Saturday, December 15, 2012
Neon lights have lit signs for countless of years now, but looking at
wouldn’t expect them to be considered art. They are just
lights that shout “open” into
a dark street or something similar. To
most that really isn’t anything special.
Olivia Steele would beg to differ.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee the conceptual neon artist has made a
career out of
taking the bright lights and using them to spell out
idioms and statements from her
childhood. As she says, she grew up in a
home where her “Father had a statement
or idiom for everything. There
was an answer for everything with a quote” and it was
statements that Steele “found a solution and an answer to the ins and
outs of life.”
Monday, December 10, 2012
There is no easy way to define "art." Any attempt at simplification
risks making the writer sound uninformed at best. There are countless
experts and publications who have created an industry debating what is
true art, though the discourse these days seems to center more on
economic rather than artistic value.
Perhaps as a backlash, I've
heard buzz during Art Basel about another question: "What is not art?"
What exactly falls into that category? Is it the piece in the hallowed
Miami Beach Convention Center that is essentially two empty coat racks?
The neon bench? How about a performance by an artist who "pops up,"
randomly screaming in public places? Or my favorite, the live tiger in a
cage in the middle of the Hotel Victor's nightclub? Yes, live tiger.
you navigate some of the murkier waters of the 20-plus fairs around
town, I suggest you play this party game with your friends: Is It Art?
far as I'm concerned, at least for one spectacular week when Art Basel
is in Miami,
the answer is always YES. Part of that comes from the
nature of art itself,
but I like to think there is also the influence of
our Magic City. Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
have beer (or in this case, champagne) goggles, but we find beauty and
They city has opened its arms and embraces Art in all
Now, if only the bouncers working the velvet ropes at the parties were so welcoming.
What's the most outrageous thing you've seen that is – or isn't – art?
--Florencia Jimenez-Marcos is an art enthusiast who lives in Miami
Monday, December 03, 2012
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Justin Favela of the Neon Museum, with more than 150 signs from defunct Las Vegas hotels and casinos. Isaac Brekken for The New York Times
LAS VEGAS - At a gala event before the opening of the open-air Neon Museum here,
Brian Leming, a retired neon sign designer, stood surrounded by 150 hunks of metal and glowing glass.
The museum, which opened last month after 15 years of effort, and its signs,
dating from the 1930s to the '90s and arranged along a mazelike path, are increasingly
seen as expressions of history, art and architecture, worth preserving.
Mr. Leming, 72, recalled a design meeting for the Stardust Hotel-Casino, then run by
Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, a Las Vegas bookmaker and kingpin.
"We were sitting around a conference table and arguing about the right shade of purple," Mr. Leming recalled.
"And I'm thinking, Jesus, they're discussing the nuances of purple, and this is Frank Rosenthal!"
Mr. Leming is a craftsman from a bygone era, when people heated and bent glass tubes,
filled them with neon and argon gas, cut and shaped metal and fiberglass, and then hoisted them onto buildings and above roads.
The museum had drawn 20,000 visitors a year by appointment only, plus photo and film shoots,
even before it officially opened.
Bill Marion, chairman of the museum's board, said the museum would get people to realize
Las Vegas has made a significant cultural impact worldwide.
Mr. Leming had tried for 20 years to gain support for preserving the signs as many
Las Vegas properties were demolished. "'If you're going to knock it down, let's save it,' I would tell them," Mr. Leming said.
For years the signs sat in a dusty lot. Then in 2005 a quirky building with a roof shaped
like a seashell, from La Concha Motel, was donated to the museum. The 1960s lobby,
designed by Paul Revere Williams, would become the museum's visitor center.
Cutting the building into eight pieces, moving them six kilometers north and reassembling
them cost $1.2 million. Adding offices, restrooms and an outdoor deck cost another $1.6 million.
When a place receives as many visitors as the Las Vegas Strip - 41.5 million passengers
passed through McCarran International Airport last year - that can add up to a lot of stories.
