Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Aug 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Everything Is Illuminated

ae2-1Local neon artist Brian Coleman reveals his latest creations at the Felix Kulpa Gallery

Local abstract neon artist Brian Coleman creates colorful arcing, looping, cursive-shaped patterns from glass tubes filled with glowing gasses—xenon, krypton, subtle amounts of argon, and once in a while a pinch of Mercury for bright reds.

The results, he says, are other-worldly.

Ironically, he rarely uses Neon gas, which glows too bright and orange—he says he prefers more subtlety.

Around 35 of Coleman’s most recent art creations will be on display at the Felix Kulpa Gallery & Sculpture Garden from Nov. 23 to Dec. 30.

The 67-year-old artist has been practicing neon art for 40 years, and says it has taken a good portion of that time, and lots of patience, to develop his style.

After graduating from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. with a degree in industrial design, Coleman’s passion for neon grew while designing an elaborate cold cathode and neon lighting installment for an interior design firm in New York City.

Coleman says he was not interested in art when he was young. He grew up in Minnesota on an organic farm and was entirely caught up in the rural lifestyle. It wasn’t until his family moved to New York City when he was 15 that Coleman started to look at the world with an artist’s eye.

Today, Coleman is regarded as a pioneer in the neon art form. He was exceptionally successful in Europe during the ‘80s, which he describes as his most prolific period.

ae2-2A younger Brian Coleman poses with some of his neon creations in 1976.He works with specialized glass tubing that he heats delicately using open flame sources until the glass reaches its melting point, and then begins shaping the tubes. Each newly formed tube is sealed on the ends with metal electrodes. When electricity is passed across the electrodes, the gases are ionized, causing them to emit colorful fluorescent light.

“It’s like painting with the cleanest lines you’ve ever seen,” Coleman says. “So in-focus.”

He admits that his artistic process is incredibly difficult, especially since it requires intense scrutiny to ensure that the glass tubes are perfectly clean. Otherwise they won’t work. “It’s an extremely exacting process,” he says.

These days, Coleman divides his time between Santa Cruz and Big Sur, where he is currently working on projects for his upcoming exhibition at the Felix Kulpa Gallery. A self-described romantic, he says his time in the pristine forests and mountains of Big Sur is influencing his artwork greatly, and he’s very eager to show Santa Cruz what he’s been creating.

At the exhibition, much of his work will be for sale, which he says is one of the most difficult parts of creating art—not getting people to buy it, but parting with it. He says he would prefer to spend at least a few years with many of his abstract neon pieces to “become closer with the works, try to better understand them, enjoy them and see if they withstand the test of time.”

Coleman made his home in Santa Cruz from 1972 to 2010. For 18 of those years, he lived in a studio several blocks from the beach on Pleasure Point. He later moved to a ranch in Corralitos, but after two years, his home was foreclosed on and he was forced to start over.

“It was a great loss, but I’m finding that when you accept a loss, it loses its tenacity,” he says. Since the experience he has discovered a newfound enthusiasm to create art.

“I love my work. I love the constant search for new techniques and new colors,” he says. “I want people to see the beauty of lights.” 


Brian Coleman’s neon art exhibit runs Nov. 23-Dec. 30 at the Felix Kulpa Gallery & Sculpture Garden, 107 Elm St., Santa Cruz. For details, visit felixkulpa.com.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

His Dinner With David

Author + reporter = brainy talk in ‘End of the Tour’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual