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Meryl Pataky is a mixed media artist based in San Francisco. One of her main disciplines is neon art. When I have a limited amount of time in a city, I ask my wife to research and find artists to reach out to, and she always comes up with intersesting people. Meryl is no exception. She epitomizes the joy of discovering interesting creatives in amazing spaces. Something that dawned on me while shooting Meryl is how climate can be a massive variable on spaces. San Francisco is a very temperate climate, and I often don’t see artists working out of old factory shells, but in this case, it was perfect for glass blowing. The process of making neon is part creative and part scientific and part grit. My only regret is that I didn’t shoot a video of her making the work. I’ll have to go back to do this some day.

What is something that I would be surprised to find in your space?
Jars of preserved and tattooed chicken feet. I have to just leave it at that.

Describe your ideal workspace in three words.
Open, lit and organized.

Does the space you work in have an interesting story?
Yes, it is the old Hamms Brewery storehouse from the 30's and 40's.  Old SF industry, with the biggest neon sign west of Chicago before Vegas! Nobody knows what happened to that sign. 
What are you most proud of in the space?
The fact that I create neon signs in it, and in conjunction with the history of the space and the sign story. It's a cool neon urban myth and I make neon there. Seems sort of fated.

How would you describe your neighborhood?
Surprisingly busy these days. Sort of nervous about it that because we are an artist run warehouse in a rapidly changing area. It used to be tent city by my studio. There was never any traffic. Now, there's traffic all backed up on Bryant street with people heading towards the freeway to get home and....people walking? It's changed more in the last year than in the last 15 I have been there. The only thing keeping us there in this former industrial neighborhood is the fact that there is a moratorium on any sort of demolition on the building, so I've heard.  There is some sort of historical protection on it.

Favourite song/band while working?
Pixies is the favorite always.

What's the best advice you've been given and from whom?
Behave as if everything in the room is hot.

Photographed by Paul Barbera Text Queenie Chan

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