It’s difficult to snag a cab from Conner Contemporary’s new space, but this can something to be grateful for—it gives you a reason to linger in front of the building and enjoy the gorgeous glow emitted by Leo Villareal’s works. Inside the gallery, an old auto body shop transformed into a massive exhibition space complete with multimedia room and outdoor courtyard, the New York artist’s works dot the walls of Conner’s first exhibition room like intellectual Lite Brite, with a grid of LED bulbs that emulates the light glinting off a jewel (Diamond Matrix) or the view through the barrel of a telescope of a world far away (Big Bang). Horizon (2) pays homage to Dan Flavin, with colors undulating through fluorescent bulbs that span the wall. Also at Conner is a selection of gallery artists’ recent works loosely concentrating on the body. Eric Sandberg’s colossal nude Vanity (Seven Deadly Sins) commands the room, and images from Mary Coble’s Blood Script Portfolio, a performance in which the artist etched slurs on her skin with a tattoo needle, complement it. Jeremy Kost’s Nick Adams (406 Hallway) bears too much of an unfortunate resemblance to an American Apparel underwear ad, while Mark Bennett’s Home of Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest) seems to have been created solely so that the artist could label a closet in the floor plan as “wire hangers.” Despite a few duds, though, everything at Conner looks shiny and new.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW FROM 11 A.M. TO 6 P.M. TUESDAY-SATURDAY AND NOON TO 5 P.M. SUNDAY TO NOV. 9 AT CONNER CONTEMPORARY ART, 1358-60 FLORIDA AVE. NE. FREE. (202) 588-8750.