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Art: “Locals Only” at Masthead Print Studios

LocalsOnly_Dan_ GneidingFor its new group exhibition, Locals Only, Masthead Print Studio in NoLibs has partnered with DesignPhiladelphia to celebrate this city’s vibrant drinking culture and that nostalgic feeling of knocking back an ice-cold beer under a warm, welcoming glow of a neon sign.

Now on view at the NoLibs studio space, the collection includes a total of nine one-of-a-kind neon signs, each conceived by a Philly-based illustrator/graphic designer and inspired by their favorite local bars. While some of the featured works are overtly Philly-centric, such as like Kevin Jackson’s “Wuddering Hole” sign, others are befitting of just about any bar, anywhere. Arguably the most clever is Greg Christman’s makeshift signage appropriately titled, “My Wife Said We Couldn’t Afford a Neon Sign” and priced at a humorously inappropriate $5 thousand.

The rest of the featured light creations range between $750-$800, which, while still a little steep, only covers about half of what the artists had to shell out of their own money to have them professionally made. “We all have an appreciation for a good neon sign and have always wanted to design one,” says exhibiting artist Dan Gneiding, the show’s curator. “I thought it would be better to get some friends involved and put together a show rather then just design a sign to keep in the basement.”

With custom topography being such a large part of his daily work, the 34-year-old notes that this is really just an opportunity to take topography into a different medium—a medium that he laments is dying. “LED signs are taking the business away from custom neon because they’re cheaper to produce,” Gneiding explains.

Although several of the artists do have far more affordable screen-prints of their signs available for sale, ultimately they’re hoping local bar owners will invest in the real deal. Gneiding would especially like to see one of his pieces hanging in his most frequented local watering holes: Standard Tap and Johnny Brenda’s.

“They have a neighborhood vibe, local beers and great food,” he says. “Can’t ask for much more then that.”

That is, of course, except for maybe an awesome neon sign.

Through Oct. 12. Closing Reception, Wed/10, 6pm. Masthead Print Studio, 340 Brown St. 215.359.8118.

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