REGISTER FOR

2020

NEON

SPEAKS

A celebration of neon art, design, and vintage neon signs.

These vibrant creations have evolved from advertising to art and cultural landmarks. Join us at Neon Speaks Festival & Symposium and meet neon advocates, artists, and preservationists. Neon Speaks is produced by Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan of SF Neon in proud partnership with the Tenderloin Museum and the Museum of Neon Art, with grants from SF Heritage and the National Trust of Historic Preservation.

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION

Donating Early Bird Pass Holders receive a printed souvenir program for Neon Speaks 2020 with a full schedule, speaker biographies, photos, program notes and symposium details.

Donating Early Bird Pass Holders receive a printed souvenir program for Neon Speaks 2020 with a full schedule, speaker biographies, photos, program notes and symposium details.

SCHEDULE 2020

First Weekend, September 25-26-27

DAY 1 Friday Sessions 9/25/20


Photo: SFLP History Center

INTRO TO NEON:  Beginning to See the Light
12:30 am-1:30 pm PST Friday, September 25, 2020
If this is your first time to attend Neon Speaks, this is a great session to find out what the hubbub about neon is all about. Neon history will be revealed, and the science of neon explained. Find out more about the rise and fall of neon’s popularity and how cinematographers used neon signs to enhance a spectrum of moods in the film.  Single ticket or All Event Pass

Photo: Randall Ann Homan

VIRTUAL TOUR: TENDER-NOB NEON
5:00-6:15 pm PST Friday, September 25, 2020
From the gritty to the sublime, zig zag through the historic corridors of this neighborhood situated between the Tenderloin and Nob Hill districts in San Francisco. This historic district is populated with vintage signs that light up the night and create a sense of time travel. This tour is hosted by San Francisco Neon authors and photographers Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan. Tour features historic photos, film clips, and ephemera with architectural and graphic design insights to San Francisco’s unique legacy of surviving neon signs. Single ticket or All Event Pass

Photo: Al Barna

OPENING NIGHT
6:45–8:00 pm PST Friday, September 25, 2020
An all-star line up of speakers at the forefront of vintage neon preservation share stories of rescue and restoration. Vintage neon signs have evolved from advertising to art, and now they serve as landmarks of the day-to-day human experience within communities. The artisans and advocates who take on neon preservation projects have adventures and advice to share.

DAY 2 Saturday Sessions 9/26/20

Photo: Dydia DeLyser

NEON CURIOSITY LOUNGE PART 1
10:15 am–11:15 pm PST Saturday, September 26, 2020
Part art exhibit, part makers fair, part science project. The Neon Curiosity Lounge is a collection of expert sign-makers, tube-bending artists, and neon historians with much to show and tell. Marvel at the strange and wonderful forms of neon light, technique, and insights into neon illumination in all of its forms. Satisfy your neon curiosity! Particpants in the Neon Curiosity Lounge Part 1 and Part 2 include: Amy Palms, Anika Rivers, Bill Concannon, Chris Raley, Paul Greenstein and Dydia DeLyser, Karen Heisler, Michael Mintz, Shawna Peterson, Roxy Rose and Bruce Suba. Single ticket or All Event Pass

Photos: MONA and Nevada Neon Project

BEHIND THE SCENES: Museum of Neon Art (MONA) and Nevada Neon Project
5:00–6:15 pm PST Saturday, September 26, 2020
Vintage neon signs have evolved from advertising to art, rescued, collected, and displayed proudly in museums. The advocates and educators who champion vintage neon projects share experiences and expertise with a behind-the-scenes perspective. Participants include: MONA’s Eric Lynxwiler and Ani Mnatsakanyan of the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale, CA and Will Durham, Nevada Neon Project in Reno NV. Single ticket or All Event Pass

Photo: Al Barna

VIRTUAL TOUR: TENDERLOIN NEON + MATCHBOOKS SF
6:45–8:00 pm PST Saturday, September 27, 2020
Follow a historic trail via neon and matchbooks on an online journey with hosts Katie Conry from the Tenderloin Museum with Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan of SF Neon. You’ll see stunning visuals of vintage match books and neon signs from the nightclubs, hotels, and late-night greasy spoons that formed the Tenderloin’s mid-century nightscape. Just like matchbooks, historic neon signs are a fascinating synecdoche of the small businesses they represent, and a window to the past explored through material culture. Tour includes iconic businesses remembered vividly through vintage ephemera, video clips, and historic photographs. In partnership with SF History Days. Single ticket or All Event Pass

