85 Years of Neon Signs: Walking Tours with Dumpster Diver Len Davidson

Len Davidson Walking ToursNeon signs have been a dramatic part of Philadelphia and America’s landscape since the 1920′s. These tours will highlight signs built from 1936 to the present, examining signs of various styles and functions. The tour guide, Len Davidson, is one of North America’s leading experts on restoration and preservation of classic neon signs, and has written the sign industry’s bible on historic neon, Vintage Neon (Schiffer Press, 1999). Len’s tour will introduce you to neon history and technology while examining some of the most spectacular and historic signs on view in the city.

Highlights include a mint condition 1936 neon on porcelain-enamel Pittsburgh Paints sign at the Center, animated signs, neon inside and outside the Reading Terminal Market, signs of Chinatown, and the revolving Hard Rock Cafe sign.

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Glowing in the Dark, Film & Talk with Dumpster Diver Len Davidson

Len Davidson Glowing In The DarArguably the best film on neon ever produced, and little seen in the US, Glowing in the Dark [watch the trailer on YouTube] captures the energy and vitality of neon.

Neon was first patented in 1923 by Georges Claude, a Parisian who sold over 9 million dollars in territorial licenses in the following six years. The glow of neon lights had swept across North America by the 1950′s.

Set against a backdrop of spectacular footage of Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, Glowing in the Dark is an illuminating exploration into the vibrant history and contemporary use of neon.

The movement, power, and raw exuberance of neon is revealed through a fascinating demonstration of how neon is made, a montage of notable neon installations, and commentary from a colorful array of enthusiasts including:

  • John Atkin, a heritage advocate, graphic designer, and leading expert on the history of neon in Vancouver. In 1986, Atkin’s enthusiasm for neon led him to graph the entire city of Vancouver, pinpointing the location of each neon sign.
  • Alan Hess, an architect, critic, and author of Viva Las Vegas, who leads viewers on a tour of a graveyard for neon signs.
  • Lili Lakich, a neon sculptor, instructor, and founder of the Neon Museum of Art in Las Angeles. She has created some stunning neon pieces and restored some of the great signs of L.A.’s yesteryear.
  • Bill Warren, an entrepreneur who was responsible for erecting some of Vancouver’s biggest, brightest and most controversial signs. His most contentious neon creation was a 40-foot-high woman clothed in a bikini.
  • Members of the band 54-40 talk about how they saved and restored Vancouver’s Smiling Buddha Cabaret sign.

The 45 minute film will start at 7 pm followed by a discussion led by neon historian, author, and preservationist, Len Davidson.

 

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Bargain Book Warehouse in Bala Cynwyd Art Gallery Opening

Bookstore Warehouse Gallery Postcard

Art Inspirations features independent, National and International Artists. This unique Gallery brings different styles and levels of art together under one roof, located in the Bargain Book Warehouse on City line Ave in Bala Cynwyd. Please join us for a great event filled with Books, Art, and Entertainment!!! You can see videos of the Artist on the Bargain Book Warehouse Facebook Page.

Bargain Book Warehouse Statement: “This is the first time that Bargain Book Warehouse has done an Art show of this nature. The District Manager Stina Forsell and Angela Walls are very excited about the talented array of artists that the Art Curator, Eva Preston, is showcasing in the store.”

Bargain Book Warehouse – Bala Cynwyd
59 E City Line Ave
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

Opening Reception: June 27, 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Live performances by Aziza Zenzile Kinteh , Taji Nahl and some Special Surprises!

Gallery Hours of Operation
Mon – Sat: 10 am – 9 pm
Sun: 10 am – 6 pm

 

Bookstore Warehouse Gallery Postcard 2

Featured Artists: Henry Bermudez, Neil Benson, Brian Bazemore, Sara Benowitz, Don Brewer, Alden Willard Cole, Ebony Malaika Collier, Bariq Cobbs, CJ Downing, James E. Dupree, Lenny Davidson, Leila EL Gharrafi, Cass Green, Donnetta Irvis, George Felice, Fred Floyd, Joanna Fulginiti, yuri Hollosy, AsakeDenise Jones, Ann Keech, Diane Keller, Fred Knopp, Amir M. Lyles, Pat Lyons, Bonnie MacAllister, Michelle Marcuse, Leslie Meeks, Toni Nash, Taji Nahl, LaReine Nixon, Janis Pinkston, Kathryn Pannepacker, Janis Pinkston, Eva Preston, Susan Richards, Joel Spivak, Jeff Stroud, Jeffrey Stovall, Gary Smalls, Simone Spicer, Adam Joseph Toussaint, Cathy DeMarco, Clifford Ward, Richard J. Watson, Angela Walls, Curtis Williams, Ron Wondering Feather, Russell Williams, Robert Wilson And Many MORE!!!!!!!!!

 

June Workshop with Dumpster Diver Neil Benson

Neal Benson WorkshopTrash Is Simply A Failure Of Imagination!

