Light in the Dark: Queer Narratives in Neon (Panel Discussion)

Panel Conversation, All Ages
Museum of Neon Art

216 S Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA 91204

Light in the Dark: Queer Narratives in Neon is an exhibition on view at the Museum of Neon Art (MONA) featuring notable items in MONA’s collection include architectural lighting from Man’s Country, Chicago’s longest running gay bathhouse; LA-based bathhouse Midtown spa; as well as the signage for Circus of Books. Neon is a medium that has been pushed forward by Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender artists.  

To pair with the exhibition currently on view at MONA, this special program on October 29 invites audiences to explore their galleries with artists, activists, donors, and MONA community members to learn the fascinating queer histories behind this radiant medium, the exhibition artwork, signage, and even the museum itself. This program will include a presentation featuring MONA tour guide J. Eric Lynxwiler, alongside museum educators and artists. 

Visit here to find out gallery hours for this exhibition.

Participant Bios 

Corrie Siegel’s work as a museum professional is rooted in collaboration, creativity, and pedagogy. Siegel’s community-based approach is informed by her experience as a gallery director, exhibit curator, museum educator, museum administrator, and artist. As Co-Founder and Director of Actual Size Los Angeles, Siegel championed contemporary art and audience engagement for over a decade. In her role as Executive Director of the Museum of Neon Art, Siegel deepens community connections, supports new artistic production and experimentation, and safeguards historic signage and art through new educational, artistic, and funding initiatives. 

Neon enthusiasts know J. Eric Lynxwiler (Tour Guide) as an affable host of memorable Neon Cruises for the Museum of Neon Art, and downtown LA preservationists know him as an LA Conservancy docent for the Broadway Theater district. An urban anthropologist and L.A. native, Eric is the co-author of Spectacular Illumination: Los Angeles Neon 1925–1965; Signs of Life: Los Angeles is the City of Neon; Knott’s Preserved: From Boysenberry to Theme Park, The History of Knott’s Berry Farm; and Wilshire Boulevard: Grand Concourse of Los Angeles. As Board President for the Museum of Neon Art, Eric continues to celebrate LA’s neon heritage. 

Rachel Mason is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker with a background in visual art and music. She received an Emmy Nomination for her Netflix Original Documentary CIRCUS OF BOOKS, Executive Produced by Ryan Murphy. The film explores her biographical story, learning the truth about her parents’ adult bookstore at the center of the gay community. Mason was featured as one of Indiewire’s “25 LGBTQ Filmmakers on the Rise.” Mason is currently directing the official documentary about Halyna Hutchins, with Story Syndicate. She is also directing a series about Billy Newton (aka Billy London) a gay adult film star whose unsolved murder haunted the Los Angeles gay community for 32 years. She directed a three part series with Vox Media Studios for HBOMax set to air in 2023.  

Tyler Kensek is a neon glassblower, educator, and arts administrator based in Los Angeles, CA. 

Dani Bonnet comes from neon roots in Las Vegas, where her grandparents ran a commercial neon repair shop which her father & uncle worked for. She studied Biochemistry and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2015, immediately after she moved to Los Angeles, where she rediscovered her love of neon signage. Using her grandparents’ old neon bending equipment, Dani began an apprenticeship and, after years of pursuit in the craft, now stands as a beacon of creativity in neon artistry. Through her unique fusion of tradition and innovation, Dani’s illuminations not only occupy physical spaces but also the hearts and minds of all who encounter her dazzling artistry. 

This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Neon Art (MONA) as part of the 2023 Circa: Queer Histories Festival, presented by One Institute.  

  • The Museum of Neon Art (MONA) exhibits and collects cutting-edge electric, kinetic, and light- based artworks and historic neon signs to illuminate the past, present, and future through permanent and rotating exhibitions. We spark curiosity through demonstrations, classes, tours, neighborhood-based walks, and bus rides. All neon signs are handmade. By teaching this craft we build human connections to science and technology. We forge bridges between history, science, and creative expression to foster dialogue across diverse communities. The Museum MONA is dedicated to expanding the field of the museum to encourage critical thinking, preservation, and community engagement.