Sheila Swan; Peter Laufer Neon Nevada

ISBN 13: 9780874172461

Neon Nevada

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9780874172461: Neon Nevada
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Each night, as twilight descends on cities and towns across Nevada, the desert night sky is lit with the glow of hundreds of neon signs. Whether the signs are a part of the shimmering onslaught of Las Vegas's Glitter Gulch, a lone cowboy beckoning travelers on Interstate 80, or a simple martini glass on a tavern sign, they are an element of Nevada's cultural heritage. After all, in the words of one veteran sign maker, "Neon and flashing lights mean Nevada. Without neon and flashing lights, you might as well be anywhere."
In the early 1970s, Swan and Laufer set out to chronicle this cultural heritage in photographs as a means of preserving an art form that was at the time fast dying out. Neon Nevada combines these photographs, many of signs no longer in existence, with newer photos of signs installed during the recent renaissance in neon. It is a lighthearted, charming record of images from the generic to the unforgettable.
The accompanying text provides a brief history of neon sign-making, from its beginnings in Paris to its spread across the United States, pointing out in particular how it found its perfect setting in Nevada. The text is also a captivating description of how Swan and Laufer came to fall in love with neon - a love that the reader will grow to share - and of their travels in search of signs to immortalize.

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Review:

Something's glowing out in the desert night, but it isn't New Mexico, and these creatures aren't visitors from another planet. There is a pig with wings--who may well be fleeing the Nevada barbecue establishment he advertises--and a creature who looks something like Elmer Fudd with a lightning bolt for a body. But that's as close as we get to alien beings, unless you count the penguin in a ten-gallon hat and cowboy boots. These colorful images of cartoon cowboys, cowgirls, women bathing in martini glasses, and martinis sans women illuminate an aspect of Americana--the neon sign--that has been largely neglected.

From the Inside Flap:

There is no neon to match Nevada’s. The combination of Wild West mythology and the remaining untamed pitch-black nighttime landscape, replete with real cowboys and real gambling, makes the Silver State a unique and appropriate canvas for neon art. Modern Nevada began with a nonstop desire for riches. It continues for many as a state of dreams often vividly expressed through exploding neon. Neon Nevada brings all this alive.
Cameras in hand, authors Sheila Swan and Peter Laufer embarked on their first Nevada neon trek in the 1970s. They followed this up with a second nocturnal treasure hunt in the early 1990s—and a third in 2010, in the course of which they discovered that neon is fading fast; most notably on the Las Vegas Strip. Most of all, though, they realized that their passion for the art and craft of neon had not waned.
A compelling blend of full-color photographs and absorbing prose, Neon Nevada takes us on a literal and figurative journey not only down the Las Vegas strip but also down quiet two-lane roads punctuated occasionally with neon signs, those glittering beacons of civilization against the desert night sky. The authors talk with sign owners, with those who created and maintained the neon, and those who collect it.

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Swan, Sheila, Laufer, Peter
Published by Univ of Nevada Pr (1994)
ISBN 10: 0874172462 ISBN 13: 9780874172461
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