Museum of Neon Art teams up with whiskey maker to restore vintage neon sign

Glendale’s Museum of Neon Art has collaborated with Bulleit Frontier Whiskey to create a new piece of neon art as part of a fundraising effort to help restore a historic 1940s neon sign.

Lisa Schulte, a longtime neon-art sculptor and member of the museum’s board, made a neon sign that’s currently on display at Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles. The sign, illustrated by Brendan Donnelly, features the Bulleit logo surrounded by a dozen “L.A.-inspired” designs.

“The illustration was already jumping off the page in my eyes because I pretty much see everything in neon anyway,” Schulte said.

Schulte, who is also known as the “Neon Queen,” said the museum’s work on neon sign restoration aligns itself with Bulleit’s celebration and preservation of handcrafted work.

“[Old buildings in Los Angeles] are being knocked down at an alarming rate, and we’re starting to lose a lot of the architecture that was originally here in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s,” Schulte said. “The ongoing effort [by] the museum and Bulleit will help bring awareness that [neon] is art, and it’s not being built like [it used to] anymore today.”

The fundraising effort asks visitors to share a photo of the new neon sign on social media using #FrontierWorks, named after Bulleit’s campaign to recognize “modern cultural creators.” The whiskey maker will donate $10 for tagged photos by an adult 21 years old and older that will go toward the restoration of a neon sign called “Dale’s Cocktail.”

According to a Bulleit spokesperson, the damaged sign was recovered from a war-era dive bar in Alameda, which was a popular place with U.S. Navy sailors. The cost of restoring the sign is estimated at $10,000. As of Aug. 31, the social media campaign had raised $3,000.

Once restored, the Museum of Neon Art plans to display the Dale’s Cocktail sign as part of its collection.

The new Bulleit Frontier Works neon sign by Schulte and Donnelly is on display until the middle of November at Grand Central Market, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles.

Twitter: @JeffLanda