2018: A YEAR IN REVIEW
In November 2017, we announced the launch of Western Neon School of Art, a Seattle-based non-profit institution that supports the exploration of light, space, and interactive technologies. We now find ourselves at the end of 2018, taking some time to reflect on the incredible year we’ve had.
Starting a school dedicated to the exploration of neon was a longtime goal of Western Neon President André Lucero. Western Neon, after all, has its founding in education, and he felt it right to return to these roots. Western Neon founder Michael Blazek is the son of Dean Blazek, a key figure in the history of neon. He is a prolific bender and educator who established the Northern Wisconsin Neon Workshop and wrote two influential books about the medium. Michael took this as inspiration to establish Western Neon as a neon gallery in 1985. Soon after, his brother Jay joined in and the two turned the company into one of the United States’ premier sign manufacturers. Jay took over as president and stayed on until André took his place in 2010. In the summer of 2017, André teamed with master-level bender Kelsey Fernkopf and contemporary artist Dylan Neuwirth to found Western Neon School of Art.
In just one short year, our tentative venture has blossomed into a wildly popular and successful organization. We’ve taught five Introduction classes with solid plans for many more, including our first Intermediate class in January 2019 and an Advanced class further on down the line. We have hosted a visiting artist workshop with fantastic bender Kacie Lees as well as a panel discussion with artist Sharon Louden. We held a short residency for prolific artists Derek Bruno and Celeste Byers as a component of the 2018 SODO Track event. We’ve even attracted attention globally, partnering with Western Neon to create a component for renowned architecture firm Design Earth’s contribution to the U.S. Pavilion’s Dimensions of Citizenship exhibition. Most recently, we received a significant grant from the Raynier Institute & Foundation to continue and expand the work we do.
We’ve managed to garner the interest of many people in just a year, and we feel very lucky for all of the projects we’ve been able to take part in and events we’ve been able to host. But mainly, we are so happy to be able to provide people with a unique education in an incredible, rewarding medium. Education is the core of what we do, and we have so many plans for the future. Keep an eye on our Programs page and our News page, as well as our newsletter, for upcoming information on our programming. Here’s to a spectacular new year – we’ll see you in January for Winter Quarter!
See some of our favorite shots from the last year below.