Historic Neon Network

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,

Eric Lynxwiler, Museum of Neon Art
John Law, Moderator
Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, SF Neon


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Jim Rizzo, Neon Works

Amy Palm, Neon Works

Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, SF Neon


Stay tuned for updates.

Festival Schedule


Friday, April 20, 2018

San Francisco, CA

5:30 PM  Happy Hour Registration

6:00 PM  Opening Reception & Letterland

8:00 PM  SF Neon Walking Tour  (SOLD OUT)


Saturday, April 21, 2018

San Francisco, CA

1:00 PM  Symposium

3:00 PM  Spotlight Forum

5:00 PM  "Neon" Documentary Screening


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Oakland, CA

2:00 PM  Neon Works Shop Tour (SOLD OUT)

3:30 PM  Neon Works Shop Tour


3-Day Festival Pass available, or you can
get tickets to individual events below.


Help us make history and join what might be the first-ever festival and symposium about historic neon! Presented by
San Francisco Neon and the Historic Neon Network.



Location: Herman Miller Showroom

23 Geary Street, Suite 900, San Francisco

Join us for a happy hour registration for festival pass holders, supporters and presenters. Get your 3-Day Festival Pass
for festival events and a future SF Neon tour.


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.

1950s postcard Market Street at Night, San Francisco. Photo by Ed Christensen

Opening reception & Letterland

6:00 PM  Friday, April 20 Tickets/$25

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

Gaze into the neon glow and enjoy happy hour beverages and light fare amid classic mid-century furniture. Typography guru Shelley Gruendler and letter form artist Kate Widdows will enlighten us with insights on the power of typography via streamlined neon tubes. Book signing by Heather David for her new book of mid-century ephemera, Motel California, classic motel neon! We chose this venue because it is a rare opportunity to enjoy an eye-level view of the Palace Hotel neon roof sign and sweeping views of Market Street.

SF neon walking tour

8:00 PM  Friday, April 20 SOLD OUT Book a walking tour on another weekend!

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. SF Neon tours feature local history, architectural, and graphic design insights into San Francisco's surviving neon signs. Photography and a lively Q&A are encouraged. Space is limited.

Symposium & spotlight Forum

Saturday, April 21
1:00 PM  Neon Symposium   Tickets $12

3:00 PM Neon Spotlight Forum  (Free)

Location: Tenderloin Museum, 398 Eddy Street, San Francisco

Help us make history and join what might be the first-ever symposium about neon!. Eric Lynxwiler demystifies the criteria on what makes a neon sign museum-worthy for the Museum of Neon Art. Hit the virtual road with Debra Jane Seltzer, a legendary historian who travels coast to coast to document America's neon beauties and the survivors of roadside architecture in a disappearing landscape. Ever wonder what it takes to restore a vintage neon sign? Tod Swormstedt of the American Sign Museum shows us how it's done, step-by-step. Followed by a panel discussion on neon preservation best practices, moderated by John Law.  Stick around for a spotlight forum on the future of neon! Hosted by Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan.



5:00 PM  Saturday, April 21   Tickets via Roxie $12/$8

Location: Roxie Theatre, 3117 16th Street San Francisco, CA

Check out the trailer and you'll want to see every minute of this engaging documentary on the big screen. Written and directed by award-winning Australian filmmaker Lawrence Johnston, NEON celebrates the beauty, color and vibrant history of these beloved illuminated signs that are disappearing. The craft and construction of this 100-year-old medium is an amazing and enduring force of color and beauty in the visual landscapes of our lives. Neon lovers, designers, and architects: don't miss this one. Q&A to follow.


Still from "NEON" documentary film

Neon works shop tour & DEMO

2:00 PM  Sunday, April 22- SOLD OUT

3:30 PM Sunday, April 22 Tickets $25

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, the 2pm tour sold out in a flash. We have added a 3:30 pm tour, don't miss out!



The Neon Speaks Festival and Symposium is presented by San Francisco Neon/Historic Neon Network and sponsored by the Tenderloin Museum of San Francisco. The San Francisco Heritage generously provided a grant from the Alice Ross Carey Preservation Fund.

The symposium and Neon Works shop tour are  sponsored by the Art Deco Society of California in memory of Michael Crowe. The opening reception and Letterland event are sponsored by Adobe TypeKit.


Special festival room rates available for a limited time at  the Carlton Hotel, an historic boutique hotel with a towering neon blade sign. It is in the Tender-Nob neighborhood close to many vintage neon signs. Book online or call 415.292.1181 and
ask for the Neon2018 rate.

San Francisco Neon:
Survivors and Lost Icons

Cloth hardcover third printing with 220+color photographs.  Includes extended neon notes section and updated neighborhood index with sign condition for all surviving signs. The fabulous Verdi Club is on the cover, one of the best neon signs in San Francisco.


$33 + tax


Quick shipping in Continental  US, limit 2 per order. Contact us for larger or international orders.


We are grateful to the individuals and organizations who encouraged us to create a venue for champions to share challenges and success in preserving historic neon signs; and who have shown their support by promoting Neon Speaks events on social media and other channels. Interested in becoming a sponsor or supporter? Let's talk!



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