‘Neon and Nostalgia’ lights up as first University Union Gallery exhibition of 2020

Photographer René Domingo showcases Sacramento’s vintage attractions


Piper Haitsuka

First-year Sac State student Alex Sengbounouvong discusses René Domingo’s photographs with another visitor at the opening reception of her “Neon and Nostalgia” exhibit Thursday. The exhibit will last until Feb. 13.

Piper Haitsuka and Tara Gnewikow

The University Union Gallery at Sacramento State held the opening reception for “Neon and Nostalgia” by photographer René Domingo on Thursday.   

The exhibition is the first one of the spring semester and will be available until Feb. 13. It features photographs of neon signs taken primarily throughout the greater Sacramento region. 

Domingo showcases well-known places in Downtown Sacramento such as Gunther’s Ice Cream and the Tower Theatre. She also included photos taken in Oregon and St. Petersburg, Florida.

Starting with street photography, Domingo decided to narrow her focus to neon signs. 

Piper Haitsuka
René Domingo’s photographs feature retro signs on a bowling alley and outside the American Ice Company established 1923 in Sacramento. The exhibition will be open until Feb. 13.

“I didn’t really piece it together as a project until I was looking around noticing communities that you could tell how it must have looked in the ‘40s or ‘50s,” Domingo said. This exhibition took her around a year to complete. 

Domingo said she enjoyed searching for new locations to shoot and that she specifically kept an eye out for anything vintage or neon.  

“Whether I’ve done my research in advance or literally stumble upon an old motel or diner, I’m always eager and ready to explore,”  Domingo said.  

Sac State student Naz Tehrani described the uniqueness of the exhibit.

“I’ve never seen pictures captured like this before,” Tehrani said. “Just the color I guess, it’s not something I would normally go out of my way to see. Even though I live in Sacramento, this is probably my first time seeing all this.”

In the ‘80s, Domingo studied media broadcasting as a communications major and a journalism minor at Sac State. Before beginning her photography career, she worked as the senior corporate event director for the American Art Association in Sacramento. In 2008, when her son entered first grade, Domingo started taking photography classes at Cosumnes River College.

“It’s a lifelong process, I still go and periodically take a class,” Domingo said. “For me, staying up on technology and trends, the way that things are changing, it’s important to stay current.”

Domingo said she was in contact with Rebecca Voorhees, the Design, Identity and Studio Manager for the University Union, for about a year before they committed to have her exhibition shown spring 2020

“I thought that her Sacramento-based photography would draw some interest from Sac State and the surrounding community,” Voorhees said. “I loved the fact that she was ‘Made at Sac State’ and is involved with the Sacramento art scene.” 

University Union art exhibitions are free to enter.