Roxy Rose’s Neon Art Exhibition | Tenderloin Museum
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Tenderloin Museum | 398 Eddy St., San Francisco, CA
Submitted by the Event Organizer
oin us at TLM on May 2nd to catch Roxy Rose’s neon art exhibition, “Neon Family.” We are holding these special evening hours (6pm-9pm) so you can bask in the glow of this special neon art!
Be sure to make us a stop on your SF First Thursday Art Walk.
The pieces in Neon Family: A Tribute by Roxy Rose have each been created as expressions of loving memory of Roxy’s father, Rio Score II, who passed away in February 2019, and in tribute to their four-generation family neon business, Alert-Lite Neon, which closed in November 2018. Each work was completely created by Roxy—from cutting and shaping the metal, to painting it, to bending and pumping the neon tubing—to reflect on Rio Score II’s life, revealing also a piece of Roxy’s own biography, all through the glow of neon.
When Roxy came out as transgender in 2010, able to manifest on the outside what she’d always felt on the inside, she began to see her craft and skills as more than a blue-collar trade or a way of expressing a client’s ideas, but instead as a way of expressing a long-sublimated part of her own identity—that of an artist, able to express herself through works of neon.
Roxy Rose Score grew up in a neon family. Her grandfather, Rio Score, founded Alert-Lite Neon in 1946, raising his son, Rio Score II, in the family trade. Like her father, Roxy was raised in the family neon shop, learning the neon trade from childhood along with her brothers in a rigid-but-informal apprenticeship that stressed speed and accuracy along with the highest level of expert craftspersonship.
Alert-Lite had built their business in wholesale, high-output production neon: though each piece of glass was shaped by hand, “tube benders” like Rio and Roxy often made hundreds—or even thousands—of the same letters, words, or symbols. Working long hours with their bare hands holding hot glass over gas flames made benders like Rio and Roxy strong, and decades of care schooled them in the finest points of their craft. But the pressures of production neon did not often emphasize artistic expression, and Rio and Roxy were each compelled to express their craft skills creatively, using neon as art.
For Rio, that could mean creating a bouquet of neon roses for his wife, or a neon carousel for one of his children. A little sparkle of artistic joy, made with skill, love, and care. For Roxy, neon art came differently: she began to collect and restore historic neon signs in the 1980s, and shifted the family sign shop from high-volume production toward bespoke signs that allowed her to better showcase both her skill as a tube bender and her artistic eye. Her turn to neon works explicitly as works of art came later, after she sold the business, as part of more profound transition: her own gender transition.
Categories: Art & Museums