Neon Art Show

Beneath the Bright Lights: Neon Artist Todd Sanders Leads Tour of Bentonville Signage

Famed neon artist Todd Sanders visited Bentonville to lead a special Neon Art Stroll, highlighting his works on public display everywhere from local businesses to alleyways.    

The stroll, sponsored by Downtown Bentonville Inc., Arvest Bank, Runway Group and Visit Bentonville, brought nearly 100 art enthusiasts to the lobby of the Arvest Bank in Downtown Bentonville, a fitting use for a branch that sees neon as an important part of its own history.

“The use of neon was incorporated into our branches in the early 90’s as a nod to the retail environment, while providing a warm and inviting feeling to our branch locations,” said Arvest Bank Marketing Manager Kyle Roberts. “So to host a legendary neon artist, and to introduce members of our community to his work in such a personal way, really felt full circle for us.”

The tour took attendees to several of Sanders’ pieces throughout Downtown Bentonville and beyond, where the artist talked about his motivations in design and crafting, as well as his methods.

Standing beneath the bright red light of his own art in a pair of cowboy boots, Sanders embodied the slice of Americana he works to convey in his signage.  He spoke with a smile about Bentonville, a place that in some sense represents his public portfolio—on display in a way it is nowhere else in the country. 

“Bentonville presents a rare opportunity to see my pieces publicly,” Sanders said. “I like to call myself a neon archaeologist, because all of these signs have a history, and that’s on display here.”

The history of neon is a storied one. At its inception, it was part advertisement and part beacon—a nod to road-weary travelers, a promise of fun, and a statement in its own right. It hearkens to a period in American history when cars were cool, and its roots are part popular culture and part commerce.

The archaeology comparison is fitting for someone as driven by preservation and meaning as Sanders is.

“I call neon the first graffiti,” Sanders said outside The Holler, standing under an arrow emblazoned ‘This Is It.’ “It was making a statement. It was street art.”

More than just statement-makers, Sanders’ pieces are handcrafted, hand painted and composed from primarily found materials—roadside relics that represent an important part of history, but have something to say about the future, too.

“A lot of my work is a commentary on our nature. The Modern piece, for example, is a Sputnik,” Sanders said, referencing the Modern sign hanging downtown. Then, gesturing to a nearby cellphone, he continued: “These are the Sputniks of 2018—and the point is just that—modern is fleeting, because it’s constantly changing.”
 

This special neon stroll was a presentation of Downtown Bentonville Inc, Visit Bentonville and Arvest Bank. For more information on art initiatives in Downtown Bentonville, follow DBI, Visit Bentonville and Arvest Bank on Facebook and Instagram.

Photos via Meredith Mashburn & Michael Drager
Blog Written by TJ Stallbaumer

Space Jam Court

Had been eyeing this basketball court in Rogers, Arkansas for the past few years. I knew with a little creativity it could play a bigger role in the park. The concept was to play off the classic basketball game "around the world". From there the love of Mars Blackmon and Michael Jordan commercials and the movie Space Jam, the concept was born. We then enlisted the help of artist Graham Edwards to bring it to the next level. Swish. 

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Migrating Mural

We went big this year and none was bigger than the 6 story installation of the #MigratingMural at the Municipal Airport Tower in Springdale, Arkansas. I had been talking with INK DWELL a San Fransisco based art studio about their Migrating Mural project for over a year and through the help of the Walton Family Foundation, we were able to make it a reality. The artwork is focused on the Monarch butterfly and their critical role in the pollination of all plant life. Truly a remarkable species and one that has seen it's number dwindle in recent years and is actively needing more people to invest in creating monarch weigh stations that have milkweed plants that provide the monarch with the source of food necessary for reproduction. 

At first, we didn't have a location but after multiple discussions about how to activate local airports to make them more approachable and public art on the Razorback Greenway bike trail,  the airport tower was the clear-cut choice as it lies directly on the Greenway! It was no easy task scaling up the artwork but after some trial and error, we landed on a method of taking the original painting and digitally printing it to vinyl and wrapping laser cut aluminum sign stock that then attached to a custom frame and mounted to the tower. Check out some of the pics below of the install and subsequent celebration. 

