- Monica Simoes
- Lite Brite Neon Studio's founder, Matt Dilling, with his partner, Erika DeVries
But now, in the midst of the current COVID-19 crisis, Dilling and his staff have found themselves having to bend in other ways as they adapt to, literally, keep the lights on. So far, those new ways have been working. Although the shift hasn’t been easy.
“We had 15 people working before the state [closure] order came down. We had to furlough 90 percent of our staff, which was a really hard move, emotionally,” says Dilling via phone. “Now we’re down to me and four others. They’re all working from home while the rest of the staff is off. We’ve been using Zoom to go over the projects we’re working on now, which is a totally new thing for us. Everything’s changing all the time, but we’re figuring it out as we go along. It’s like playing a piece of Fluxus music compared to playing a piece of well-composed orchestra music.”
Dilling founded Lite Brite in 1999 in a Brooklyn studio that eventually became the business’s showroom as it steadily added more staff artists. In 2017, Lite Brite moved its main operations base to a former furniture factory in Midtown Kingston, where the team produces everything from commercial and residential lighting fixtures to original art works and restores and creates commercial signage.
“The Brooklyn space has been totally closed since the outbreak started,” says Dilling, whose partner Erika DeVries has been homeschooling their three children since schools went into lockdown. “That was the first thing we did [to respond to the pandemic], because we didn’t want to put our Brooklyn employees at risk. Two weeks later, we shut down the shop here. So now we just have metalworkers Liam McDonald and Temple Kennedy are working at home; our shop tech Chris Colbaris building crates in his garage; glass bender Zach Velkoff set up with our mobile tube-bending rig at his place; and Frank Kmiec, one of our designers, working with AutoCAD at home on his laptop.”
- Somewhere, one of Lite Brite Neon's sculptures, currently in storage
- Matt Dilling
- Artist Andrea Bowers's plans for her new public work, We’ve Got to Give Them Hope, a memorial to actvisit and politician Harvey Milk
- Somos 11 Millones/We Are 11 Million by Andrea Bowers in collaboration with Movimiento Cosecha, at the High Line park in New York City