BURNING BRIGHT. Matt Dilling is a living legend in the world of neon. His Brooklyn studio Lite Brite Neon mixes high-art sensibilities and commercial nostalgia. As Alice Gregory writes:
Lite Brite — no relation to the light-up pegboard game of the ’70s — lives in New York City’s Old American Can Factory, by the Gowanus Canal’s Fifth Street Basin in Brooklyn. The 130,000 square foot industrial complex was built in 1886, underwent a five-year redevelopment in 2003, and is now the site of a creative manufacturing community that feels utopian and optimistic, like Silicon Valley but Brooklynized: artfully rustic and distinctly artisanal. Along with the artists who have studios in the building (Nicole Eisenman, Seth Price, Paul Ramirez-Jonas, Glenn Ligon) , some of the curated tenants include Rooftop Films, Archipelago Books, Ugly Duckling Presse, CUP (Center for Urban Pedagogy) and Elsewhere Films.
The six interconnected buildings — all silvered inside — center on an open courtyard, which feels pleasantly panoptical but also feudal, like a self-sufficient schloss. Standing in the middle, looking up at all the lit windows, you want to see a cross-section of the place. The Lite Brite space itself is remarkable, like an exploded Rube Goldberg machine spangled with rainbows. Dusty glass beakers line the window sills, a walleyed Felix the Cat clock ticks near the door, Afro wigs hang from a vise clip, and a row of high school lockers is labeled in pink with the names of employees: Bean, Sergio, Wayne. The neon signs illuminate the shop like set pieces from some postmodern novel. Brands blink and suspended phrases glow, free of context: SCHAEFER BEER; INTERPOL; A VERY ANXIOUS FEELING; MATADOR; FREE SYMPATHY; SONY; CHANEL; INCOME TAX PREPARED HERE.
Read the full story.