If you and your pal have ever booked a motel in a strange town, you know the long drive down Main Street after a big day on the road. While you keep your eyes on the asphalt your co-pilot is searching through the windshield for just one thing: that bright-in-the-night glow of neon.
Neon is the American beacon, the classic mid-century harbinger of food and rest and shopping. But watching for it, down that long highway, can make a lover of after-sundown shiny signs rather antsy.
Be antsy no more, neon people, in regards to the Museum of Neon Art. The Glendale institution, which has been years in coming -- or re-opening, rather, after a move from downtown -- is about to make its official hello on Saturday, Feb. 6.
Looks like you finally pulled into town and found your motel after a long day, in short, neonists of SoCal.
Artists Lili Lakich and Richard Jenkins started the Museum of Neon Art, or MONA, if you prefer, in 1981. It grew and grew, both with original neon artworks and vintage signs that once ruled the highways. At its heart MONA is about "(e)lectric and light-based arts illuminating the past, present, and future through permanent and rotating exhibitions."
Look for incandescent icons like The Brown Derby sign, and Hofbrau, and Manny Moe & Jack in the collection. But it isn't all about the sign-admiring and gentle reminiscing at MONA; educational programs and other special events are hallmarks of the museum, too.
And, you're right, there was an early taste of the opening a couple of months back, when the gift shop opened just after Thanksgiving. Let's make an analogy here, shall we? The MONA gift shop opening was like that early sign you see ahead of town, that your neon-lit motel is only a few more miles down the road.
Your drive reaches its desired destination on Feb. 6.
Want to attend the grand opening? Tickets are fifty bucks.
Want to simply call upon MONA when it is humming and doing business, post-Feb. 6? It's keeping Friday and Saturday hours for the time being.
Want to find neon in its natural habitat? It buzzes on, along America's byways, here and there, but not nearly "here and there" enough for its fans. Having an institution celebrate it, as MONA has done for 35 years, only serves to strengthen the neon that's still out there, promoting businesses and, simultaneously, a slice of our dynamic shared history.