San Francisco Neon

creating neon culture/community


Local neon historians Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan are available for neon talks, tours, video screenings, and/or photo exhibits. Neon talks can be customized to connect with audiences on many levels: science, art, popular culture, design, typography, city history, and the growing national movement to preserve and appreciate landmark neon signs. Contact us to schedule an ONLINE neon event, talk,  walking tour, or exhibition.


Neon event partners in include: Art Deco Society of California, Atlas Obscura, California Historical Society, California Preservation Foundation, Cooper Union Type West, Exploratorium, International Association of Lighting Designers, Letterform Archive, Mechanics Institute Library, Midway Gallery,  National Trust for Historic Preservation, Noir City Film Festival, RayKo Photography Center Gallery, Portola Neighborhood Association, San Francisco City Guides, SF Design Week, San Francisco Heritage, San Francisco History Association, San Francisco History Days, San Francisco Public Library, Society for Experiential Graphic Design SF,  the Tenderloin Museum, and TypeCon.

Aug 2-5,  2018  Portland, OR

TypeCon 2018 & Portland Neon Tour

Presented by the Society of Typographic Aficionados. We were honored that SF Neon was invited to present in the same conference with so many type luminaries like Nina Stossinger, Louise Fili, Paul Shaw, the list is long. And how much fun to be co-hosts on the Electric Letterland  Portland Neon walking tour for #Typecon2018. It is always illuminating to work on a project with @katewiddows! We met 20 lovely typographers on the tour, and learned so much @typecon. Logo design: Kate Widdows

Photo  by Hans J. Orth,  1960 Warsaw, Poland

Nov 14, 2019 Tenderloin Museum, SF

Mid-Century Neon in Warsaw, Havana, and SF

Presented by SF Neon and the Tenderloin Museum this evening features a series of slide presentations and discussions to explore neon’s various forms and functions in Warsaw, Havana, and San Francisco. Featuring slides of Cuban neon from Tenderloin Museum Executive Director Katie Conry’s and Steven Spiegel of Signs United’s recent trips to Havana.  SF Neon will give an overview of the current projects to restore vintage neon in San Francisco. Following the slide presentations will be a screening of NEON, Eric Bednarski’s award-winning documentary on the neonization of Warsaw and Poland in the Cold War era. In this gorgeous film, Bednarski uncovers the remarkable Polish neon design of 1960s and 1970s in Warsaw.

Neon Light Source & Letterforms

From the flashing signs of tourist traps to the forgotten signs whose ghostly white tubes remain unlit, neon signs represent a bridge from past to the future. Join SF Neon founders, Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, with typography guru Shelley Gruendler, for a journey to examine some of the most fascinating neon sign survivors and preservation projects in the Bay Area. Rare neon books and smaple cases on display courtesy of  Dydia  DeLyser and aul Greenstein.
SF Design Week | Tuesday, 6/12/2018 | 7 pm  at the Tenderloin Museum.

The Neon Speaks Festival & Symposium exceeded  expectations and the community support for historic neon preservation was inspiring. 
Thanks to all the speakers,  sponsors, everyone who attended! Join the Neon Speaks Mailing List to find out about future symposiums.

Atlas Obscura Neon Works Shop Tour

Oakland Mayor promotes neon restoration!  We had a surprise visit from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, posing here with Jim and Kate Rizzo. Jim and Kate graciously hosted a neon event at Neon Works HQ, organized by Bart Bernhardt for Atlas Obscura. We did our neon preservation talk, Jim gave a shop tour, and Libby Cahill did a tube-bending demo. It was so much fun we would love to do it again for our mailing list subscribers, stay posted. The time is ripe for an Oakland neon renaissance, and Mayor Schaaf told us she wants to find a way to illuminate vintage neon in her city... We are working with Oakland neon advocates and the mayor's community engagement office to create a series of neon bike tours in Oakland for 2018. Please let us know if you have a favorite vintage neon sign in Oakland! Check out this awesome map of Oakland vintage signs from the prolific Our Oakland blog by Gene Anderson. Atlas Obscura Neon Works Shop Tour |  7/123/2017 | 7 pm

Neon Works, 967 Grace Avenue, Oakland

Avenue Theater Restoration

SF Mayor Ed Lee was there to help flip the switch to reveal the Avenue's towering restored neon sign,celebrated with live organ music, ice cream, and plenty of popcorn!  We were thrilled to have the opportunity to design a neon sign "The AVE" for the marquee. Kudos to Jim Rizzo /Neon Works team for another excellent neon restoration project of an historic cinema treasure. This restoration is a project of the Portola Neighborhood Association and the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Don't miss the cool fly-over video in Hoodline article. Avenue Theatre | Wednesday, 9/13/2017 | 7 pm 2675 San Bruno Avenue SF

All photos © 2014 Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan

All content © 2020 Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan