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Transcendent Incandescence

“InLight” transforms the urban landscape.

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There's a twinkly patch of sidewalk along Broad Street where, every night, LED lights embedded in the concrete glow up from the chewing gum and cigarette butts. Solar panels on the roof of 1708 Gallery power the pavement lights in front of the building, a project installed last year for the gallery's 30th anniversary exhibition, “InLight.” This illuminating show returns Sept. 25, featuring work whose inspiration and execution are based on light.

The show includes a myriad of collaborating artists and organizations. The number of artist applications has doubled, in part because of the event's high-profile juror, Adelina Vlas, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The final roster will boast international contributors from Australia, Germany and Canada alongside the work of local artists.

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>Last year, InLight's installations all sprouted in the blocks immediately surrounding the gallery at Broad and Madison streets. In its sophomore year, “InLight” moves to the other end of the newly expanded arts corridor along Broad Street to the blocks immediately surrounding CenterStage. With two installations scheduled to project images onto the new building, it promises to be a wry collaboration that pairs one of the country's oldest artist-run galleries with a municipal arts center that's weathered criticism for keeping some artists out of the process.

The new location offers the opportunity for more majestic installations than last year, says Allison Andrews, a local conceptual artist and event co-chairwoman. “Basically we're taking urban landscape and making it the artist's canvas,” she says.  Richmond's home-team artists will offer up installations with an acute awareness of their relationship to the landscape and rich conceptual back stories.

For “Tomorrow Stood Just Outside the Circle from Where the Light Did Shine,” local artist Mike Dulin will hang several pairs of second-hand men's dress shoes from an artificial electrical line. The shoes will have windows sliced out of them so that a flickering light from LED wires shows through.

For Dulin, the installation combines an updated vision of homelessness — corporate executives who never thought they would have anything in common with the homeless suddenly brought low by the economic crisis they helped occasion — and the enduring sameness among us — that everyone has feet to protect, and you'll likely go homeless before you go shoeless.

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>Local poet Joshua Poteat will team with designer Roberto Ventura on an installation entitled “For Gabriel.” Poteat says he hopes their work will bring “attention to the unmarked slave cemetery that lies under a downtown VCU parking lot by honoring those interred there, including Gabriel, the man who led the failed Richmond slave rebellion in 1800 and who was executed and buried along with 26 other slaves.” In a vacant storefront on Grace Street, the duo plan to build a “temporary memorial” with 27 concrete columns and projections of historic and current images of the burial ground.

Not all of the installations deal with entrenched social problems. Oakland, Calif.-based video artist Ernest Jolly's “Bright, Red, Orange” will project a video-generated sunset down a building wall and into a pool of water, a fleeting time frame that suits the occasion. The 26 installations of “InLight” will be up only for one night, then gone in a flash.

“InLight” kicks off Sept. 25 (this is a correction from the print edition) at 7:45 p.m. with a community lantern parade and will feature the gallery's annual Wearable Art Show. For information visit www.1708gallery.org or call 643-1708.

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