Mr. Marion recalled a Venezuelan brother and sister in their 30s who teared up in front of the
Stardust sign. Their parents had gotten married at the hotel but had never been back;
the siblings grew up seeing the photo of the newlyweds on the wall.
On a recent tour, Justin Favela, the programs coordinator, paused at a giant H.
"This came from the Horseshoe casino, owned by Benny Binion, who may or may not have killed someone,"
he said. "When I gave the tour to Binion's son, Jack, he said, 'You don't have to sugarcoat it.'"
Danielle Kelly, the museum's executive director, said the value of the signs went beyond personal memories,
showing a "design that has happened here could only have happened here."
Several fonts were created and became widely used, including Atomic Age letters from the early signs of the
Stardust, which was demolished in 2007. "All this was developed in a so-called cultural wasteland," she said.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Two cowboys stand next to each other, their arms crossed, their
and their brightly colored neon chaps overlapping, the
right leg of one merging with the left leg of the other.
They were familiar sights, these neon cowboys, to anyone who visited the
Mapes Hotel-Casino in downtown Reno before its 2000 implosion.
After it opened in 1946, the Mapes was for a long time the biggest,
most modern hotel in the city.
It featured top entertainers in its Sky
Room and became the select place to stay for celebrities,
including Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe when they filmed "The Misfits."
The shine didn't last. When the Mapes closed in 1982, it was so out
the elevators still were human-operated. Still, there's plenty
of nostalgia for the old place,
as well as for other Reno landmarks that
became regular stops for tourists.
Those memories are the main
attraction of "The Light Circus: Art of Nevada Neon"
at the Nevada
Museum of Art through Feb. 10.
Reno collector Will Durham has
worked for the past decade to build the collection.
He and the museum
joined forces to restore, rewire and relight the pieces that truly
represent Reno's and the rest of Nevada's appeal through the mid-part of
the 20th century.
Neon was essential. Most of the best-known
images are gone now, but the exhibition
includes yet another cowboy,
this one in the shape of the state itself, cowboy hat worn
tilted on the
side, hand raised in greeting, and chaps ablaze; he stood over the
to the Nevada Club, now incorporated into Harrah's Reno. There
are images from Harolds Club,
also now incorporated into Harrah's, and
signs from other businesses, most notably
Parker's Western Wear, a
destination in and of itself. (160 W. Liberty St., Reno; 10 a.m. to 5
Wednesdays through Sundays, until 8 p.m. Thursdays; $10, $8 senior/
student, $1 children 6-12; 775-329-3333 or nevadaart.org).
Friday, November 16, 2012
Kitsch cool: brilliant, bold and beautiful creations to light up lives
This month, his Circus of Soho pop-up shop opens on Beak Street
November 20 to January 15), where a selection of illuminated artworks
will go on display. “Neon has a soul – it lives at night, creating
poetry with light,”
he says, whether it “promises love in Soho or hot
bagels”. His work, in short, is always brilliant.
Friday, November 09, 2012
Neon Art That Speaks to the Heart - My Modern Metropolis
For anyone who's ever experienced the highs and lows of being in love,
you'll appreciate these
neon sculptures by Olivia Steele. The London and
Berlin-based artist creates intimate statements
that evoke an emotional
response. For last year's Frieze Art Fair, she placed her neon signs in
spaces all around London in an exhibition she appropriately
called Public Displays of Affection.
As she writes on her website, "From
an East London lingerie shop to a historical religious landmark,
the Mile End foot bridge and above ordinarily dingy public toilets, her
artworks have become
beacons spanning the city – a yellow brick road of
illuminating lyrical sculpture."
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
What happens when you combine your most intimate thoughts with neon?
Tracey Emin, a provocative British artist, uses neon to shed
light (quite literally)
on what it feels like to love and live
passionately. Using neon to mimic her own
handwriting, Emin infuses her
thoughts of love and lust and hope and desire
with color. What we at
Write In Color love about her art is that she is bold
enough to put her
must vulnerable musings out there for all of us to read.
symbolism. Her art just is what it is.
