TU’s Diane Kidd Gallery of Art in the Hayes Center for the Arts, hosted a new exhibition of neon art, Prodigal Son, by Michael Flechtner as its first show of the 2013 academic year. According to Curator Lee Fearnside, “It was a show that gained a lot of local interest since Michael grew up in Tiffin and graduated from Columbian High School in 1970.”
“I was delighted to display some of my art in my beloved hometown where I declared in the 7th grade at West Jr. High School that I was an artist,” Flechtner said. “I continued to pursue that path through Tiffin Columbian with Miss Gladys Ohl, later earning a BFA in sculpture at Columbus College of Art & Design and a MFA in sculpture and painting Wichita State University.”
Flechtner’s first encounters with the neon medium were from growing up in Tiffin. “There was the big neon marquee at the Ritz Theatre, and a neon sign at The Eagles F.O.E., and of course, the Tiffin Drive-In on State Route 53, as well as the Marinis Candy sign which consisted of clear tubing pumped with pure neon gas,” he said.
Neon, more properly named luminous tube, has been Fechner’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?”