DAY 3 Sunday Sessions 9/27/20

Photo: Al Barna

LETTERS FROM THE NIGHT SKY
10:15 am– 11:45 am PST Sunday, September 27, 2020
This session features Letreiro Galeria Projecta from Lisbon, Portugal followed by a Typographers Forum with Stephen Coles from the Letterform Archive, Kunal Patal from Letters of San Francisco, and Kate Widdows of Electric Letterland. When letterforms are illuminated in a vintage neon sign, the visual allure is irresistible. This forum of typographers will examine some of the most fascinating neon sign survivors and the art of hand-drawn letterforms. The evolution from advertising to art is on full display in these handcrafted beacons of light and imagination. Historic photos and cinematic clips are included to trace the trajectory of neon’s reputation from glamorous to hideous, from disposable to precious. A typographical feast for the eye, these signs burn bright and beautiful in an alchemical synthesis of glass, gas, and electricity. Single ticket or All Event Pass

Photo: Al Barna

NEON SIGNS AND STOREFRONTS
5:30 pm–6:15 pm PST Sunday, September 27, 2020

Photo: Al Barna

VIRTUAL TOUR: BRILLIANT STOREFRONTS
6:45–8:00 pm PST Sunday, September 27, 2020
Join us for an online tour of San Francisco’s historic and brilliant storefronts with Martin Treu, author of Streets, Signs and Storefronts, along with Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan of SF Neon. In partnership with SF History Days. Single ticket or All Event Pass

SCHEDULE 2020

Second Weekend, October 3-4

DAY 4 Saturday Sessions 10/3/20

Photo: Dydia DeLyser

NEON CURIOSITY LOUNGE PART 2
10:15 am–12:00 pm PST Saturday, October 3, 2020
Part art exhibit, part makers fair, part science project. The Neon Curiosity Lounge is a collection of expert sign-makers, tube-bending artists, and neon historians with much to show and tell. Marvel at the strange and wonderful forms of neon light, technique, and insights into neon illumination in all of its forms. Satisfy your neon curiosity! Single ticket or All Event Pass

Photo: Al Barna

VIRTUAL TOUR: NEON + GHOST SIGNS SF
5:00–6:15 pm PST Saturday October 3, 2020
The history and soul of the neighborhood shines through in this online tour of vintage signage found on the eastern side of the Tenderloin. This virtual tour features vintage neon signs and ghost signs (those faded historic hand painted signs on the sides of buildings or on store fronts that advertise a product or business that is long gone). You will see a rich collection of photographs, video clips, maps, and historic research compiled by hosts Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, SF Neon and Kasey Smith, SF Ghost Sign Mapping Project creator and artist. Tour includes histories of unique small businesses that once thrived in the Tenderloin plus the legacy businesses that have survived against considerable odds. Single ticket or All Event Pass

SIGNS UNITED: Stories from the Road
6:45—8:00 pm PST Saturday October 3, 2020

DAY 5 Sunday Sessions 10/4/20

Photo: Hans J. Orth, 1960 Warsaw

NEON IN MID-CENTURY HAVANA, WARSAW, & SAN FRANCISCO
10:15 am–12:00pm PST Sunday October 4, 2020
An exploration of neon sign design, lettering, and various forms and functions in Warsaw, Havana, and San Francisco. In the mid-century neon signs brought light, color, and aesthetics to dense metropolitan spaces—from the 1930s to the 1950s, Havana once had 140 neon-lit cinemas on Calle 23, the Cuban equivalent of Broadway. The Tenderloin, too, has an abundance of nearly 100 vintage neon signs, the highest concentration of neighborhood neon in San Francisco. This discussion will be followed by an 10:45 am screening of “NEON”, an award-winning documentary on the neonization of Warsaw and Poland in the Cold War era. Director Eric Bednarski will be on hand for a Q&A “line from Warsaw”. If you missed this fascinating film last year, here is another chance to view! Single ticket or All Event Pass

Photo: Al Barna

VIRTUAL TOUR: CHINATOWN NEON
5:00 to 6:15 pm PST Sunday October 4, 2020
SF Chinatown shines in this online tour about neon signs and how they illuminate the history of Grant Avenue. There is a wealth of vintage neon signs and history in the streets and alleys of Chinatown. This tour features some of the oldest signs in the city. Tour includes the history of neon signs and stories of Chinatown businesses whose signs have became neighborhood landmarks. You will see a rich collection of photographs, video clips, maps, and historic research compiled by hosts Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, SF Neon; and a presentation of the forming of Chinatown by the Chinese Historical Society of America. Single ticket or All Event Pass

