Big crowds, loud music and vibrant works of art were just some of the many features of Luminaria, San Antonio’s annual contemporary arts festival. However, the overflow of rain kept the water pouring and the festival’s activities and attendance to a trickle.
Luminaria was scheduled for Friday, Oct. 23 and Saturday, Oct. 24 from 7p.m. to midnight. Unfortunately, quite a few artists were unable to participate due to inclement weather on Friday, and Luminaria was flat-out canceled on Saturday.
The event was not a complete loss, though. The wet ground’s reflective surface even enhanced the effects of the illuminated works. The event stretched across the River North neighborhood along West Jones Avenue, from Dallas Street to Broadway Street. The crowds accumulated around the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) and the music stage, which was located across from Rosella Coffee Company.
SAMA’s façade was dancing with streams of bold LED lights by South Korean artist Siyon Jin. The array of colors deemed “Flow & New Forms” was commissioned for Luminaria through the International Relations Office of San Antonio and was a focal point of this year’s event.
SAMA’s doors remained open for the festivities, and its gallery walls sheltered some of the performances and pieces that were initially supposed to occur outside, even if they had to hand out comical little cards that read, “Any person suspected of having rain on their person will be asked to leave.”
The auditorium featured performances throughout the night as crowds squeezed in to see the works. It was here that the second part of Siyon Jin’s work was presented. Jin filmed two dancers affixed with LED lights as they performed, and the light patterns the dancers created were the colorful array of lights projected onto SAMA’s façade.
Also in the auditorium, experimental film creator Ronnie Cramer debuted an animated film titled “SA” that toured viewers through San Antonio by means of four thousand watercolor paintings.
Under the pavilion behind SAMA, artist Ari Gold presented his interactive video piece “I Love You, Keep Going.” Surreal and sometimes-horrific natural landscapes were projected onto a white screen. Behind the screen, two stationary bikes waited for viewers to jump on and enliven the scenes with their silhouettes. Some people passively pedaled the bikes while others were much more animated. Their playful excitement created an odd juxtaposition at times, especially when the scene flashed more dramatic images, such as forest fires.
Spare Parts, an organization that supplies reused and creative art materials to schools in Texas, also gave attendees the opportunity to participate in the art-filled night. Setting up shop in a crossfit studio, Spare Parts hung large hammock-like tarps from the ceiling and spread an assortment of reused canvases all over the ground. Participants laid belly down in the tarps and slung paint across the canvases with a variety of odd tools as members of Spare Parts moved them around. These displays, reminiscent of Jackson Pollock, drew a decent crowd, and the time slots for participants quickly filled.
Some lucky muralists were able to beat the weather and showcase their massive works on Friday night. Stencil artist SCOTCH! created a mural, titled “Camera Guys,” on one of the many vacant walls of Avenue B. People gathered around to admire the creative use of color and line, depicting three diverse cameramen in action.
The weather left only Stage 2 open for musicians, but the artists’ acts definitely kept the night lively. Alyson Alonzo’s soulful voice, accompanied by her synthesizer, filled the tent early in the night. Her unique and creative sound recently earned her Critic’s Pick at the 2015 San Antonio Music Awards. Another band native to San Antonio, Femina X, roused the crowd with their electronic dance pop. Lead singer Daniela Riojas wore a lavish gown of colorful fabrics blown into a playful dance as she sang.
Lumianaria 2015 wasn’t the extravagantly-packed two-day event that San Antonio has come to expect, but perhaps, the rain’s presence helped spread the wealth. Luminaria’s website explains, “There will be further arts events to showcase the work of the extraordinary artists in our lineup.” Left with a nice taste, San Antonio will have to anxiously await a second helping.