Neon Dragon Neon artist Michael Flechtner installed a sculpture of Tiffin University’s dragon in Heminger Center in January. The sculpture is 42 inches wide and 41 inches tall.
Flechtner’s first encounters with the neon medium were from growing up in Tiffin. “There was the big neon marquee at the Ritz Theatre,” he said, “and a neon sign at The Eagles, the Tiffin Drive-In sign on State Route 53, and the Marinis Candy sign, were my inspirations,” he said.
Neon, more properly named luminous tube, has been Flechtner’s medium of expression for nearly three decades. Neon is actually plasma, where light is produced by the introduction of high voltage, but the rare gases used are not consumed by the process.
He is ever mindful of the compelling nature of this pure, colored, glowing light. “The common connection of this phenomenon,” he says, “goes back to sitting around a fire, for warmth, protection, reflection and cooking food! Who doesn’t like sitting around a campfire to watch the pattern of flames?”
Flechtner was born and raised in Tiffin. He graduated from Columbian High School in 1970. He has a MFA in sculpture and painting and learned how to fabricate neon tubes after graduate school.
“I am amazed at the changes on Miami Street since leaving Tiffin,” he said. “I remember playing and exploring in the scrap yard where Heminger Center now stands. I remember taking broken TV circuitry and other early electronics home because I was fascinated with all the components soldered into them. I spent many hours every weekend at the scrap yard and digging through all the worn out stuff people had thrown away.”
Flechtner finds it ironic that his early experiences in the scrap yard led to his return decades later with something he had created with his own hands for the “new tenants” of that plot of land.