Photo: Randall Ann Homan

CLOSING NIGHT CELEBRATION
6:15—7:00 pm PST Sunday October 4, 2020
Bring your favorite beverage, neon questions, and reflections to this festival closing celebration. Presenters and attendees are encouraged to participate and reflect on the festival and the future of neon . Single ticket or All Event Pass

2020 PARTICIPANTS

SYMPOSIUM PANELISTS/PRESENTERS
Adolfo Nodal, Habana Light Neon Signs and the Rex Center, Havana, Cuba
Ani Mnatsakanyan, Museum of Neon Art, Glendale
Corky Scholl, Save the Signs, Denver
Dean Blezak and Michael Blezak, Neon the Next Generation
Debra Jane Seltzer, RoadsideArchitecture.com, Ventura
Dydia DeLyser & Paul Greenstein, Los Angeles
Eric Bednarski, “NEON” Warsaw, Poland
Eric Lynxwiler, Museum of Neon Art, Glendale
Kasey Smith, SF Ghost Signs Mapping Project, San Francisco
Kate Widdows, PDX Neon, Portland
Kunal Patel, Letters of San Francisco CA
Letreiro Galeria Projecta, Rita Múrias and Paulo Barata Corrêa, Lisbon, Portugal
Martin Treu, Signs, Streets, and Storefronts
Michael Lipman, Why Neon Glows, TED Ed, San Francisco
Museum of Neon Art (MONA), Glendale CA
Neon Museum of Philadelphia, Philadelphia
Preservation Action Council, San Jose
Signs United: Will Hansen, Steve Spiegel, Mike Zack, Marla Zack,Los Angeles
Stephen Coles, Letterform Archive, San Francisco
Stephanie Cisneros, SF City Planning Department
Tod Swormstedt, American Sign Museum, Cincinnati
Tom Rinaldi, New York Neon, New York
Will Durham Nevada Neon Project, Reno
Williams Neon, Boston

NEON CURIOSITY LOUNGE PANELISTS
Amy Palms, Rebel Neon, San Francisco
Anika Rivers, Town Neon, Oakland
Bill Concannon, Aargon Neon, Crockett
Bruce Suba, Santa Cruz
Chris Raley, Route 9 Signs
Greg King, Oakland
Karen Heisler, Neon Works, Oakland
Kody Shafer, Neon Spectacular, Osaka, Japan
Michael Flechtner, Los Angeles
Paul Greenstein & Dydia DeLyser, Los Angeles
Roxy Rose Score, Los Angeles
Shawna Peterson, Peterson Neon

HOSTS/CO-PRODUCERS
Neon Speaks Festival & Symposium co-founders/producers:
Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, SF Neon.

ADVISORS
Thanks to our wise advisors: Ariana Bindman, Charles Chapman, Katie Conry, Heather David, Dydia DeLyser, Allen Sawyer, Jim Van Buskirk, and Kate Widdows

Photo: Al Barna

Peterson Neon, 2019. Photo: Al Barna</span

2020 GRANTS

San Francisco Neon produces neon walking tours, events, talks, exhibitions, and the Neon Speaks Festival and Symposium, fiscally sponsored by the Tenderloin Museum of San Francisco. The San Francisco Heritage generously provided a grant from the Alice Ross Carey Preservation Fund. A matching grant was generously provided by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

2020 SPONSORS

Here at Neon Speaks, we are grateful to our generous sponsors and supporters who enable us to create this opportunity to celebrate all things neon. Sponsors provide support by funding all the things that go into developing an online symposium: speaker outreach, marketing, website, ticketing, photography and video editing, historic research, tour development, and supporting vintage neon preservation projects. Supporters help spread the word by promoting Neon Speaks on social media and other channels.

Interested in becoming a sponsor or supporter? Let’s talk!

Novial Gold Level
Novial Gold is our highest level of sponsorship!
Thanks to Museum of Neon Art and SF Neon for donating time and expertise.

Ruby Red Level
In-kind donation sponsorship by Jim Rizzo of Neon Works Oakland.

Cobalt Blue Level
Sponsorship by Tod Swormstedt and the American Sign Museum.

Emerald Green Level
Sponsorship by Preservation Action Council of San Jose and the Art Deco Society of California.

SUPPORTERS