Neon + Fire: The Art of Tube Neon Bending // Tenderloin Museum

On August 2nd Shawna Peterson and Libby Cahill will host a neon letterform bending demonstration on-site at the Tenderloin Museum. Peterson is the artist responsible for the glowing “Home” sign-sculpture in the Tenderloin Museum’s Neon Home gallery show, and she has earned a reputation as a master tubebend and torchbearer for the light source. Her work has been featured in Wired and KQED’s Bay Curious podcast, and her piece “Neon Noise Reduction,” commissioned by Dolby Laboratories, is contemporary masterpiece of intricacy and craft. Peterson will be joined by fellow tubebender Libby Cahill for an up-close demonstration of the by-hand processes that go into creating a new neon, meticulously shaping and slicing tubes against white-hot flames. Neon Home will be on display in the Tenderloin Museum gallery through August 12, 2018. 

This event is part of a pair of events that explore the nature of neon: SF Neon/Historic Neon Network’s Tenderloin Neon A-Z Walking Tour on July 26th, with SF Neon founders Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan. Randall and Al will take us into the field for a up-close and lit-up survey of the TL’s historic neon signs! The pair are seasoned guides for neighborhood-centric neon expeditions, but this will be their first foray to focus exclusively Tenderloin signage. Al and Randall’s historical and preservationist expertise will be augmented by typographic insights by Dr. Shelley Gruendler, the featured speaker at SF Neon and Tenderloin Museum’s SF Design Week event, “Light Source and Letterforms.”

The abundance of functioning neons in the Tenderloin is emblematic of the the neighborhood’s tenacious spirit. The high density of historic SRO hotels turned protected, low-income housing (such as the Essex and Senator) means an inordinate number of fascinating examples of vintage neon. Then there are the many iconic bar signs, such as the Ha-Ra’s stern, slender red and Aunt Charlie’s loopy indoor pink. On this stroll, you will learn about the urban factors and aesthetic trends that have enabled neon to thrive in the Tenderloin and persevere through several periods of change and neighborhood renewal.

More info here.