Back to All Events

Neon Symposium: History, Process & Future

The neon community is small and San Francisco is very lucky to have a concentration of veterans in the trade.

Please join us for a symposium on the history, process and the future of neon - moderated by San Francisco Neon/ Historic Neon Network.

*This event is free & open to the public. The cafe will be open for food & drink*

San Francisco Neon - 

San Francisco Neon: Talks, tours, books, and consultations on restoration projects of vintage neon in historic neighborhoods. Our sister organization, Historic Neon Network, is a not-for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Tenderloin Museum. We advocate and educate about the artistic legacy of historic neon signs as a legacy archive of art, craft, culture, and the small business fabric of the city. Founders Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan are the authors/photographers of the book San Francisco Neon: Survivors and Lost Icons. Contact us about neon restoration projects, talks, tours, and exhibits. 


Meryl Pataky - Originally from South Florida, Pataky moved to San Francisco in 2002 to attend the Academy of Art University. She fell in love with the tactile nature of sculpture and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture. An artist of many disciplines and mediums, Meryl focuses on the relationship between her own hands and material. Informing her material selection is a meditation on the elements of the periodic table from noble gases to metals and organics. She is aware of the history of her elements from their origins in the universe to their applications in culture and myth. The artist derives deeper meanings from these histories to add layers to her concepts. Both a personal and process driven narrative drive the work further forward. Meryl is the curator of the She Bends exhibition.  "I wanted to make it about females in a male-dominated industry making work themselves,” Meryl states, “I don’t want to see people who appropriate the medium because it’s trendy. I want women who bend, who actually work with this medium with their own two hands aside from just designing it. There’s so much more to neon that just design."

Shawna Peterson - Shawna Peterson has been bending neon tubing since 1987. She began her neon career with fabrication, pattern-making, and design work. This eventually led to an apprenticeship with the neon tube-bender, R.J. Wells. While working for a nationwide sign company, she worked extensively in the commercial neon field, producing signs for companies like The Gap, Safeway, Starbucks, Payless Shoe Source, Miller Brewing, and Hollywood Video. Shawna has also done neon work for numerous other Bay Area projects, like the Yahoo! sign, the San Francisco Symphony's Black and White Ball, Citizen Cake, Luna Park, The Last Supper Club, Andalu, Frisson, and Bongsu to name a few. Currently, Shawna still bends commercial neon projects, but she also creates neon art both independently and for other artists. She designs and produces her own neon sculpture and furniture. She is interested in using old signage in her artwork, transforming found metal cabinets and plastic faces into new, original pieces. Shawna bends new neon to work with her sculptures that incorporate the old sign fragments. In addition, she enjoys working with artists to create the neon they envision for their own art. Artists that she has worked with include Sarkis at the San Francisco Art Institute, Bill Kane, Mike Krouse, Jan Zivic, SFMOMA, and others.

Amy Palms - Because Amy Palms was born and raised in Brooklyn New York, that is something people should know. Most every advantage Amy has acquired in life can be attributed to her white privilege (as well as a good work ethic instilled by her midwestern parents). She received her BFA from Alfred University in mixed media sculpture, and has been making neon just about every day since 1995. “There’s a Yiddish term for thinking of a comeback too late; it’s called trepverter, which means ‘words that arrived too late’ a phenomenon this Brooklyn girl has certainly struggled with. As an artist who uses mixed media and neon in my work, I am most interested in how humans use language to communicate, which works really well with this medium. Neon is great because I have plenty of time to think about what I’m going to say, I get the last word, and all the attention for it.”

Roxy Rose - As a third-generation neon fabricator, Roxy Rose’s pieces are nothing short of mind-blowing. Her near 40 years of experience in the fires are evident in her intricate sculptures that, not only, display her mastery of the medium, but also, share personal messages and reflections on the state of the world we live in. "I started neon glass blowing in 1978 and took over the business in 2000. After 30 years of neon glassblowing I too retired and let my daughter take the business over. She still runs that business to this day. Not only has our company maintained its reputation of the highest standards of neon workmanship, it has also been the largest and longest family-run neon shop on the west coast." Roxy is now free to practice her trade without the pressure of big business focusing on design and the top quality workmanship her grandfather taught her.

Roger Daniells - A 45 year veteran of the arts, Roger got his start at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA studying commercial and fine arts. He developed a deep love of glass art while teaching stained glass at the local city Recreation Department for two years. Working in Healdsburg, CA, he came across a neon bending apprenticeship and has worked in this medium both commercially and as a fine art form for the past 35 years.





Earlier Event: May 18
Neon Happy Hour
Later Event: June 1