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Neon Light Artist Transforms Trash into Treasure with Vintage Appeal

Wheaton, IL neon artist, Bryan Grovak, has all the necessary skills to bring new light and life to discarded items such as this vintage bicycle hanging in the Indie Park Gallery in Warrenville, IL Scroll down to view more vintage-rehabbed light-ups...

Name: Bryan Grovak

Town: Wheaton, IL

Medium: Neon Lighting

You might describe Bryan’s work as electrifying. By adding lights, especially neon lights to discarded items he finds, he upcycles them back to life again for collectors and connoisseurs. From vintage car grills to old guitars, bicycles, signs, and more, Bryan eagerly enhances found objects electrically.

Having served in the U.S. Navy on an aircraft carrier, Bryan gained electrical skills as part of his job keeping the ship’s galley running smoothly. Once out of the service, he started a neon repair business that was soon on its way out of favor as LEDs began replacing neon for cost efficiency.

“I had to ask myself, ‘what do I do with all these neon tubes now?’ I couldn’t just pitch them.”

Bryan’s fascination for neon started early. At age 15, he begged his parents for a neon sign for his room and his passion grew from there.

Between his love of neon and guitars, the idea of combining the two seemed like a unique possibility as an artistic endeavor. From that inspiration, he soon expanded his neon touches to other found objects.

While cruising a salvage yard with more than 200 junk cars scattered across a huge field, Bryan spotted a 1969 Corvair that no one wanted to restore. It had sat there untouched for 40 years. The salvage yard owner gave him permission to carve it up.

Back home in his studio, designing wiring and circuitry so the headlights worked again turned into a complex project. And, it was in such a rusted-out condition, it took months to fix, buff, shine, and repaint. However, the finished product, now on display at the Indie Park Gallery in Warrenville, IL makes quite the statement. He even built a custom stand for it since its 100-lbs of steel is too heavy for the average wall.

At the gallery, Bryan’s other work includes a neon-outlined antique airplane propeller along with neon-encrusted musical instruments and other items.

“You know,” he says, “What’s nice about neon, is that it grabs attention and draws you in. I could probably put neon on just about anything.”

Currently, he’s restoring a 1960s-era Shell gas station pump enhancing it with neon and notes that even his house has a neon glow from the road.

“Yes, it uses more electricity that an LED but nothing else beats that glow.”

His work can be seen at the Indie Park Gallery, 28W577 Stafford Place in Warrenville, IL; or email him at for more information.

In his garage studio, Bryan restores the front grill of a vintage Pontiac Bonneville. He says, "Cars in those days were a work of art and I only add enough neon to enhance what's already there."

Bryan took the "sears" Tower neon tubes from a salvaged sign and added it to this vintage guitar for an authentic Chicago vibe.

In Bryan's studio, he adds neon lights to this salvaged bike. The finished piece is pictured above on the gallery wall.

Looking down at vintage car carcasses before he begins months of transformative work.

The finished vintage Corvair grill on its custom stand in the Indie Park Gallery in Warrenville, IL


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