Arts and Culture

A pink neon sign in the shape of a woman resting in a large martini glass glows from the window of The Sandpiper in Elko.
Peter and Sheila Laufer

Nevada’s urban hubs and hidden rural pockets have long been dotted with neon signs. Authors Peter Laufer and Sheila Laufer used to live in Silver City and have crisscrossed Nevada three times over 40 years, hunting that neon. Their book, Neon Nevada, captures the changing story of neon across the region with colorful images and detailed narratives. Holly Hutchings caught up with them to learn about what they saw on their nocturnal quests.

Sheila and Peter Laufer

As part of the "Sparked: Northern Nevada's Neon" series we are taking you on a visual road trip across rural Nevada to explore some of the states iconic neon signs. Images for this storymap were provided by Sheila and Peter Laufer, authors of Neon Nevada

Jana Sayson

In 1872, a lead box was embedded in the foundation of the Reno Mercantile building. On Tuesday, the contents of this time capsule were revealed to the public. As KUNR’s Bree Zender reports, the box housed newspapers, coins, a bottle opener and a few surprises. 

An old, faded sign stands tall with the letters for "motel" stacked high.
Holly Hutchings

Motels are coming down in Reno, and with that, their signs - works of art and advertising from the automobile revolution - have been lost. While Reno redevelops, bits of roadside history are being discarded. A few dedicated folks are working to recognize and also preserve these icons. KUNR’s Holly Hutchings learned more and has this report.

A man and woman sit at a computer, working on a website to digitally preserve neon signs.
Holly Hutchings

You’ve heard of classic neon signs of bygone buildings being preserved in museums and boneyards, but one professor at the University of Nevada, Reno is taking preservation digital. Dr. Katherine Hepworth is working with a team to document neon signs from Reno’s past, as well as signs left standing, with the goal of eventually allowing all to access and enjoy the design and history of the signs. KUNR’s Holly Hutchings talked to her about the project and has this interview.

Video: 38 Years Of Making Neon In Northern Nevada

Apr 4, 2019
A man stands in front of a work table, holding a small neon sign.
Krysta Scripter

Ken Hines has been working with neon for 38 years and describes himself as the last full-time neon tube-bender in Northern Nevada, making him an asset to the local sign industry. He won't be around forever though, and when KUNR first met him, he was looking for an apprentice. 

Since then, he's found one, and he expects to stay in business for another 10 or so years while also teaching his craft to the next generation.  KUNR took a look inside his studio at Artech to learn more. 

A man in a plaid shirt bends a tube of glass while blowing into it as part of his neon craft.
Holly Hutchings

Blowing and bending glass tubes his whole working life, Ken Hines has helped illuminate the Reno skyline for nearly forty years by creating countless neon signs, but his workload has dwindled and craftsman like him are fading away, like the neon they create. KUNR’s Holly Hutchings caught up with Hines at his work station at Artech, a coworking space in Reno, and has his story.

Virginia Street in Reno at night.
Holly Hutchings

Neon and Nevada go hand in hand. The flashing tube lights are synonymous with the Silver State and have long told our story. Neon has surged in popularity at times and fizzled out in others. KUNR's Arts and Culture Reporter Holly Hutchings has been looking into this integral part of Nevada's identity and talked with News Director Michelle Billman about the stories she’s discovered.

White cans with blue ones in the center in the shape of a platapus.
Holly Hutchings

Whether it’s an octopus or the pyramids of Giza, 12 teams of builders are using canned good to bring hunger awareness to the community through the art of “can sculpting.” 

A group of three people gather in front paintings depicting Northern Nevada.
Holly Hutchings

Fifty-three Carson City artists are putting their work on a stage seen by millions a year, the walls of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Holly Hutchings has the story.

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