 

 

Bentonville Skate Park Project

At the start of the year, I set out to reinvent public places that I thought were in need of some creative investment. One target was the Bentonville Skate & BMX Park located at Memorial Park.  This park had seen better days and although utilized had become a sad representation of the creative class that I knew the skate scene as embodying. After a long process of working with the city I was able to get permission to graphically overhaul the park. Through the help and creativity of MARS advertising, BIKENWA, and the students from Bentonville High School's IGNITE program. We decided to a topographical map as the artwork on the park. It took two weeks and a small army of volunteers but we pulled it off and celebrated with a launch event that just crushed with yours truly djing and a massive trick contest. Peep some of the photos from before and after. 

 

Opal Agafia Music Video

Had the opportunity to work with Northwest Arkansas based folk singer Opal Agafia and her band the Sweet Nothings on a video shoot in a 100yr old school house nestled deep in the Ozark woods. Check it out! 

 

 

Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings performing the classic blues song "St. James Infirmary" live and acoustic at a 100 year old school house deep in the Arkansas Ozark forest. Keep up with the band: http://www.opalagafia.com Videography: http://www.abboriginal.com

Faces of NWA Photoshoot

Excited to show off some of the photos from our Artinfusion at Crystal Bridges #facesofNWA shoot a few months back at the Record in #bentonville. Check out the works from three fantastic photographers, Miles Witt BoyerKat Wilson, and Brandon Watts. Just the start of showcasing the beautiful people of Northwest Arkansas.

https://goo.gl/photos/B63bw5tsVW3QvnZu8

 

Projection Mapping Frank Lloyd Wright Home

Had the amazing opportunity to do some #projectionmapping on Frank Lloyd Wrights Bachman-Wilson house at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on Frank's 150th birthday.  Peep the pictures and video in the link below. 

Abboriginal talks NWA Growth and Potential

Had the opportunity to talk with High-Velocity Radio about all the amazing work and opportunities we have in Northwest Arkansas. If you can't wade through the 20 minutes do me a favor and skip to the last 5 and hear what I think "we need more of" in NWA. #runwaynwa #abboriginal

http://highvelocityradio.businessradiox.com/2017/05/26/runway-group/

NYE at Crystal Bridges

Abboriginal rang in 2017 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. We were responsible for main stage design which included custom artwork created by local artist Anthony Davis that was used to projection map upon. We built a chandelier and custom light boxes to round out the visual look. The musical acts were RozenBridge a local cello and guitar group that really has some impressive tunes in their repertoire and DJ Jumbii a long time friend of Abboriginal. Here are a few videos from the evening to give you some scope of the production. 

IMBA World Summit

Abboriginal has been fortunate to work on the procuring, promotion, and production of the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) World Summit. The process had been years in the making and the event exceeded every expectation truly a huge week for Bentonville and Arkansas. There were 7 venues in flex and we had gear all over the region and ran the main production at the newly minted Record in downtown #Bentonville. We also finished up installing artist Leftyeyeball huge 3D sculpture at Pedaler's Pub that is bike themed! Here are a few snaps from the weekend including a video of some projection mapping we did at the Meteor Theater afterparty Saturday night. So many great things to replay for you all but I know attention spans are short so shoot me an email if you want more info about the weeks production. 

VIDEO INSTALLATION - BOTTLE ROCKET GALLERY

Excited to curate and participate in a video focused art show at Bottle Rocket Gallery. I help manage the building and help find and help artists in the community. It's been a lot of fun so far and we have managed to really shake it up in #Bentonville. July 1st Abboriginal and a group of other artists are installing various forms of video sculpture and interactive installations. Check out the event page here to learn more.

Bentonville Sessions Concert Series

Abboriginal teamed up with the crew from the Bentonville Sessions to help produce songwriter Will Gunselman's set. Love that sweet acoustic sound breathing life into one of town's oldest buildings. 

Will Gunselman performing live at the Bentonville Sessions 5/26/16. Support the Artists: https://willgunselman.bandcamp.com/ More information on the Bentonville Sessions: http://www.facebook.com/bvillesessions Videography: http://www.abboriginal.com