a juicy tenderloin, onion rings and frosty cold root beer at drive-in restaurant stands along U.S. 40.

“It’s just kind of a Hoosier moment, and something that I’ve been fascinated with,” said Linginfelter, a born and bred Hoosier who now lives in Indianapolis.

He and his family would drive by the Frosty Boy in Knightstown and The Frosty Mug (now called The Mug) in Greenfield — on the way to Indianapolis from their home in Dublin — 30 miles east of Greenfield.

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Earlier this year, Linginfelter recreated the current Frosty Boy and The Mug establishments on canvas.

He’s also painted the Twin Kiss ice cream stand in Sheridan.

“Those places were family to me. They had always been fascinating to me,” said Linginfelter, an accomplished artist who runs Linginfelter Arts from a studio in his home.

Painting the decades-old drive-ins and ice cream stands has been a great way for him to celebrate the Hoosier backdrop of his youth, he said.

Lininginfelter painted multiple angles of the roadside eateries from snapshots he took while out driving country roads with his wife.

“We drive around and look at places, grab a milkshake or an ice cream and take a few photos. Then I go back to my studio and paint, he said.

The couple has always loved stopping by Greenfield and visiting local shops.

“Greenfield has alway been near and dear to my heart,” said Linginfelter, who spent the past 42 years working as an art director for multiple clients.

He recently found his way back to the art studio full time after selling a software development company he helped build — Outside Source in Fishers — and spending a year in Barcelona.

“Art has been a passion of mine my entire life. I‘m just kind of reverting back to the basics,” he said.

He returned to oil painting around the same time the coronavirus sent the Midwest into lockdown in mid-March, after taking a 40-year hiatus from the medium.

Painting old-school drive-ins and ice cream stands is fueling his passion for art, as well as his nostalgia for old-school Indiana.

“I think trying to find a specific little niche like this is great. I’m a Hoosier, born and bred, and painting these things always feels like home,” he said.

Linginfelter said he’s been painting “ever since I could pick up a crayon and a paintbrush.”

After a long career as an art director, he’s thrilled to be getting back to what he loves most, and is always looking forward to that next road trip that just might lead him to his next inspiration.

He invites fellow Hoosiers to check out his paintings, at linginfelterarts.com.