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LIGHTING UP THE NIGHT!

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by Sarah-Beth White

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Get ready for a visual feast! From this month, through December, there will be a bursting kaleidoscope of light pulsating on the East River — artist Leo Villareal’s attempt to challenge New Yorkers with his vivid installation, Star, the premiere exhibit for this season’s Winter Light at Socrates Sculpture Park. “It is an abstract work that will suggest many things — constantly changing and evolving,” says Villareal. “My hope is to evoke a sense of curiosity.” The 18-foot diameter Star will contain 24 spokes of throbbing light, illuminating the Queens skyline with its animated play of spatial and temporal highlights. Socrates Sculpture Park, perched on the edge of the waterfront in Long Island City, has long served as an outdoor gallery for an eclectic mix of contemporary sculpture. “Winter Lights is an excellent opportunity for artists to extend their presence in the park and increase winter visitorship," explains Lisa Gold, director of development and communications. "This new medium will enable people to view sculpture in a different way.” The brainchild of Socrates executive director Alyson Baker, Winter Lights has been in the development stage for nearly two years. The series of light-based sculptures will be visible from the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island and the FDR Drive. In addition to Villareal’s Star, international artist, Matthew McCaslin will unveil his project for Winter Lights in January 2004. McCaslin is a graduate of Parsons School of Design and has had solo exhibits in Los Angeles, Madrid, Buenos Aires and Paris. Several other current sculptures on display will be able to be viewed at night. Lilah Freedland’s Glow H.O.G. is a phosphorescent glow-in-the-dark 7-foot pillar modeled on a Corinthian column at The Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a central intersection between the Via Dolorosa, the Dome of the Rock and Kotel. And evening lights will cast an eerie shadow on the charred external walls holding Corin Hewitt’s Tarbell’s I. This giant skewed visual of his grandmother’s kitschy turquoise-and-gold kitchen appears to have been catapulted onto its tilted stance by some sort of bizarre natural disaster. Star will lead off the winter roundup of Socrates Park events in December. Villareal, a current New York resident who grew up in Mexico and Texas, studied art at Yale and technology at N.Y.U.’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. He successfully integrates the two media to create innovative light-based sculptures. Long fascinated with the aesthetic patterns of natural objects, Villareal attempts to recreate this visual manifestation through his use of lights, programs and numbers. “I’m boiling things down to their essence,” he says. “My artwork reflects the innate construction of organic objects through the use of technology-based, synthetic processes that illustrate these natural patterns.” At times Star will appear to be a vivid exploding flower; at other times it may resemble fireworks. Perhaps it will be a surreal swirl of color that transforms into a blend of subtle hues in an instant. Programmed for infinite variations, Star will be something different each time you view it. “It’s the opposite of advertisements," Villareal says. “I’m presenting an image that you are drawn to — that you can’t take your eyes away from — but without a message.” He is leaving it up to the individual viewer to do the interpretations.

Info: Where: Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., LIC When: The Park is open 10am to sunset, 365 days a year How much: Admission is free For more info: (718) 956-1819; www.socratessculpturepark.org


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