And what it is, is glorious.
Some of my favorite lines from her neon art pieces include, “I listen
to the ocean and all I hear is you,”
“You should have loved ME,” and
“With you I want to live.”
For more got to
Saturday, October 27, 2012
The brightly-colored, flashing lights of neon signs and the city of
Las Vegas go together
like gin and tonic water, so it’s no surprise that
Sin City is the site of
the Neon Museum, which its founders say is the world’s largest museum of neon signage.
Saturday, when the museum opens its doors, visitors will be able to
view a collection
of more than 150 neon signs - some vintage dating back
to the 1930s, others more recent.
all the signs are an important part of the social, architectural,
design and pop-culture
history of Las Vegas, said Danielle Kelly, the
museum’s executive director.
knows the Stardust, which is highly recognized by so many people all
world,” Kelly said. The museum has three different versions of
signs from the iconic
Stardust Hotel-Casino, which was demolished in
2007 after an almost half-century run.
During its heyday, the resort was
considered the ultimate in luxury and style.
Other signs are from lesser-celebrated properties, like the one from the
Algiers Hotel - once “the place
for a power breakfast,” for locals, Kelly said.
Other signs are from
the Moulin Rouge, the Desert Inn, the Flamingo and
other bygone hotels,
restaurants, casinos and businesses.
The museum features a two-acre outdoor space known as the Neon Boneyard,
visitor center housed inside the former La Concha Motel lobby, a
modern shell-shaped building from the early 1960s.
initial effort to collect the signs began in the 1980s when a local
arts group recognized
their historic and artistic value, as many signs
were being destroyed when buildings
were torn down, Kelly said. In 1996,
the formal collection began with a handful of rescued signs.
For more go to
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum’s
newest exhibit shows off one man’s
effort to preserve the memory of neon for
Through Dec 31, the neon sign photo
collection of Denton’s own Mike Cochran
will be on display in the museum for
what Cochran hopes will generate some
fond memories and appreciation for the
If you’re like us, you barely even notice those neon signs anymore, no
matter how brightly they flash.
After all, we already know what they
say: “Girls Girls Girls” or “Open” or “Drink Budweiser.”
artist Patrick Martinez, whose work we recently spotted over at Booooooom,
has something completely different to say. Martinez uses the medium to
comment on the
world around him, whether turning his cheeky, incendiary
statements into lime green beacons
or incorporating paint for a subtler
message. Click through to see a few of our favorites from
portfolio, and then be sure to head on over to his website to check out the rest.
Friday, October 19, 2012
Thursday, October 18, 2012
The neon art of Haley Ryane Meushaw, internationally recognized neon
business owner and neon instructor of Savage Neon, Inc. since
was featured in a show of 12 neon artists from around the country.
The show was held at the Center for Architecture and organized by neon
preservationist Len Davidson of Davidson Neon in Philadelphia.
works with her husband, Charlie Meushaw, and his partner Victor Klass,
owners of Affordable Signs and Neon in Frederick, MD,
continues to practice the craft of fabricating neon signs and art.
more about the neon show here.
Neon Art Show
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
A huge neon dove of peace has been created by a local artist in response to the controversial new play about Rev Ian Paisley.
Release, a three-metre square bird by Deepa Mann-Kler, will be suspended
at the Grand Opera House from the play's opening on October 30.
Paisley & Me is produced by Martin Lynch and written by Belfast-born Ron Hutchinson.
Deepa, from Killyleagh, was appointed artist-in-residence last year with
theatre company Green Shoots. This is her fourth piece of work in that
She said: “After reading the script, I was challenged as an artist about
how I should respond to Paisley. To his 30 years of controversial
politics — or to the unprecedented step he took towards peace? I have
chosen to focus on what I feel will be his legacy, hence the use of the
dove,” she added.
