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Marblehead exhibit celebrates vintage signs of Massachusetts

Modern Moonlight

"Cocktails Kenmore," a painting by Kristen Nygren.

(Photo by Courtesy Photo)

Modern Moonlight

"6:30AM," a painting by Kristen Nygren.

(Photo by Courtesy Photo)

MARBLEHEAD — Beginning Saturday, Aug. 11, visitors to the Marblehead Arts Association will be able to view a unique series of paintings by Marblehead native Kristen Nyberg. “Modern Moonlight” celebrates the beauty of vintage neon signs and raises the question of how these elements from the past enhance the spaces we inhabit in the present.

Nyberg said the exhibit name is taken from the 1972 Jonathan Richman song, “Roadrunner,” which declares “I’m in love with Massachusetts and the neon when it’s cold outside,” extolling the joys of driving around suburban Boston “…with the radio on at night. And me in love with modern moonlight.”

Depicting various Massachusetts locations, some iconic and some overlooked, Nyberg’s images make an argument that in a world overwhelmed by redevelopment, we should do more to preserve the vintage signage and architecture that connect us to our rich visual past.

“I began documenting vintage signage in the area in 2003 and have had to mark an increasing number of my photo files as “Gone,” said Nyberg. “Some view these signs as outdated or kitschy, but they represent another era in design. Each one is made by hand, and neon bending is a dying art. I applaud Dave Waller, who has single-handedly saved so many great vintage pieces from destruction.  His collection can be seen as part of the Beyond Walls initiative in Lynn and this summer’s installation on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. I’m not arguing that the Back Bay should adopt a Vegas veneer, but asking folks to think twice before razing older façades to make way for faceless condos. How boring will our streets be if all the noirish mystery and romantic glow of these pieces are extinguished?”

The “Modern Moonlight” exhibit will run from Aug. 11 to Sept. 23, with an opening reception Thursday, Aug. 16, 6 to 8 p.m., at the Marblehead Arts Association, 8 Hooper St. For additional information, go to nybergdesign.com or marbleheadarts.org.

 

 

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