At a Wednesday media event announcing the forthcoming 2018 Luminaria Contemporary Arts Festival on Nov. 10-11, poets Glo Armmer and Eddie Vega listed various nicknames different people use to describe their hometown – San Antone, SA, San Anto, Sainttown.

Luminaria is intended for San Antonians of all descriptions and sensibilities, festival Director Kathy Armstrong said, and its diverse lineup of artists reflects that sentiment.

To celebrate a Tricentennial year that has highlighted the city’s diversity, Luminaria will expand its offerings, its footprint, and its hours. Traditionally a one-night event, the festival will add activities all day Sunday and include a performance at Mission San José.

Of the more than 50 individual artist and artist groups involved in this year’s festival, 75 percent are from San Antonio, Armstrong said.

Armmer and Vega are members of The Hemisfair Plaza Poets, an ad hoc group assembled by DaRell Pittman specifically for Luminaria. Its lineup of six poets from various walks of life reflects the range of artists involved in the festival overall, Pittman said.

Artists involved with the 2018 Luminaria contemporary arts festival gathered for a media event at Hemisfair on Wednesday night.
Artists involved with the 2018 Luminaria contemporary arts festival gather for a media event at Hemisfair on Wednesday night. Credit: Nicholas Frank / San Antonio Report

Among them are sculptors Hilal Lalo Hibri and Laura D. Schultz, performance artists Anna De Luna and Mr. Composition, dance by Arte y Pasión, live tattooing by David Alcantar, films by Albert Alvarez and SAFilm, readings by Nan Cuba and Xelena González, and musicians from multiple genres, from jazz musician Aaron Prado to hip hop group Cadillac Muzik.

Many other local artists are involved, as are artists and musicians from Austin, El Paso, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Jersey, and Mexico.

Based on the success of last year’s festival, which drew about 20,000 people, Hemisfair and Luminaria are “a perfect fit,” Hemisfair CEO Andres Andujar said.

In addition to the traditional Saturday night programming, the daylight hours of Sunday, Nov. 11, will feature a new artist market so attendees can take home artist-made products and artwork, Armstrong said. Artist-run workshops and demonstrations will run from noon to 3 p.m., teaching DJing and hip hop dance techniques, flamenco dancing, paper-cutting, and glass-making with artist team Adam Smolensky and Justin Parr.

On Saturday night, Smolensky and Parr will team up to make 300 “glow-sticks,” actually 5-foot glass tubes filled with “chemoluminescent” liquid, to be installed on the small island in the stretch of the San Antonio river that runs into the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center grounds.

Luminescence is a common theme among artists invited to contribute work to the festival, who eagerly accept the challenge to show their work at night, at locations throughout the Hemisfair grounds.

Sound is also an important component of the festival, with music and performance at four stages on the grounds, and a new venue. Sunday evening, Luminaria will occupy Mission San José for a special Tricentennial-year closing program.

Modern classical music ensemble Agarita will stage a 5 p.m. performance for 120 attendees inside the mission’s granary, which will provide an ideal setting, according to violist Marisa Bushman.

“It’s actually acoustically perfect,” Bushman said, and violinist Daniel Anastasio agreed, citing its ancient limestone walls and natural resonance.

For those unable to squeeze into the small granary room, the performance will be simulcast on screens outside for those who want to relax on the lawn and take in a program of music by Bresnick, Poncé, Shaw, and Bolcom, Bushman said. Each piece was chosen for its thematic relationship to historical memory, cultural interweaving, and the passage of time, Anastasio said.

This year, Luminaria will also welcome attendees from the inaugural CityFest, an ideas festival initiated by the Rivard Report on the model of TribFest in Austin and the Aspen Ideas Festival. After a full day of CityFest programming on Saturday, Nov. 10, at Southwest School of Art, attendees will travel to Hemisfair to take in the sights and sounds of the city’s only contemporary arts festival.

Luminaria runs from 7 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Nov. 10, with maps available to lead festival goers throughout the grounds. VIA Metropolitan Transit will extend bus service on VIVA Culture route 11 and VIVA Centro route 301 until 12:30 a.m. to accommodate festivalgoers. The Lyft rideshare service is also offering a special 25-percent discount on two rides, using promo code LUMINARIA18.

The festival is free and open to the public. More information on artists and scheduled programming is available here for Saturday night, here for Sunday, and here for VIP events.

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Nicholas Frank

Senior Reporter Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with...