Le Flash co-founders harbor grand ambitions

The historic district southeast of the Georgia World Congress Center will host more than 60 projects by local and national artists.

You will basically see something every few steps — a video projection, a puppet show, a candy necklace glowing in the dark, performances — using every conceivable form of light, from neon to fire to molten metal.

And there’s plenty to see, even if you stand still. Dancers will weave through the neighborhood, along with zombies, a “Luminous Cat” and a creatively illuminated bicycle procession.

It’s all free, including the all-night Le Flash Dance Party, a fashion show and hourly artists’ talks.

Debuted last year, the one-night art event has grown exponentially in size and sophistication, thanks in large part to a $40,000 gift from an anonymous patron.

In another vote of confidence, Atlanta Celebrates Photography, the annual photo fest, has made Le Flash its opening event. ACP has also provided money for a few of the projects.

“We loved the spirit of last year’s event,” said Michael David Murphy, ACP program manager. “It had the vibe, the electricity of a street party.”

And there’s potential to become an important cultural catalyst. Said ACP board president Louis Corrigan: “Le Flash shows promise not just as a celebration of lens-based work but as a broad-based celebration of Atlanta’s artists in general and of the creative energy in our arts community.”

The funding and the affiliation have enabled founders Cathy Byrd and Stuart Keeler to take the contents up several notches.

“We’ve been able to focus on curating because we’re not out begging for money,” said Byrd, who was the Georgia State University art gallery director before moving to Baltimore to run the Maryland Art Place.

Mentoring greenhorn public artists was also time-consuming last year.

Now those artists know the ropes; and the success of the inaugural Le Flash, not to mention possible grant money, has attracted more experienced artists as well.

Artist Stuart Keeler said he was inspired by La Nuit Blanche, an all-night event in Paris that is now emulated all over the globe.

A Castleberry Hill resident, he chose his neighborhood because of its character.

“It’s an organic urban setting, with old buildings and lots of dark corners and alleyways,” he said.

The Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association and the developers and retailers there have been extremely helpful and open to Le Flash inhabiting rooftops, interiors and those dark corners. But the co-curators’ ambitions for Le Flash extend beyond one neighborhood.

Byrd and Keeler see their event as a demonstration project.

“We’d love other people to take it into their own neighborhoods,” he said. “We’d like it to be citywide.”

Ultimately, they want to show Atlanta how exciting a culturally adventurous city can be.

Catherine Fox blogs about art and architecture at www.ArtscriticATL.com .

Event preview

Le Flash Atlanta

Dusk to midnight tonight in the Castleberry Hill Historic District. Free.

Transportation: A shuttle leaves every 10 minutes from Garnett MARTA Station (Trinity Street side) between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. Parking is available in lots at the corner of Trinity Avenue and Spring Street.

Maps will be available on the bus and at the event, or you can download one at www.leflash-atlanta.com .