Two children walk in front of a mural near the Southwest School DJ Stage at Luminaria. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

From Nov. 9-12 poets, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, comedians, and other visual artists will invigorate the Eastside during this year’s Luminaria, a contemporary multi-arts festival that aims to create bridges between the community and the art world.

During the festival, regional and international artists will honor the historic Eastside, an area that is steeped in deep black history and cultural ties, and is undergoing sweeping development and transformation. With programming taking to neighborhood streets and community centers, the momentum for the festival has grown leaps and bounds in the months leading up to the event.

The international footprint in this year’s festivities includes artists from three San Antonio sister cities: Wuxi, China, Monterrey, Mexico, and Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

Created in 2008 by former Mayor and avid arts supporter Phil Hardberger, he and his team of volunteer organizers built the foundation for the event to recognize the creative community of San Antonio and beyond.

Luminaria Executive Director Kathy Armstrong stresses that Luminaria would not be possible without the array of talented artists.
Luminaria Executive Director Kathy Armstrong stresses that Luminaria would not be possible without the array of talented artists. Credit: Rocío Guenther / San Antonio Report

Luminaria’s unique location this year will serve to introduce different forms of art to people in the community and is only the beginning of more activation programming to come, Luminaria Executive Director Kathy Armstrong told the Rivard Report. 

On Wednesday night, several murals will be unveiled as gifts to the community on the Eastside. On Thursday the “epic night festival” will take to the streets and the Hays Street Bridge until midnight. Friday night Dignowity and Lockwood parks as well as the Carver Community Cultural Center will provide pop-up exhibitions, multi-media works, and diverse performances. The final day of Luminaria Saturday will host several community events, ticketed workshops, and artists brunches.

For a full list of Luminaria featured artists, click here.

Here is a map and schedule, courtesy of Luminaria (Click to enlarge):

Below is a guide to the four-day multi-arts festival:

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 6-8 p.m.

Mural Unveilings (Free)

The City of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture will unveil three large-scale outdoor murals in the Hays Street Bridge area to coincide with the Luminaria Contemporary Arts Festival. The murals are the first of several public art projects planned for the Eastside Promise Zone.

A closeup of the mural design on the Burleson Yard arches. Photo courtesy of Luminaria.
A closeup of the mural design on the Burleson Yard arches. Credit: Courtesy / Luminaria

National and international artists were invited to collaborate with local muralists and art students to create the murals and engage with the community through events and education initiatives.

Los Dos, an El Paso-based husband and wife artist team, used the U.S.-Mexico border as inspiration for its mural on Cherry Street under the Hays Street Bridge. Portuguese artist Daniel Eime will reveal his mural “Powder,” which will adorn the wall of a San Antonio Fire Department storage facility at the corner of Burnet and Cherry streets. Iker Muro, a native of San Antonio’s sister city Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands, will showcase his mural “Neon Drive” on the northeast portion of the Nolan Street underpass. Eime’s work combines stencil and photo-realist imagery while Muro’s work focuses on refracted light.

“The arts play an important role in enhancing the quality of life of any community, and that is especially true in San Antonio’s historic Eastside where the arts are an integral part of our history and fabric,” Councilman Alan Warrick (D2) stated in a news release. “As the Eastside continues to grow and transform, initiatives such the Eastside Public Art Residencies Program will be vital to that growth.”

The public art murals were commissioned by Public Art San Antonio (PASA) as part of the City’s adopted public art plan supported by the 2012 Bond Program. It is also supported by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town Grant Program.

Thursday, Nov. 10, 8-11 p.m.

Arts Festival at Hays Street Bridge (Free)

On the upper level of the Hays Street Bridge, attendees can enjoy new artworks by Aerial Horizon, ARCOS, Calico Club, David Hale, State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-123) and Ernest Gonzalez, Joan Frederick, Brett Elmendorf (r26D), Kara Salinas, Margaret Craig, and The Hays Bridge Poets.

A large group of guests arrived for the press event on the Hays Bridge. Photo by Scott Ball.
A large group of guests arrived for a press event on the Hays Bridge. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Friday, Nov. 11, 8 p.m.-midnight

Arts Festival at the Carver (Free)

The Carver Community Cultural Center – Luminaria’s anchor artistic partner – and the Idea Carver Academy will feature new artworks by Arte y Pasion, ArtX Non-Profits, Ballet San Antonio, Brandon Cunningham, ARCOS, Cuerpo Etéreo, David Hale, Diana Kersey and Kambri Hernandez, Dixon’s Violin, Garrett T. Caps and Phillip Luna, Gemini Ink, Joe Reyes and Paul Fauerso, Margaret Craig, Ray Santisteban, Renaissance Guild, Sarah Brooke Lyons, Saakred, San Antonio New Media Collective, Sujata Ventateswar and Greg Hinojosa, and The Three Artistas – made up of members Oscar Alvarado, Jesse Borrego, and Jacinto Guevara.

“Not only do we want to showcase arte and the light that it brings to communities, but we want to showcase the landscape of who we are as a city,” Borrego told the Rivard Report in September.

