Neon Artist Visits Montana Western

Jacob Fishman, a visiting neon artist, presented a public artist’s lecture on Thursday, Jan. 24, in the Mary Baker Emerick Art Annex Lecture Room at Montana Western. While in Dillon, Mont., Fishman had the opportunity to work with UMW students in class Jan. 22-25.

Jake Fishman- in article

Fishman explained during his visiting artist lecture how, when heated, glass can become malleable.

Fishman started out as a photographer and was introduced to the art of neon by taking pictures of signs. He became fascinated by the process behind creating neon so he began working as an apprentice at a neon sign shop.

After perfecting his trade, Fishman opened his own studio, Lightwriters Neon, in 1977. During this time, restaurants were looking for ways to make their establishments trendier by implementing neon. Because commercial glass blowers were interested in large marquee signs, Fishman and his friends found opportunity for work by creating smaller neon signs.

“During that time there was only about 200 glass blowers in the nation. We were busy with all the work that was falling through the cracks,” Fishman explained.

Currently Fishman focuses on commissioned artwork and has taken a step back from commercial projects. During the presentation, Fishman showed examples of his work, including a self-portrait drawn by his daughter, Molly. Fishman brought her youthful piece to life through neon art.

“I like making signs that don’t really mean anything. I just love to go out to my studio and work with glass. It is so relaxing,” stated Fishman.
Jake Fishman 2- in article

Fishman demonstrated the processes behind his glass blowing and neon techniques.

After the lecture, Fishman went out into the glassblowing shop in the Emerick Art Studio to demonstrate his skills. While using Montana Western’s state of the art equipment, Fishman heated up a tube of glass and bent it into a series of loops, all while explaining the processes behind his technique.

For more information about Montana Western’s visiting artist program, please contact Michael Hengler by calling 406-683-7344 or email michael.hengler@umwestern.edu.

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