Despite chilly weather, hundreds of people convened Thursday on the Eastside’s Hays Street Bridge amid multi-colored lights, artwork, aerial acrobats, and poets for the beginning of Luminaria, San Antonio’s contemporary multi-arts festival.

The celebrations will continue Friday with an arts festival at the Carver Community Cultural Center and Dignowity and Lockwood Parks and Saturday with community arts events, artist brunches, and workshops.

Luminaria featured gravity-defying, illuminating, and all-inspiring works of art at the upper level of the bridge, where families and attendees of all ages got to witness the Hays Bridge Poets – made up of Anthony Flores, Don Mathis, Christopher Martinez, and Darrell Pittman– perform and enunciate words of hope, wisdom, passion, and sorrow. All up and down the bridge people could find an artist, lights, or installations to observe or interact with.

With the night sky serving as a backdrop, aerial performers Donnesh Amrollah and Joshua Grohman from Aerial Horizon wound through rings and ropes hung from the beams of the Hays Street Bridge, while adults and children sat or stood below, attentively watching the amazing feat before their eyes.

“It was a wonderful performance and it’s a great venue for people to recognize the local engineering talent and architecture,” said Javier Cantú, as he reflected on the aerial dancers and Luminaria’s venue. “… And local arts, that’s the best part – you get to see your community perform in a permanent structure.”

At the bottom of the bridge, attendees viewed artwork by Los Dos, an artist duo made up of Ramon and Christian Cardenas, while others sipped on beverages and ate tacos or shaved ice from food trucks near the entrance of the bridge on Alamo Street.

“I love the bridge” said San Antonian Jizella San Andres. “I’m an engineer, so I like that.”

Atop the bridge, children danced or stood in front of a green screen set up by Calico Club to see their images transformed to include a backdrop of multicolored lights on an adjacent screen. In another part of the venue, State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-123) and Ernest Gonzalez, both acting in their unofficial capacity of DJs for the night, jammed out and provided musical beats for all passersby to hear.

One installation that stood out for many, was Kara Salinas’ “Tentstallation,” a large-scale display of colorful nylon tents hung all around the middle part of the Hays Street Bridge. Salinas has an architectural background and is an educator who holds a masters in education. She told the Rivard Report that she enjoys artistic installations that are interactive and promote peacemaking. Her installation for Luminaria was meant to represent temporary shelter for all those refugees around the world, with a message of linking communities rather than separating them.

“It had to be a tent shape because of the idea that these communities that have to shift so often,” Salinas said. “These refugee camps are absolutely horrible but you can just see that there is some sense of family life that is still occurring – so this idea that hope is still there.”

Salinas said she got the idea for the project after hearing Donald Trump’s hateful words about building walls.

“I (wanted) to have it at the midpoint of the bridge because I wanted to show that you may come through the darkness of a journey, but hope will prevail,” she added.

Other artists sharing their artworks and installations included ARCOS, David Hale, Joan Frederick, Brett Elmendorf (r26D), and Margaret Craig.

To learn more about Luminaria, click here.

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Rocío Guenther

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...