Other arts organizations on site at both locations include the San Antonio Museum of Art, Southwest School of Art, Artpace, ARTS San Antonio, Briscoe Western Art Museum, Blue Star Contemporary, Witte Museum, and Children’s Ballet of San Antonio.

Arts Festival at Dignowity and Lockwood Parks (Free)

Artists sharing their original works, explaining their passion, and expressing local and personal histories to attendees will activate Dignowity and Lockwood parks during Luminaria’s arts festival.

Artist Kaldric Dow is one of Luminaria's featured Eastside artists. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.
Artist Kaldric Dow is one of Luminaria’s featured Eastside artists. Credit: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / San Antonio Report

The programming will include new artworks by several artists who also will be featured at the Carver. In addition, Future Sailor, Joan Frederick, Kaldric Dow, Kerfuffle, Martinez Street Women’s Center with Sarah Brooke Lyons, Acts of Kindness, Mexican Step Grandfather, Public Space East, Fishermen, Rattletree, Rick Stemm, Sutton Oaks with Gary Schwartz, The Proximity of Being, San Antonio New Media Collective, and Verisimilitude will participate at both parks.

Saturday, Nov. 12, noon-4 p.m.

Community Arts Events (Free)

Downtown and Eastside neighborhoods will host an array of activities for people of all ages to explore the arts. The Healy-Murphy Center and the Ella Austin Community Center will feature student works at their respective locations, while Lockwood and Dignowity parks will introduce “Dig That Jazz on the Hill,” a Jazz and Blues concert organized by members of the Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association.

Maps will be available at the Luminaria information booth in Lockwood Park.

Artist Brunches (Ticketed)

Artists brunches with featured Luminaria artists will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Carver Community Cultural Center (226 N. Hackberry St.), The Spire (1174 E. Commerce St.), and Alamo City Studios (1113 E. Houston St.).

Here is a list of themes/topics and featured artists:

Arts & Technology: Erica Gionfriddo, Barbara Felix, Ray Santisteban, and John Ward – The Carver.

Eastside Stories: Kaldric Dow, Gary Schwartz, and Annele Spector – The Spire

Multi-Arts Collaborations: Jesse Borrego, Fishermen, and Joe Reyes – Alamo City Studios

Tickets are limited and cost $35 each. To buy tickets, click here.

Workshops (Ticketed)

The additional workshops during Luminaria, “are going to serve as an introduction and way for (attendees) to deepen (their) relationship with the arts,” Armstrong told the Rivard Report. “You can take programs in ceramics, photography, African drumming, and even martial arts.”

From 1-3 p.m., the Carver Community Cultural Center will host a contemporary dance workshop with Cuerpo Etéreo and a ceramics workshop with artists Diana Kersey and Kambri Hernandez.

The Healy-Murphy Center, located at 618 Live Oak St., will host a storytelling workshop with Kitty Williams and a photography and wheatpaste workshop with Arlene Mejorado. Both events are from 1-3 p.m.

An African marimba workshop with music group Rattletree will take place at  Lockwood Park from noon-2 p.m., and a martial arts workshop with Rick Stemm will occur from 2-4 p.m.

To buy tickets, which range from $10-$20, click here.

Closing Party (Ticketed)

Luminaria will host a closing party to celebrate the festival at the Healy-Murphy Center  from 8-10 p.m. Featured artists Fishermen will perform with saxophonist Spott Barnett and guest artists from San Antonio sister cities of Wuxi, China and Monterrey, Mexico will be present at the event.

Tickets, which costs $55, can be purchased here.


Those who wish to walk to the Luminaria festivities can do so from downtown via the Hays Street Bridge or along East Commerce Street. Luminaria will offer a Bike Valet Service with Pop Up Pedal Bike Valet. Stations will be set up at the Hays Street Bridge on Thursday, Nov. 10. and at the Carver Community Cultural Center and at Lockwood Park on Friday, Nov. 11.

Beginning at 6 p.m., VIA Metropolitan Transit will offer extended service on Friday, Nov. 11 on VIVA Centro (Route 301), which will loop around all the areas that include programming, Armstrong said. Service will continue until 30 minutes after the conclusion of the last event.

Regular VIA routes 22, 24, and 25 also will provide service areas near Luminaria venues. To learn more about routes and schedules, click here.

People driving to the festival can take advantage of free parking at the Alamodome (Lot C) from 8 p.m.-midnight. Armstrong said that parking lots along Austin Street under I-37 are also available but she encourages attendees to carpool or use rideshare services.

In response to weather concerns, Armstrong said, “Whatever comes our way should be light…. Having (Luminaria) unfold over several days is weather insurance – and there is no hurricanes forecast,” she added, referencing heavy downpours that cancelled much of Luminaria’s programming last year.

In addition, a large portion of the programming will happen indoors in the two theaters at the Carver, Armstrong said, and she’s excited to see how the artists will engage with the community.

Rocío Guenther has called San Antonio home for more than a decade. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, she bridges two countries, two cultures, and two languages. Rocío has demonstrated experience in...