Deepa worked with Adrian McNevison of AM Light in Belfast which has been using neon since 1958.
DUBAI: Painful Memory brings together seven recent neon works by
Iranian artist Saeed Farahani for his first exhibition in
Farahani’s fascination with the use of neon as an
artistic medium arises from a
nostalgia for neon signs in Tehran, which
saw its popularity boom across the city’s
landscape during the sixties
These neons heralded modernity and were a symbol of the technological advancements
that had begun in the country at the time.
also represented a fusion of art and industry, serving mainly the
tourism and trade industries. They adorned cinemas, shops,
hotels, clubs, etc.,
creating a man-made light show across the city’s
Presented at Gallery 2 at Etemad Dubai, this grouping
together of text and imagery
creates a contemplative environment to
reflect on the simple but poignant messages.
Neons have been made popular by a host of contemporary artists.
all these neons use the colour of the Iranian flag (green, white and
to evoke the ways in which change is manifested in the memory of
one that will undoubtedly be shared by a young generation of
Monday, October 15, 2012
A view of "Neon: The Luminous Material of Art." The show runs at the
Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome through Nov. 11
Ken Droege remembers his late wife, Ferae, who created neon projects
window frame with a moon and waves at his shop in Columbia.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
CINCINNATI — “Advertising,” mystic Thomas Merton wrote, “treats all
products with the
reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.”
Well, then, I’ve been to advertising’s Vatican and worshipped at the altar like a zealot.
The American Sign Museum in
Cincinnati traces Yankee commercialism from the country’s first
brands and gilt-edged placards through the garish glare of
neon-backed jetsonian plastics.
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Daryl Blanchett and the crew from Blanchett Neon spent over 100 hours
restoring the Canadian Furniture Co. neon sign.
The red, yellow and
black sign will flicker brightly along with a dozen other nostalgic
signs from Edmonton's past at the new outdoor sign museum.
Sunday, October 07, 2012
in neon. In fact it's because I'm not an artist that I'd work in neon,
since I can't think of any more forgiving media for a wannabe
conceptualist to employ. Video will conceal a multitude of sins, it's
true, absorbing any amount of banality and indecision into its grainy
surfaces. But for transcendence that comes with an on-off switch, I'm
pretty sure that you can't beat neon.
For its new group exhibition, Locals Only, Masthead Print Studio in NoLibs has partnered with DesignPhiladelphia
to celebrate this city’s vibrant drinking culture and that nostalgic
feeling of knocking back an ice-cold beer under a warm, welcoming glow
of a neon sign.
Saturday, October 06, 2012
Signs of the Times’ reports that Neon and Cold cathode lighting have
recently given the GREEN tick of approval by the UL ENERGY VERIFIED
PROGRAM. Due to efficient energy consumption, increased light output and
also the extreme longevity of neon it has been recognised as a viable
GREEN light source
Friday, September 28, 2012
SamLooking for a trade he could live on, the recent art school graduate found it with Claude Neon Federal Sign Co. in Tulsa.
Karney didn't need a sign to tell him the score. Although he would've
preferred a life of drawing and painting, he knew he also needed to pay
There, in helping new companies make their marks on the marketplace, Karney made his own in a new medium.
Among his early projects, Karney designed the sign for the original QuikTrip store, at 5204 S. Peoria Ave., in 1958.
Other businesses on the rise - including Ken's Pizza, later to become
Mazzio's, and Drysdale's Western Wear - also came to Karney over the
"He was really proud of the Drysdale's sign," his son Casey Karney said. "It was the biggest he had done.
"It was close to our home, and he liked to drive by there and show it to me."
A longtime Tulsa resident and artist who worked for and later bought Claude Neon, Samuel A. "Sam" Karney died Friday. He was 86.
A memorial service was held Tuesday at Bethany Freewill Baptist Church
in Broken Arrow under the direction of Floral Haven Funeral Home of
After graduating from high school in Muskogee, his hometown, Karney joined the Army and fought in World War II.
