Recently I was asked to provide a description of a piece on display in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas, a city with an emerging art scene driven in large part by the Crystal Bridges Museum.

Others have said, and I agree, that my work explores the intersection of where art and commerce meet. The description of the vintage style sign read:

The sputnik atop “Modern” was considered an icon of progress during the atomic age. Today, it’s a quaint relic, just like the iPhone in your pocket will be. The overly distressed piece is meant to play on our notions of subversive art and is a statement about the fleeting nature of what is considered modern.

My intention with my custom vintage neon signs is fine art that captures the essence of emerging cities from long ago, where main street glowed with opportunity. Of course, in the midst of an economic recovery and political election, what “Main Street” and “Opportunity”  means today is a hot topic of debate.

Even still, it is humbling and energizing that so many fans have also come to love my work and be a champion of what I am creating here in Austin. I take inspiration from this city, but I also look to other artists, towns and history when I am creating new pieces.

One town that comes to mind is Las Vegas. Is there any bigger and modern city that has more neon light? Author Tom Wolfe had this to say about Las Vegas, which still rings true today:

“Long after Las Vegas’ influence as a gambling heaven has gone, Las Vegas’ forms and symbols will be influencing American life. That fantastic skyline! Las Vegas’ neon sculpture, its fantastic fifteen-story-high display signs, parabolas, boomerangs, rhomboids, trapezoids, and all the rest of it, are already the staple design of the American landscape outside the oldest parts of the oldest cities. They are all over every suburb, every subdivision, every highway . . . they are the new landmarks of America, the new guideposts, the new way Americans get their bearings.”

— Tom Wolfe, “Las Vegas (What?) Las Vegas (Can’t Hear you! Too Noisy) Las Vegas!!!”
Esquire Magazine 1964

For me, it’s about creating fine art through neon art. It’s something that makes you think, wonder and marvel about. Thanks for taking the time to learn more about what inspires me. I hope I’ve inspired you to look at signs in a whole new way.

 

Leave a Comment

  1. Reply

    Hello, Todd, I am thrilled to locate this post and your blog. I live in Bentonville and have just completed a painting of the alley that displays this sign. The painting is in the Norberta Philbrook Gallery in Bentonville, and the owner and I have been trying to track down the origin of the sign. Can you give us a little more information on who commissioned the piece, or the circumstances around its placement? We love it! Thanks for making that little alley a very special place.

    Tim

    • Reply

      Tim, I am Todd’s publicist Nicole. Please email me at Nicole(at)NicoleDelger(dot)com and we’ll connect with the information that you need. So glad you love the work and reached out. Can’t wait to see your piece!

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