Participants will be provided with tools and salvaged materials, primarily obsolete laptop computers and will be instructed as to how to use the tools to take apart the laptops in order to repurpose them. Each participant will be given an old wooden cigar box that will be decorated with the computer parts. After  the boxes are “trash-blinged” they can hold materials from recycling for uses the new artist sees fit in the future. A primary goal in these events is to give people a lifetime of permission to play with trash and recycling. Ideas for creative reuse of the boxes will be suggested during the workshop.

Tools and materials provided by instructor: screwdrivers, hot glue guns, other miscellaneous tools, cigar boxes, computer parts
Maximum number of participants: 12 children or 20 adults, or combination
Open to: Ages 6 – 80; families preferred so adults can assist children

 

Date & Time: Saturday, June 14, 12:30 – 2:30 pm
Location: Globe Dye Works, 4500 Worth St., Frankford, Philly
Tookany/Tacony – Frankford Watershed Partnership Office, 3rd floor
Sponsored by: Destination Frankford

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An Introduction to Neon History, Use & Technology with Dumpster Diver Len Davidson

Len Davidson Intro To Neon ClassIn this three-hour hands-on class, led by Len Davidson, author of Vintage Neon (Schiffer Press, 1999), students will gain an overview of how neon has been developed and used to create signs, art, and architectural detailing. You will be shown how neon colors are made, types of signs, electrical transformers, and neon-related hardware. Images will be projected illustrating neon applications and iconic neon signs. This class is geared towards anyone who wants to learn about or use neon, and will go into more depth than the neon walking tours or talks held at the Center. Admission for this class will be limited to 20 participants.

Davidson collects and restores classic neon signs, and about 10 of his 100 piece collection are on display in the Center for Architecture gallery and AIA Bookstore. Since 1979 he has also operated a neon design business in Philadelphia. Len’s interest in neon was planted by growing up in Philadelphia in the 50s, while gazing in childhood wonder at such iconic signs as the Levis Hot Dog, Sun Ray Drugs’ animated mortar and pestle, and the Boot and Saddle. His interest bloomed in the mid 70s when he started a bar/restaurant with a neon ceiling while teaching sociology at University of Florida in Gainesville.

Get Tickets:
Tuesday, June 3 2014 / 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM

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Last Chance to See Divers’ “Reclaim” Show at Destination Frankford, SAT, MAY 17, 2014

Last Chance to See Divers' "Reclaim" Show at Destination FrankfordThanks to Dave Christopher for taking this photo of me (Jim Ulrich) with my piece “Snakeoil” at the opening of the Dumpster Divers “Reclaim” exhibit on display at Destination Frankford through this Saturday, MAY 17.

Thanks also to exhibit organizer Leslie Kaufman and her hanging crew for the lighting that produced the rather dramatic pattern of shadows, something I hadn’t planned for, but may in future.

This pop-up gallery will be open Saturday between 12:00 noon and 5:00 PM. It’s located at the corner of Frankford Ave. and Poplar St., a short distance from the Margaret-Orthodox station on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Line, a.k.a. the “El” (for elevated train).

Dumpster Diver Joanne Hoffman and myself have gallery sitting duty this Saturday and will greatly welcome any visitors.

May Workshop with Dumpster Diver Joel Spivak

Joel Spivak WorkshopMaking Something Out of Nothing

Experience the fun of turning ordinary trash into treasure. In this workshop participants will learn new ways of seeing and creating art using discarded materials from everyday use. Things normally thrown away or ignored take on new meanings as they become elements of artistic compositions. You don’t have to have any art background to create this fun and rewarding project. Parents are encouraged to come with their children and work together. There will be a refreshments break midway through the workshop.

Participants should bring: scissors, “junk drawer stuff”, ie: string, bottle caps, buttons, clean items from your trash. All items should be easy to glue onto cardboard.
Tools and materials provided by instructor: 2′ square sheets of cardboard and glue
Maximum number of participants: 10
Open to: Children and parents, one parent per child

Date & Time: Saturday, May 24, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Location: Globe Dye Works, 4500 Worth St., Frankford, Philly
Tookany/Tacony – Frankford Watershed Partnership Office, 3rd floor
Sponsored by: Destination Frankford

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May Workshop with Dumpster Diver Dan Enright

Dan Enright WorkshopIntroduction to Collage

Learn to create your own collages from photos, magazine images, different kinds of paper and all sorts of printed materials. Adults will benefit by learning a brief history of collage and copyright considerations of digital compositing. Everyone will learn how to cut, tear, and arrange images to make strong compositions using different kinds of glues and adhesives. Come with photos and magazines and leave with your own artwork!

