What was it about Edward Hopper's “Nighthawks” painting anyway? Urban desolation reflecting human isolation? The loneliness of the modernist? The lack of good places to eat late?
Me, I see the great potential of the night. Anything at all could be out there beyond the neon perimeter, painted on the canvas of darkness — and city life, consequently, can be either a dream or a nightmare.
I like to think that my thoughts subconsciously inspired London architect Peter Culley to come up with this ghost house idea for the Sept. 5 InLight event. Whilst embroiled in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts expansion, Culley was inspired by the architecture of Jackson Ward to create a structure (rendered at right) that suggests the doors and windows of an imaginary house with a framework covered in phosphorescent paint. Black lights will selectively illuminate it and those features will seem to appear and disappear, even as the watcher walks through. A dream of light and darkness.
Imagine how much more of “Nighthawks” we would've seen if that diner had been built this way. Maybe that guy in the suit wasn't even wearing pants.
Here's the point: Nighttime is more exciting than it used to be, and Richmond, while still lacking competitive late-night dining, is finally getting a handle on the other side of day. And InLight, 1708 Gallery's 30th birthday present to itself, is an appropriate beginning to our arts season, with something like 40 artists creating sculptures, video pieces, tiny handheld installations, an illuminated sidewalk and so on to herald the electric colors of fall and the contracting daylight.
In the following pages are other uses of light — whether pointed in at a stage where Siamese twins bicker, pointed out from a stage where the Black Crowes bicker, captured by a box and spit out to look like Civil War ghosts, bounced back at you from Graham Caldwell's “Compound Eye” (above at Reynolds) or arranged in complex patterns to beam an image of George Clooney or a do-it-yourself alien into your brain — much as Culley was very likely inspired by my ruminations on “Nighthawks.”
So let us fill those streets this season and be not afraid of the dark — there's a house of the imagination somewhere out there to light our way.
Swiss Army Venue by Paulette Roberts-Pullen
Other Galleries, Other Shows by Paulette Roberts-Pullen
Dinner Is Served by Lea Marshall
Pair Bonding by David Timberline
The Law Is Luxurious by Edwin Slipek Jr.
Opening Doors by Edwin Slipek Jr.
Re-Shooting the War by Valley Haggard
Page Turners by Valley Haggard
The End of Summer (Blockbusters) by Wayne Melton
Prodigal Daughter by Hilary Langford