See My Show at the Sears Art Museum
Now thru January 15th, 2021
A polar bear towers into the dark, stormy sky. The White King. A dirty window covered in rain drops. Scattered pools of water glowing bright red off the the black pavement. The surreal scene inspired me to get out in the wind and rain and walk around the grit for blocks.
It was so bizzare to run into a giant polar bear in the desert during a rare rain storm. King of a melting world, it towered above an empty parking lot as the mascot of a dilapidated casino by the same same, in the remote small town of Elko, Nevada.
This image is one of the photos you can see by visiting my show at the Sears Art Museum in Dixie University in St. George!
Like the Polar Bear, and old casinos, neon lighting has seen it’s dominance melt away. It’s becoming a lost art. So lost, in fact, that when I made a list of known neon signs and set out to find them during the summer of 2019 I was shocked and disappointed to find out that at least half, if not most of the items on my list were non functional or destroyed to make room for new construction.
But while it’s a disappearing art there’s still hope it won’t be completely lost. There are a lot of people who adore the art of neon even more than me, and they are working hard to collect and preserve these signs before they disappear forever. The Neon Museum in Las Vegas seems to be doing well and is slowly restoring their massive collection of large signs. Farther north, Will Durham, who owns the largest private collection of neon in the world, is working with the city of Reno to create a similar museum for his pieces. Additionally, a number of other organizations in Nevada are working to create a digital archive of what is left and what has already disappeared.
Not all of these images, like this one, are in the show. But, like my Buckskin Tavern image from a few years ago, I had driven past this sign in Moapa Valley many times and never noticed it. In the day time it looks like broken garbage so I was stunned when I came back from Valley of Fire one night and it was lit up in perfect working order.
Wait a minute, this isn’t neon, is it??? No, it’s not. But most of this scene is being lit up by a huge, garish neon sign across the street. And I put it in here as an answer to what the future holds if neon fades away. This is from an unlikely sculpture garden in downtown Reno. The bottom of this sculpture, which is 16 feet high and in front of a block-long mural, is lit by a color cycling LED light. LED lights are the main replacement of neon in our current world. But they don’t look the same and have even caused an uproar, as when the famous Felix the Cat sign in Los Angeles was converted to LED in 2012.