San Antonio's Luminaria.
Light as art. (All Luminaria photos courtesy of Luminaria)

Luminaria 2014 is here!

For more than 300 years, San Antonio has been an important intersection of cultures. This weekend, crowds of locals and visitors will gather to celebrate San Antonio as a creative destination to be proud of. Now in its seventh year, Luminaria 2014 returns with a theme of “Between North & South,” an inspiring mix of local and international talent.

“We’re reaching out to the rest of the world so that all San Antonio artists have a way to connect to a global audience,” said Luminaria board member Ansen Seale, also an artist and photographer. “The idea is for the world to come knocking on our door.”

Date Farmers' 2011 installation for the Wynwood Walls project in  Miami. Courtesy photo.
Date Farmers’ 2011 installation for the Wynwood Walls project in Miami. Courtesy photo.

Just a few highlights of this year’s arts festival: an innovative art and fashion runway show by Argentinian artist Daniel González, a several-stories-tall video projected onto the exterior of the Main Library by Guy Hundere, site-specific wall murals by internationally world-renowned street artists Dr. Lakra, Basco Vazko and the Date Farmers, and live music by Grammy-winners La Santa Cecilia, San Antonio’s own Girl in a Coma, DJ Luminox, and the legendary Texas Tornados.

New Developments: What, Where and When:

For the first time, Luminaria takes over two nights in 2014. The festival will light up this Friday and Saturday nights, Nov. 7 and 8, from 6 p.m. to midnight.

Luminaria has also shifted from March into November, which boasts cooler weather, the month-long traditional celebrations of Día de los Muertos, and the kickoff to a busy downtown holiday season.

The footprint for Luminaria 2014 takes place in the River North section of downtown, which includes the new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, the Southwest School of Art, the Tropicana and Havana Hotels, the San Antonio Central Library, and the Museum Reach section of the River Walk.

A map of events and installations for Luminaria 2014.
A map of events and installations for Luminaria 2014. Click here for larger, interactive map.

Local food trucks will provide a delicious and diverse selection of South Texas food culture. Click here for parking information including details about VIA Park and Ride.

Three physical zones of art installation welcome visitors this year; the street-level performers, bands, sculptures and installations, the murals and video projections on building facades, and video and sound art below on the Riverwalk, promising intriguing surprises around every corner and an immersive viewer experience. Social media photo opportunities will abound.

Luminaria 2014 is, as always, free and open to the public. Click here for a map of street and garage parking.

Exciting creative partners for Luminaria 2014 include the City of San Antonio’s Department for Culture and Creative Development (DCCD), the Southwest School of Art, the San Antonio Public Library, the Western Arts Alliance, whose annual conference is taking place in San Antonio for the first time, and the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum.

A member of Aerial Horizon performs during Luminaria 2013. Photo by Alex Richter.
A member of Aerial Horizon performs during Luminaria 2013. Photo by Alex Richter.

Featured Artists and Performers:

Musical Acts including:
The Texas Tornados
Girl in a Coma
La Santa Cecilia
Juan Wauters
Augie Myers
DJ Luminox
DJ El sueño de la casa propia
and more

"Pedro Infante" by Dr. Lakra
“Pedro Infante” by Dr. Lakra.

Visiting visual artists including:
Basco Vazko (Chile)
Dr. Lakra (Mexico)
Wilfredo Prieto (Cuba)
Daniel González (Argentina)
Alejandro Guzman (Puerto Rico)
Redell & Jimenez (Los Angeles and New York)
The Date Farmers (Los Angeles)
and more

Local visual arts including:
Anne Wallace
Mr. Piñata (Avi Avalos)
Karen Mahaffy
Guy Hundere
Victor and Sarah Pagona
Monte Man (Jimmy James Canales)
Cruz Ortiz
and more

Curators and their Missions

For Luminaria 2014, the curation has moved away from an open call and towards a smaller, more focused curation with an eye towards inviting innovative artists from around the world to engage with local San Antonio artists.

“To do that, we have to think outside of our own circles,” Seale said. “What we are trying to do is to make the pie bigger for everyone, not give everyone a smaller piece. Many other cities around the world (with much less going for them than San Antonio) have made this model work for them. Manchester and Toronto are two examples.”

“Luminaria will be syncing with the Western Arts Alliance and its 2014 conference theme, ‘The Emerging Latino Majority,’” said Noah Khoshbin, Luminaria’s artistic director and curator of national and international visiting artists. “To that end, local, national and international Latin American artists, performers, and musicians will be programmed to highlight that there is not one definition of Latin America, showing by example how San Antonio is a crossroads reflecting those diverse cultures and histories.”

Ethel Shipton, Luminaria’s executive producer and the curator of San Antonio art for this year’s festival, describes her curatorial decision-making: “The thought behind curating the local artists was to look back at artists who have been part of Luminaria in past years, taking into consideration which artworks would work best in the 2014 footprint, while expressing a cross-section of the talent San Antonio has to offer.”

This year’s artists represent the huge diversity of the Latin world in both hemispheres, from South Texas, Mexico City, Puerto Rico, Chile, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Spain, and Brazil, uniting San Antonio with a wider, inter-connected world of tradition and creativity.

The large Olmec head in front of the Instituto Cultural de México drew one of the largest crowds during Luminaria 2013. Photo by Alex Richter.
The large Olmec head in front of the Instituto Cultural de México drew one of the largest crowds during Luminaria 2013. Photo by Alex Richter.

A New Direction: Focus on the Five-Year Plan

Luminaria 2014 marks the first year in a five-year strategic plan conceived by the Board of Directors, city arts officials, and creative stakeholders.

“The vision for Luminaria has been the same since inception: Deliver an art festival of international stature, that will bring wide attention to San Antonio’s people, places and culture.” said Liz Tullis.

Tullis is Luminaria Board President, and a senior vice president in Strategic Planning at Bank of America, Luminaria’s first presenting sponsor. Her focus in completing the five-year-plan is “to take Luminaria to the next level. The plan helps us think beyond the framework of event-to-event.”

Why is that important? 

“This infrastructure gives a stronger voice, and allows us to address the questions of when, where, how long, how in a coordinated, thoughtful manner.  It also helps us think of new, innovative ways to fund the event to keep it free and open to the public,” Tullis said.

In terms of the festival’s future, she said, “our aim is to grow Luminaria, to attract interest and new money to San Antonio by broadening the stage and keeping it fresh.

“2014 is a transitional year,” she added, “and in some respects it is much like the first year – there’s lots anticipation a bit of anxiety as we adjust to the changes. But as we know, without change we have stagnation. And we have a dedicated and passionate team who is committed to building on the success of Luminaria past and laying the platform for the future.”

Follow Luminaria 2014 online and on social media:

*Featured/top image: Light as art during Luminaria 2012. Photo courtesy of Luminaria.

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Felix N. Padrón

Felix N Padrón is an artist and arts management professional with over 25 years of experience. He is the former Executive Director of the City of San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture; and maintains...