Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
TO JUNE 26
For years, Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, the man who bills himself as the most collected painter in America, has been churning out cloying, Christianity-infused images of cobblestone roads and cottages at twilight. Indeed, in 2001, an entire housing development modeled on Kinkade-style landscapes sprang up in California. But cower not, nonbelievers: We’ve got Leo Villareal, who sculpts light itself. The four Villareal pieces on display at Conner Contemporary Art (Horizon (8) is pictured) serve as a good introduction to the artist: Programmed LEDs inside long white tubes blink on and off in complex patterns; batches of colors arise, combine, diminish; new colors appear. JMW Turner’s sunsets are turned on their heads, and Las Vegas’ neon stridency is muted into a demure wall-hanging. Gaze into those lights long enough and you’ll see the inside of your skull. Too bad you won’t hear anything to accompany the exhibition: Years back, Villareal designed light shows for Moby and created an 8-foot cube called Soundbox, in which the body movements of participants lying in its pitch-black belly give rise to an array of sounds. Leaving Kinkade in the dust, Villareal strives to be worthy of James Joyce’s pronouncement: “[H]is veins shooting melanite phosphor, his creamtocustard cometshair and his asteroid knuckles, ribs and members. Ooridiminy!!!!!” The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, June 26, at Conner Contemporary Art, 1730 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 588-8750. (Bidisha Banerjee)