Pretty Vacant

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In the exhibition, Pretty Vacant, lens-based artists Todd Bates and Selina Roman examine the colorful underbelly of roadside Americana. The works, a combination of screen prints and large-scale photographs, imbue not only a sense of nostalgia but mysteriousness and foreboding. Bates traverses America looking for the ideal vintage neon signs for his graphic screen prints and reimagined-photographs. Roman, on the other hand, stays close sliding into Florida’s mid-century era motel rooms where she photographs willing participants for her series Please Disturb.

As a graphic designer and photographer, Todd Bates has been attracted to old neon signs since the early nineties. He sees these relics as an art form, one that is quickly disappearing from tourist routes across America. For years now, Bates has traveled the country documenting those signs and has crafted a collection of bold images inspired by their distinctive typography and luminescent colors. In re-imagined photographs and silk-screened gig-poster treatments, Bates transforms neon artifacts into dreamy landscapes and graphic oddities.

Selina Roman’s photographic work explores ideas of femininity, perception, liminality, place, and how the invisible offers more answers than the visible. In her ongoing series, Please Disturb, she photographs participants in aging mid-century motels. From peeling pastel exteriors to the dated tropical linens, it’s these endearing characteristics that set them apart from the homogenized chain motels and where she finds the most inspiration. The motels serve as metaphors for aging beauty, dark pasts, secrets and transformation. She received her Masters of fine arts degree from the University of South Florida in 2013.

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MIZE Gallery

689 Dr MLK Jr Street N, Unit C, Saint Petersburg, Florida 33701

September 13-29th, 2019.

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Sign Hunting on Route 66

The Vintage Neon Project was out west on a sign hunting expedition. We drove the mother road from Flagstaff to Tucumcari and back. Such a beautiful part of the county, also a bit sad. Many of the signs that existed along the way have been snapped up by collectors. Those signs are the reason I was there, spending money, visiting those small towns along the way. As the signs go away, so too will the visitors who seek them out.

I created this video from the trip, have a look!

The World Liquors sign is no more (kind of)

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The iconic World Liquors sign in St. Petersburg, FL has been taken down. Rather than head to the scrap yard or a private collection, the sign was purchased by the owner of Fergs, a restaurant down the street from this sign's original location. In interviews, Ferg has expressed interest in re-purposing the sign to advertise his restaurant. This wouldn't be the first time the sign has been re-purposed, as it was originally a furniture store sign.