Local museum features neon art championed by LGBTQ+ artists

ByJ.J. Zavalla KABC logo
Friday, October 27, 2023
Local museum features neon art championed by LGBTQ+ artists
The Museum of Neon Art in Glendale invites audiences to explore and learn the fascinating queer histories behind some of their neon installations.

October is LGBTQ+ History Month, and the folks at The Museum of Neon Art in Glendale are celebrating with a special exhibit.

Neon art has been championed by the LGBTQ+ community for decades. ABC7 Community News Producer J.J. Zavalla talked to some artists and experts in the field to tell us more.

Eric Lynxwiler, Board President for the Museum of Neon Art: "You really have to work and work and work in order to learn how to bend that glass tube over and open flame. They have to pump it full of gas and phosphor and then electrify it."

Corrie Siegel, Executive Director of the Museum of Neon Art: "The Museum of Neon Art is an exhibition space and also a classroom where we teach the art and craft of neon glassblowing. We preserve history of Southern California, so we have signs from the 1920s to present day. In the 1920s, it was seen as the height of class the height of technology. During the time period of the 1980s when Mona was founded, neon was seen as kind of trashy. It was seen as almost like blight. A lot of times when that happens, it's the people on the fringes. It's the artists that are seeing things from the outside and they're understanding this is material that is very powerful and potent. So artists, many of them part of the LGBTQ community, decided to champion this art form."

Rachel Mason, filmmaker: "Circus of Books became a kind of legendary store. They really catered to the gay community primarily to have a place where it was like, no, no, no, you're fine. You can have your books, here's your magazines, it was a place where you could just not be judged."

Buck Angel: LGBTQ+ advocate: "This (Body Builders Gym) is the bodybuilding gym that was in Silver Lake. I'm a transsexual man, so I transitioned to live as a female. That being said, I would go to that gym, I remember, it was just this camaraderie that you got. So when I see signs like that, I just remember my own history and how important that space was to me."

Mason: "Knowing that it's surrounded by other iconic signage from the LGBT world to be preserved and honored and cherished. It just feels amazing."

Lynxwiler: "If it's on a grocery store market, if it's liquor, motels, or live nude girls, that neon sign was made by hand. And more often than not, that neon sign might find a home at The Museum of Neon Art."

Siegel: "Neon was not seen as something worth preserving. And it's due to these folks that were kind of just doing the work in the shadows steadily working towards preservation, that we have this museum - that we have preserved these histories. So it's a big deal that we're finally recognizing the queer history of this museum, because it would not exist without that leadership."

The neon exhibition is part of the 2023 Circa Queer Histories Festival, presented by the One Institute.

The Museum of Neon Art will host a presentation and talk about the exhibit on Sunday, October 29 from 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m.

You can find more information on the panel discussion here.