Var West Gallery is currently showing the traveling group exhibition She Bends: Women in Neon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Curated by artist and neon bender Meryl Pataky, She Bends: Women in Neon, is an exhibition of female identifying neon benders from around the globe. With an emphasis on craft, artistry and the hand-made, these artists work start to finish with neon to bring their concepts to life. The revolutionary show has since shown in numerous cities around the US. Along with being a traveling exhibition, the show provides workshops and mentorship to promising artists looking to take up the craft.

"Bringing “She Bends” to Milwaukee was very important to me the second I got wind of its reception at the Midway Gallery in San Francisco. The content and message immediately had my interest so I reached out to Meryl Pataky, the show's curator, and asked her how can we get this exhibition to the midwest. This conversation needs to continue to happen in all industries and what Meryl and the rest of these amazing woman sculptors have done in the neon world will surely help shed more light on it.” -Owner of Var, VarWest and Hawthorn Contemporary - Josh Hintz

This is Var Wests biggest show yet in both numbers (22 artists) and prestige. She Bends is bringing several pioneers in both the trade and visual arts forefront including Meryl Pataky herself.
Exhibiting artists go as follows: Eve Hoyt, Danielle James, Brooke Barttelbort, Sarah Blood, Dani Bonnet, Eve De Haan, Robin Clason, Teresa Escobar, Ali Feeney, Koko Jamison, Stephanie Sara Lifshutz, Leticia Maldonado, Amy Palms, Harriet Schwarzrock, Andrea Oleniczak, Lily Reeves, Kacie Lees, Meryl Pataky, Megan Stelljes, Olivia Steele, Marjorie Inman, Linda Sue Price

The artist exhibiting address a variety of topics from social constructs, language to current events. Glass tubes of pulsating electricity will be bent into abstract shapes, written phrases, or woven through a sculptural installation. Each bender transcends the tradition of the commercial neon sign while masterfully maintaining the delicate craft and science of neon, an art that dates back to the 1850s. The women of She Bends bring a resurgence to the medium while claiming a space for themselves and others in the trajectory and rich history of neon art.

"I wanted to make it about females in a male-dominated industry making work themselves,” Meryl states, “I don’t want to see people who appropriate the medium because it’s trendy. I want women who bend, who actually work with this medium with their own two hands aside from just designing it. There’s so much more to neon that just design." 

Meryl Pataky’s is an Oakland-based sculptor, and curator of SHE BENDS, whose own multidisciplinary approach combines neon with a variety of unexpected materials in a style described as “dystopian” and “anti-neon”. Meryl is originally from South Florida and moved to San Francisco in 2002 to attend the Academy of Art University. She fell in love with the tactile nature of sculpture and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture.