Immediately upon entering Dylan Neuwirth‘s solo show MMXIV at Vermillion one is met with the declaration ‘good morning haters’ written in cursive and formed out of bright white neon. With this salutation seared into your eyeballs you can now take in 19 other works similarly crafted in the artist’s own handwriting and brought to life through the medium of neon.
Neuwirth is capable of many things, but what he excels at is what I consider his conceptual art, and by this I mean art that he conceives and then has made through the collaborations with craftsmen and artisans working in a variety of mediums from neon to hand blown glass and even laminated plexiglass, all of which he closely works with to realize his vision. The artist thinks large and bringing a work to life is rarely confined to any size or form, but rather is only limited by who Neuwirth chooses to work with, which is consistently someone of great talent that allows for pushing boundaries aggressively.
For MMXIV Neuwirth has gone smaller than I would have expected, but in doing so he has in my mind created a body of work that is immensely covetable. I see these works, 20 in total each in editions of 3, to be small yet fully realized works that show a concise sample of how he thinks and what he is capable of creating. The neon works are mostly in the 2 foot long range , striped bare of any armature or correlation to commercial signage, and are specially bent to replicate the artist’s handwriting employing bends in the neon that would never be created if this were a commercial sign. There is some serious detail in this work, try finding that in the artworks of most other artists that conceptually work in neon.
Another aspect of this show that impresses me is that it came about rather abruptly when the artist was asked if he wanted to use the space around Thanksgiving of last year. Just a little over a month later the artist, his girlfriend, and master neon craftsman Kelsey Fernkopf of Western Neon were installing the work as Nancy Guppy’s Art Zone crew filmed. That is an incredible turn around time to take one of many possible ideas for a body of work to a polished and blindingly bright realization.
I’ve been in frequent correspondence with Neuwirth since the show went up, he’s generously fielded any and all questions that I might have as I grasped for a way to fully understand the show. One comment that stands out above all others is when the artist wrote that this was the most ‘pop’ show that he has ever done. This clearly resonated with me as I began to realize just how pop it was on so many levels. Neuwirth is referencing contemporary social interactions culled from tweets that broadly apply to most anyone with an online presence whether or not IRL or LOL are in your everyday rotation. We are almost all aware of the vernacular that Neuwirth is using, and his work is open to interpretation, whether you take the sayings to heart, or cynically write them off as what the kids are saying these days. They are a snapshot of our time, preserved in gas under glass, broadcast to your retinas in electric white light, you simply can’t look away.
MMXIV is up through February 8th at the Capitol Hill art gallery and bar Vermillion. Works range from $900 to $2,700 and come with a cinder block.