Luminaria contemporary art festival celebrates local artists and the arts

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The 2022 Luminaria Contemporary Arts Festival, the largest free outdoor arts festival of its kind in South Texas, will host more than 200 individual artists on November 19, closing city streets from the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts at Travis Park.

Artists work solo and collaboratively to present live music, fine art, film, digital art, dance, poetry, and large-scale art installations.

Since its inception in 2008, Luminaria has produced San Antonio’s premier nighttime contemporary art festival, reaching over one million people. Luminaria’s programs support local artists, increase access to the arts for low-income residents, attract economic investment to communities, and energize downtown neighborhoods. It does all of this while providing families with free and accessible opportunities to engage with contemporary arts and local emerging and professional artists.

Luminaria is much more than a one-day festival. Organizers support artists throughout the year, offering contemporary arts programming throughout the year, culminating in the annual world-class festival that energizes San Antonio’s urban core and galvanizes multi-arts culture from the city.

Luminaria is committed to supporting artists and the arts, through good times and bad.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Luminaria launched the Corona Arts Relief grant for professional development during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ultimate goal of the grant was to address the impact of the pandemic lockdown, winter storm, and other ongoing economic hardship on individual artists living and working in Bexar County.

The Working Artist Fund pursues this mission through a semi-annual Professional Development Micro-Grant for Individual Artists that seeks to address economic barriers for artists living and working in the greater San Antonio area. The micro-grant provides an opportunity to advance an artistic career through professional development activities and to adapt one’s artistic practice post-pandemic. Up to $550 is awarded to each recipient to support their activities and artistic growth.

“The Working Artist Fund is an unrestricted micro-grant for professional and emerging artists of all disciplines,” said Keli Rosa Cabunoc Romero, grants manager for Luminaria and professional multidisciplinary artist.

“The fund has become a way to introduce and coach artists through a grantmaking process where the curatorial team and administrative staff don’t disqualify artists for small mistakes,” she said. “Instead, Luminaria hosts grant workshops where I answer questions, provide resume templates, provide sample artist statements, and a variety of important grant writing basics such as budgets, data and more.”

The number of artists who submitted applications for the Working Artist Fund last spring “is encouraging, as it demonstrates the community’s desire to create and work in San Antonio,” said Yadhira Lozano, executive director of Luminaria. “I hope this micro-grant will help artists focus on their work and think bigger. The more funding we give to artists, the more we will see and appreciate the spectacular, challenging and inspiring works.

Projects funded by working artists this year include theater performances, light installations, gallery exhibits, dance performances, spoken word, film screenings, music stages and more.

Artists go through an application process, submitting proposals for new works, expensive studios, and increased material costs. A curatorial committee made up of San Antonio artists and art experts made the difficult final selections. In 2023, the Working Artist Fund will have a new fundraising champion thanks to a collaboration with Hopscotch and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

In addition to supporting artists through grants, Luminaria hosted events across the city, including a staging of Mark McCoin’s “Robotic Resonance” at Wanderlust Ironworks Studio and a music event featuring Patricia Vonne, Los Callejeros de San Anto and Hotel Diplomats at the Lonesome Rose honky tonk. bar on the St. Mary’s Strip. Luminaria also installed two art galleries at Palo Alto College during its Latinx History Month celebrations.

The event that Luminaria is best known for, however, is its Contemporary Arts Festival, during which downtown San Antonio lights up for an all-night celebration of the arts.

This year’s featured artists include:

  • musicians Andria Rose, Nicky Diamonds, Chayito Champion, Tejano/Norteño Grupo Masizzo and emerging artist T’sean, 17;
  • a poetic showcase of poets from North Carolina, Florida and Virginia led by Eddie Vega;
  • fine art by LA Vatocosmico and Cassie Gnehm;
  • film by Alex Ramirez;
  • digital art by Yuliya Lanina and an interactive projection by Fraleigh & Miller;
  • large art installations by Charles Harrison Pompa and Wanderlust Ironworks; and
  • dance and drum performances by Urban-15.

In addition, UNAM San Antonio presents Murales en Movimiento by Abel Zuñiga and Teoría de Gravedad, a contemporary dance company from Monterrey, Mexico.

“Luminaria is one of San Antonio’s rich cultural assets, a true signature event for the city,” said Krystal Jones, director of the City of San Antonio’s Department of Arts and Culture. “It highlights our strong presence on the international art scene. Locals and visitors will have the opportunity to explore the city center and enjoy the light installations and live performances, created especially for the festival.

This year’s festival will host three stages, an art gallery, large-scale digital screenings and more at the Tobin Center’s Will Naylor Smith River Walk Plaza, Radius Center and Veterans Memorial Park. The festival will occupy Jefferson Street, from Auditorium Circle to Pecan Street.

Hopscotch, partner of Luminaria, an immersive art gallery, will extend its opening hours until midnight and offer the “Luminaria cocktail” at the bar, the proceeds of which will support the festival. After the event, Hopscotch will carry the drink year-round in support of the Working Artist Fund. Hemisfair partners UNAM San Antonio and the Mexican Cultural Institute will welcome Luminaria artists to their galleries after the festival.

“Our mission is to support artists so that San Antonio continues to be a city that inspires, creates and makes the world a better place through art,” Lozano said. “We are ALL art.”

Visit luminariasa.com for more details and @luminariasa on social media. Click here to donate!

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