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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)