Synopses & Reviews
There is no neon to match Nevadas. The combination of Wild West mythology and the remaining untamed pitch-black nighttime landscape, replete with real cowboys and real gambling, makes the Silver State a unique and appropriate canvas for neon art. Modern Nevada began with a nonstop desire for riches. It continues for many as a state of dreams often vividly expressed through exploding neon. Neon Nevada
brings all this alive.
Cameras in hand, authors Sheila Swan and Peter Laufer embarked on their first Nevada neon trek in the 1970s. They followed this up with a second nocturnal treasure hunt in the early 1990s—and a third in 2010, in the course of which they discovered that neon is fading fast; most notably on the Las Vegas Strip. Most of all, though, they realized that their passion for the art and craft of neon had not waned.
A compelling blend of full-color photographs and absorbing prose, Neon Nevada takes us on a literal and figurative journey not only down the Las Vegas strip but also down quiet two-lane roads punctuated occasionally with neon signs, those glittering beacons of civilization against the desert night sky. The authors talk with sign owners, with those who created and maintained the neon, and those who collect it.
A glowing celebration of illuminated art in the world's neon capital
Something’s glowing out in the desert night, but it isn’t New Mexico, and these creatures aren’t visitors from another planet. There is a pig with wingswho may well be fleeing the Nevada barbecue establishment he advertisesand a creature who looks something like Elmer Fudd with a lightning bolt for a body. But that’s as close as we get to alien beings, unless you count the penguin in a ten-gallon hat and cowboy boots. These colorful images of cartoon cowboys, cowgirls, women bathing in martini glasses, and martinis sans women illuminate an aspect of Americanathe neon signthat has been largely neglected.
Well, Neon Nevada brings all this and more truly alive. Focusing on Las Vegaswhich has more than thirty million visitors annuallyit is a compelling blend of full-color photographs throughout and fun, lively historical text.
Neon Nevada is at once a stirring ode to a fading tradition and a celebration of a unique modern art, one whose pages will bring back memories while, perhaps, also conjuring up dreams of the future.
Ride along with Sheila Swan and Peter Laufer as they take you on their journey through Nevada
in search of historical neon signs.
About the Author
Peter Laufer, PhD, is the author of more than a dozen books, including his widely praised The Dangerous World of Butterflies (Lyons Press) and Wetback Nation: The Case for Opening the Mexican-American Border. He is the James Wallace Chair in Journalism at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. More about his work, which has received the George Polk, Edward R. Murrow, and other awards, at peterlaufer.com. Sheila Swan Laufer learned photography as an assistant in her father's portrait studio. She joined the Nevada Craft Guild shortly after it was founded, and there began her study of Nevada's relationship with neon. Memoirs of her experiences on the road are collected in her book Safety and Security for Women Who Travel. She served as the associate producer and editor of the award-winning documentary film "Exodus to Berlin" and her current photography is focused on Polaroid transfer and emulsion prints.