A new ephemeral gallery and a new museum electrify the public with neon and light | Chicago News


Inside the neon and light museum. (WTTW News)

It is a three-dimensional work of art that glows in the dark. Neon combines craftsmanship with design and a bit of science. We visit the Neon and light museum to find out if it is really on. MV has the story.


Marc Vitali: There is a work based on a drawing by John Lennon.

There is a famous piece by artist Bruce Nauman titled “The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystical Truths”.

And there are “how did they do that?” works with strobe light effects. And others that seem tailor-made for the Instagram age.

Inside the neon and light museum.  (WTTW News)Inside the neon and light museum. (WTTW News)

Ken saunders, Neon and Light Museum: The celebrity here is neon. We have the best international and local artists working in neon, but the material itself is so alluring, so charming, so calming.

If you’re a certain age, neon is retro. You remember the neon signs in front of every store, bar, pizzeria, but if you are younger the work almost has a utopian, steampunk quality, the feeling that there is a better place, even an opportunity for a transcendent experience. just based on flashing colored lights.

The Neon and Light Museum just opened at 325 W. Huron St. in River North.  (WTTW News)The Neon and Light Museum just opened at 325 W. Huron St. in River North. (WTTW News)

Vitali: Most of the works are contemporary but also temporary – this pop-up showroom can be found in the Gallery District of River North until October.

Saunders: The artists who work with neon bend the glass. The big technical challenge is learning how to bend the glass and get it to do what you want it to do. You might think you’re designing something in a script, but if it’s unreadable, you’re not designing anything, and so there are some basic skills that come into play.

Once the glass tubes are bent, they are filled with gas – neon, argon, xenon – and each of these glasses creates its own color, then the tube is closed, a vacuum created and an electrical charge is sent through the tube and turn on the gas, turn on the gas, and the gas takes on a color.

A work of art on display at the Neon and Light Museum.  (WTTW News)A work of art on display at the Neon and Light Museum. (WTTW News)

We have fun and exciting pieces. Clever stuff that will make you laugh, and we have artists who delve into even deeper philosophical, sociological issues.

Some artists want to be very serious and some artists will use ways that maybe are the wrong direction to impress you, to make you think twice and think.

Vitali: And some of their works are available for purchase.

Saunders: I am an art dealer. I have been a gallery owner for 30 years, so I earn my living by selling works of art.

This effort reflects a change in the way we view art these days. And the interaction with art goes beyond buying things, collecting them and relating them to home and now we are trying to spread the culture in different and maybe even radical ways.

It’s like that.

More on this story

The neon and light museum just opened at 325 W. Huron St. in River North. It is open until October.

Note: This story will be updated with a video.

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