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September 27, 2018–
January 13, 2019


Dana Turkovic,
Curator of Exhibitions


September 27, 2018
View Gallery

Recognizing its cross-over appeal, Laumeier Sculpture Park’s 2018 Kranzberg series David Hutson, Memory & Desire: A Personal Exploration of Neon Art, Past and Present showcased a large-scale outdoor neon sculpture paired with Hutson’s extensive collection of reclaimed and restored vintage neon signs, alongside, and in conversation with, a diverse grouping of sculptures from his current body of work.

Known locally for his neon sign conservation efforts, this exhibition set the stage for Hutson to communicate his philosophy of this exclusive medium mixing rare earth gasses and fragile glass. “Neon has a kinetic feel, a seductive allure,” and according to Hutson, a South St. Louis native, influenced by his commercial artist father, neon is grounded in place and history. Hutson developed a fascination with neon at an early age: “As a teenager I began scouring the nooks and crannies of my home city for neon relics of a bygone era.” Part of that collection was seen at Laumeier in 1984 in the exhibition Neon 1-2-3 when he was just 17. Since then, his budding fascination became a vocation, with an expanded collection and countless hours devoted to the painstaking fabrication process, he deepened his bond to neon, testing both concepts and technique.

For Hutson, the words “memory” and “desire” resonate deeply within the work and have become the catalyst for the concepts forming the exhibition. “For so many people, vintage neon signs evoke strong feelings of nostalgia. It rekindles fond memories of childhood; an apparently ‘simpler’ or less complex life,” notes Hutson.

The exhibition’s mixture of original work by Hutson and restored vintage signs was staged in a way to activate imaginations through this retro, yet timeless medium of bendy gas. Hutson’s collection represents a flickering portrait of bygone days and defunct businesses in our region, but their reinstallation provided a gleaming hope for the future.

Hutson is an oddity in his choice of material as he continues to make new work that expresses neon’s power. Exhibiting this work in parallel to reclaimed lighting highlights Hutson’s desire to showcase the evolution, continued relevance and impact of neon art.

-Dana Turkovic, Curator


This series is generously supported by Nancy and Ken Kranzberg. Laumeier Sculpture Park operates in partnership with St. Louis County Parks; projects and programs are supported by the Mark Twain Laumeier Endowment Fund, the Regional Arts Commission, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Missouri Arts Council and the Arts and Education Council of St. Louis.


David Hutson is a neon artist with a specialization in theater production. He has exhibited his artwork nationally and is a consultant for internationally renowned theatrical productions. Hutson lectures extensively about his collection of restored vintage neon signs and serves on numerous historic preservation commissions with a focus on the care and maintenance of objects related to Historic Route 66. Hutson is a key member of the Neon Heritage Preservation Committee of the Route 66 Association of Missouri. Hutson lives in St. Louis, Missouri and owns Neon Time in St. Charles, Missouri where he creates his own work and restores neon signs.