A member of the 89th Infantry Division's 353rd Regiment, he served from 1944 to 1948 in Belgium, Austria, France and Germany.
After his discharge, he came home and went to art school in Sarasota, Fla.
Hiring on with Claude Neon in the mid-1950s, Karney worked as an artist and salesman for the company.
An early highlight was working with QuikTrip.
According to QuikTrip co-founder Chester Cadieux, Karney was responsible for the decision to spell it "Quik," and not "Quick."
Karney recommended it, noting that the four-letter "Quik" balanced better with "Trip" visually.
Working for Claude Neon for 20 years on various projects, Karney later joined with two partners to buy the business.
An active member and past president of both the Tulsa Executive
Association and the Oklahoma Sign Association, Karney sold his part in
the business and retired in the late 1990s.
Casey Karney said his father developed a shrewd business mind and shared
it with his children, helping them, too, to become successful.
But Karney was still an artist at heart.
In his spare time, he enjoyed drawing cartoons, many of which appeared in local publications.
He also got into sculpting and, over the years, made a number of bronzes, his son said.
Karney's survivors include his four children, Kip Karney, Casey Karney,
Cindy Jordan and Amy Hatfield; eight grandchildren; and two
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Renovated Nelson's Buffeteria Sign To Hang In New Home - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |
TULSA, Oklahoma -
Buffeteria was a downtown Tulsa breakfast and lunchtime landmark.
closed almost ten years ago, but reopened on South Memorial in January.
The family wants to hang the old Buffeteria sign at the new place - but that's turning out to be quite a chore.
Matt Johnson is bending some glass for a sign at Acura Neon. He's got his work cut out for him over the next few weeks.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
neon signs that once graced some of Nevada's most iconic restaurants,
casinos, hotels, and business establishments. From flashing incandescent
bulbs to candy-colored neon tubes, the nostalgic pieces featured in The Light Circus: Art of Nevada Neon Signs
have not been seen publicly since they illuminated street side locales
decades ago. Presented in the Museum's Feature Gallery, the exhibition
will be on view Oct. 13 through Feb. 10, 2013.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
If asked to name a long-lasting light source, you'd probably name
LEDs. But as artist and fabricator David Ablon reminds us, you can find
functioning neon signage that is eighty years old and still manning its
post in front of some NYC storefront.
Ablon teaches courses in neon light fabrication at Brooklyn Glass,
a studio and teaching facility in you-know-which borough that brings
together artists, students and professionals. Check out what he does:
Monday, September 17, 2012
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Watch as Arts Council of New Orleans public art director Morgana King
leads a tour of the Iconic Sign Project that marries retro-chic neon
design with small business promotion. Search for a detailed story titled
'Iconic Signage Project blends art and business on Broad Street'
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Sunday, September 09, 2012
Saturday, September 08, 2012
A guerilla public art tour that culminates in an exhibition at Neon Workshops in Wakefield, England.
About the workYou are (on) an island is a large blue neon sign that states quite literally, "You are on an island." The word ‘on’ blinks rhythmically on and off, and for the moments that word remains unilluminated, a new phrase with a different meaning emerges - “You are an island.”
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Once only used for signage, neon has in recent years
become an important artistic medium that is being honored with a tribute
featuring the works of over 50 international artists who have created
“luminous matter” in contemporary art from this simple artificial light source.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Friday, August 17, 2012
Thursday, August 02, 2012
But a lack of funds continues to sidetrack the diving lady's return to a motel nearly two years after the sign crashed into a heap of twisted metal during a hailstorm.
Some $25,000 still is needed to reinstall the sign.
Installing the sign will require a large crane and skilled workmen to hoist each of the three animated images into place.
The diving lady once stood as a reminder of a bygone era when neon signs advertised to tourists at motels and restaurants.
Neon artist Larry Graham took on the restoration project as a tribute to his late mentor who built the sign in 1960 to advertise a swimming pool.