Historic Neon Network

SAVE THE DATES: April 20-22, 2018

neon speaks


A celebration of historic neon signs

Festival Schedule


Friday, April 20, 2018

San Francisco, CA

5:30 PM  Opening Reception

6:00 PM  Typography Talk & Letterland Demo

8:00 PM  SF Neon Walking Tour


Saturday, April 21, 2018

San Francisco, CA

2:00 PM  Symposium and Open Forum

8:00 PM  "Neon" Documentary Screening


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Oakland, CA

2:00 PM  NeonWorks Shop Tour


announced PRESENTERS


Friday, April 20, 2018

Shelley Gruendler, Ph.D, Type Camp

Kate Widdows, Designer, Letterer, GIF Animator

Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, SF Neon


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Tod Swormstedt, American Sign Museum

Debra Jane Seltzer, Roadside Architecture

Eric Lynxwiler, Museum of Neon Art


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Jim Rizzo, Neon Works

Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, SF Neon



Presented by San Francisco Neon/Historic Neon Network and the Tenderloin Museum of San Francisco. Join the national movement to restore historic neon signs and donate to become a festival supporter!



Location: Herman Miller Showroom

23 Geary Street, Suite 900, San Francisco

Join us for a happy hour reception for festival supporters and presenters. It's easy to be a supporter. Just purchase

a festival pass for all events.


The NEON SPEAKS Festival & Symposium aims to raise awareness and promote information-sharing about the artistic legacy of historic neon signs and restoration best practices. Want to get festival updates? Sign up for our mailing list.


We will be posting ticket prices and links very soon.

1950s postcard Market Street at Night Photo by Ed Christensen

Typography Talk & letterland demo

6:00 PM  Friday, April 20

Location: Herman Miller Showroom, 23 Geary Street, Suite 900, San Francisco

Typography historian Shelley Gruendler will discuss the evolution of typography and how streamlined letter form designs were influenced by neon tube lighting in the 1920s. Kate Widdows will demo her magic in PhotoShop to create neon sign prototypes with GIF animation.

SF neon walking tour

8:00 PM  Friday, April 20

Tour Start: Palace Garage, 125 Stevenson Alley, San Francisco

Spend an evening under the neon glow with SF Neon authors Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan. This  special tour features local history. It also includes architectural and graphic design insights into San Francisco's unique legacy of surviving neon signs. Photography and a lively Q&A are encouraged. Space is limited.

Symposium & Open Forum

2:00 PM  Saturday, April 21

Location: Tenderloin Museum, 398 Eddy Street, San Francisco

There is a growing national movement to preserve historic neon signs and to shine a spotlight on the  history of small businesses. Experts and advocates Tod Swormstedt, Debra Jane Seltzer, and Eric Lynxwiler will present on preservation and step-by-step restoration  best practices for our neon heritage in historic corridors across the country. At 3:30 PM we invite you to join an open forum on the future of neon! Hosted by Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, SF Neon.

"Neon" DOCUMENTARY & Shorts

TBD  Saturday, April 21

Location: TBD

Watch the trailer and you'll want to see every minute of this engaging documentary on the big screen. Australian film director Lawrence Johnston pulls out all the stops with neon lights, music, and personalities in this non-stop narrative of historic neon signs and people who work to save them from the wrecking ball.

Still from "NEON" documentary film

Neon works shop tour

2:00 PM  Sunday, April 20

Location: Neon Works, 967 Grace Ave, Oakland, CA

Jim Rizzo of Neon Works in Oakland has been rescuing and restoring Bay Area neon signs for decades and he only opens his shop for tours once in a blue moon. This is your chance to see his vintage neon collection and experience how neon, glass, and fire combine to make glowing art. Jim is a master sign-maker and he's letting us into his 17,000-square-foot workshop to explore the art and craft of neon signs. You'll learn about the anatomy of neon signs, how they are made, and how they've changed over time. Local neon historians Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan will give a brief talk about the history of neon signs and the growing movement to save them. Space is limited, plan ahead! This event was so popular last year it sold out in a flash.

The Neon Speaks Festival & Symposium is presented by San Francisco Neon/Historic Neon Network

and the Tenderloin Museum of San Francisco. We are grateful to the individuals and organizations who encouraged us to create this festival and symposium and who have generously given with their time and support. Interested in becoming a Neon Speaks sponsor or supporter? Let's talk!


Festival photo credits: Al Barna, Randall Ann Homan,and Kate Widdows, except where noted.