Participants should bring:  scissors, papers, magazines, photos, other printed materials
Tools and materials provided by instructor: glue, some exacto knives & cutting boards (for adults), magazines, found paper, printouts
Maximum number of participants: 12
Open to: All ages

Date & Time: Saturday, May 17, 10:00 am – noon
Location: Globe Dye Works, 4500 Worth St., Frankford, Philly
Tookany/Tacony – Frankford Watershed Partnership Office, 3rd floor
Sponsored by: Destination Frankford

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Dumpster Divers RECLAIM Show at Destination Frankford Pop-Up Gallery

 Destination Frankford Pop-Up Gallery

After years of neglect, the 4600 block of Paul Street in Frankford is beginning a new life. Destination Frankford is transforming a formerly vacant storefront into an energetic art venue. The temporary pop-up art gallery will accelerate the process of neighborhood revitalization in Frankford.

OPENING RECEPTION for RECLAIM & BLOCK PARTY
Saturday, April 19 | 2:00 – 5:00pm
@ the corner of Frankford Avenue and Paul Street
MFL to Margaret-Orthodox

Three separate exhibitions will each focus on one part of the theme:
RECLAIM | REDISCOVER | REANIMATE

RECLAIM will feature members of Philadelphia’s
Dumpster Divers. Saturdays from April 19 to May 17, 2014, the Dumpster Divers will RECLAIM discarded materials and transform them into new art forms. Seventeen artists who see the possibilities in trash and other under-utilized resources will bring a new awareness to the concept of “upcycling “to Frankford.

Participating Dumpster Divers include:
Sara Benowitz, Ellen Benson, Neil Benson, Carol Cole, Randy Dalton, Dan Enright, Joanne Hoffman, Linda Lou Horn, Ann Keech, Susan Moloney, Eva Preston, Susan Richards, Ellen Sall, Joel Spivak, Jim Ulrich, Sally Willowbee, Burnell Yow!

___________________________________________________

Destination Frankford is an arts-based initiative using MARKETING and CREATIVE PLACEMAKING to enhance and expand the resources of the Frankford’s growing ARTS, ARTISANAL INDUSTRY, and CREATIVE BUSINESS economy.

Destination Frankford is a project of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Local partners include the Frankford Community Development Corporation, Globe Development Group, and Philadelphia Sculptors.

 

Destination Frankford Supported By Art Place Destination Frankford is supported by a grant from ArtPlace America, a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks and federal agencies accelerating creative placemaking across the US.

 

Archives Alchemy: The Art of the Dumpster Divers Update

Part One of the exhibit ends April 24
Part Two of the Exhibit is Extended to July 3, 2014

Archives Alchemy Part 2Location: National Archives at Philadelphia, 900 Market St, Philadelphia, PA
Entrance: 917 Chestnut, between 9th and 10th Streets

Opening Reception for Part 2: May 2, 5:00 – 7:30 pm

Gallery Hours of Operation:
M-F:  8:30 am – 4:45 pm.
Second Saturday of each month: 8 am – 4 pm

A Photo ID is required to enter Federal Buildings.

 

Home Movies by Susan Richards

Home Movies by Susan Richards

The National Archives had miles of microfilm and piles of debris from moving records and renovations, doomed for the dumpster. “Call the Dumpster Divers!”  Who? The Dumpster Divers of Philadelphia are a group of over 40 found object artists, their artwork as diverse as the group and materials used. They were officially recognized with a 2012 City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Tribute for “helping to raise the consciousness of art lovers and heightened awareness of taking a creative approach to support a more sustainable city, country and world.”

This show is an unusual collaboration between two very different Philadelphia institutions and demonstrates the infinite possibilities available when we think outside the dumpster. Leslie Simon, Director, Research Services, the National Archives at Philadelphia said, “I challenged the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers to create art out of the debris from our moves and renovations. Materials included decommissioned ladders and carts, miles of microfilm and readers, aged leather book bindings, as well as decommissioned electronics and displays, posters, photographs, and lots of red tape.”

Archives Commemorative  by Ann Keech

Archives Commemorative by Ann Keech

As a loosely bound collective of classically trained and self-taught artists the Dumpster Divers’ unique found object artwork has been exhibited at the American Visionary Art Museum, Noyes Museum of Art, Perkins Art Center, Please Touch Museum, the Garbage Museum and many other regional and national exhibitions. They are featured in books such as FOUND OBJECT ART, books 1 and 2.  They established South Street galleries that have entranced more than fifty thousand people, while recycling these abandoned storefronts into viable neighborhood businesses. In the words of their founder, Neil Benson, “Trash is simply a failure of the imagination.”

Thus, in a new kind of alchemy, this partnership between the National Archives at Philadelphia and the Dumpster Divers of Philadelphia preserves, conveys and interprets stories of our pasts hidden in words and objects.

The National Archives at Philadelphia
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the record keeper of the Federal government. About 2% of all records created are preserved permanently and are available to the public, whether exploring family history, proving a veteran’s military service, or researching an historical topic. The National Archives at Philadelphia, one of 15 research facilities across the country, holds records of federal courts and agencies operating in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The records range from hand written 18th century customs manifests to 20th century scientific data.

Contact Gretchen Altabef about the Archives Alchemy Show:
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