November 1, 2017 Updated: November 3, 2017 2:53pm
“La Monarca” is a solar-powered mural featuring imagery by Cruz Ortiz that will be displayed between the Juan O’Gorman and Carlos Merida murals at the Convention Center during Luminaria. Photo: Courtesy Photo
To many, Luminaria is a bit like Brigadoon: It pops up for a few hours for an evening or two, and then all of the enchantment it contained vanishes until the following year.
That’s not entirely the case, said Kathy Armstrong, executive director of the annual arts blowout.
“The November contemporary arts festival is an event not to be missed, but the artistic impact lives on for artists, audiences and San Antonio,” Armstrong said via email. “Perhaps it is with the murals (which began in 2014) that audiences most recognize the legacy of Luminaria’s contemporary arts festivals, and they are fabulous, but so are the many event-exclusive arts interactions and the arts that live on in other forms.”
Armstrong, who has been involved with the event since it began and has led it for the past three years, said theater pieces staged at Luminaria have been produced across the country, and literary works have been published in journals. In addition, she said, pieces created for the event add to artists’ portfolios and collaborations developed for the work strengthen the city’s art scene.
For the past few years, the evening also has been preserved in a catalog that is available for purchase. That will be the case this year, as well.
The 10th annual Luminaria — which takes place Nov. 10, with community events in Southtown on Nov. 11 — holds a few projects that will remain visible reminders of the festival.
They include a glow-in-dark mural about the chili queens; “La Monarca,” billed as the world’s first solar mural; and artist-painted bicycles created for Bcycle. A less-visible — for now — example of Luminaria’s impact will be the skills taught by Luminaria artists Miniature Curiosa and San Antonio Dance Fringe in free workshops the day after the main event.
Artists María López and Javier de Riba — who work with Reskate, a Barcelona-based studio — are creating a glow-in-the-dark mural between the Sweeney and Hermann Schultz houses. It is a semi-permanent piece that will stay there for a few years, Armstrong said.
The mural will look different depending upon when it is viewed.
“During daylight, the viewer gets an image, and at night a different image appears,” the artists said via email. “We like how this technique and special paint allows us to tell a story relating two illustrations in the same wall. Also the way people can interact with the mural in the darkness using their phone lights to paint on it is very interesting.”
Reskate has created glow-in-the-dark pieces in several cities in Europe, including Vienna, Austria, and Zaragoza, Spain.
“We thought that it is really powerful and illustrative to represent one of these women during daylight and at night as a queen,” said the Reskate artists. “We intend to do just as the Chili Queens did, to gather diverse people at night to have a good time.”
The piece — a large lotería card depicting a monarch butterfly painted by Cruz Ortiz — is visually striking. But there’s more to it than its good looks.
“La Monarca” is billed as the world’s first Solar Mural artwork. The image is printed on film from Sistine Solar that will absorb sunlight, passing it to the solar module beneath and generating energy. That energy will be stored and used to illuminate the mural after dark.
The project is being spearheaded by Penelope Boyer as part of her work with the Land Heritage Institute. She has organized a series of Art-Sci symposiums exploring the intersection of art and science, and when she realized that the 2017 round fell during Luminaria, she reached out to Armstrong in hopes of it being included on the event’s calendar. Armstrong agreed, and also told Boyer that if she had an idea for an art project for the event, she should submit a proposal for that as well.
Boyer has long been intrigued by the idea of public art that generates energy, and this seemed like a good time to make something like that happen. Doing so required a lot of organizations to come together. The mural is a collaboration between the Land Heritage Institute Art-Sci Projects, EPICenter, the Local Initiatives Support Corp. and the Land Art Generator Initiative, an international organization that “is at the forefront of making renewable energy beautiful,” Boyer said. OCI Solar Power, Mission Solar Energy, Sistine Solar and Sun Action Trackers worked to fabricate and provide technical support for the project.
The mural can be found between the Juan O’Gorman and Carlos Merida murals on the Convention Center campus during Luminaria. Afterward, it will be relocated to EPICenter, the former Mission Road Power Plant that is being transformed into a center for clean energy innovation.
Boyer is hoping that more solar murals pop up: “My vision is to have a swarm of them all over the city,” she said.
Bcycle, the bike share program, has been a part of Luminaria for a long time, providing access to bikes to artists who come in from out of town to help them get around during their stay. This year, though, the organization is getting involved in a very different way: It has commissioned five San Antonio artists to paint bike frames.
The bikes will be unveiled during Luminaria.
The participating artists are Cristina Sosa Noriega, Ruth Buentello, Resa Wohlrabe, Kathy Sosa and James Sedgwick. Information about their work will be affixed to the bikes on the baskets and rear tires in the spaces that are usually reserved for advertising.
“We really just want to be part of Luminaria, we want to be part of the arts community, and we want to liven up our bikes,” said Angel Whitley, who oversees community engagement for Bcycle.
The artists were given the bike frames minus the gears and other mechanics that might get in the way of their work. Bcycle staff will re-assemble the bikes before Luminaria, and they will be added to the regular fleet of 530 bicycles on Nov. 13. Plans are being made for social media contests calling on folks to seek out the flashy new bikes.
Ideally, more artist-adorned bikes will be added in the future.
“I’m hoping this is something we can do each year and maybe get the community involved,” Whitley said.
Do it yourself
Luminaria attendees who want to try their hand at some of what they see can give it a go at a pair of free workshops Saturday.
Miniature Curiosa’s Murphi Cook and Zach Dorn — who will be presenting the live video projection/play “The Clown Was Stung by Wasps” — will offer a session in live video projection. And San Antonio Dance Fringe will teach the choreography for “Atom,” a new piece that will debut at Luminaria.
The two-hour workshops take place 1 p.m. Nov. 11 as part of a day of community programming in Southtown.
Cook and Dorn often use live video projections to help create the fanciful worlds in their work. They will be using it at Luminaria for a piece that unfolds both inside a car and on a screen.
They collaborated with drama students from Madison High School on the piece, which also involves puppets.
“It is sort of like there’s a play inside of a car that’s unfolding while we are live videoing a movie that the teens inside of the car are watching,” said Cook. “It’s two shows happening at one time.”
Cook and Dorn are hoping those who participate in the workshop will take their newfound skills and use them to create their own tales.
“All the stuff we’re doing at Luminaria, we can teach you how to do that,” Cook said.
Ashley Mazzanti, director and co-founder of San Antonio Dance Fringe, also is hoping that the company’s workshop will demonstrate that dance is accessible.
“It’s an opportunity to kind of get the community involved and make dancing seem not too scary,” Mazzanti said.
“Atom” was choreographed by all four members of the dance company. It is broken into three sections, each a little faster than the last.
“What I’m excited about is we can teach the people this movement that we did, but also let them know that it doesn’t have to be exactlty the way we did it,” Mazzanti said. “It’s open to interpretation. That’s kind of what life does, too — it can’t be a carbon copy of everyone else’s. Every atom is a little bit different and unique.”
firstname.lastname@example.org | @DeborahMartinEN
Arts writer | San Antonio Express-News
What: Annual multidisciplinary arts blowout
VIP package: $250, includes a preview from 8 to 9 p.m. Nov. 9; access to balconies where ticketholders can watch Luminaria from a distinctive vantage; and admission to the closing night party from 8-11 p.m. Nov. 11. Available at luminariasa.org.
Merch: Luminaria merchandise includes T-shirts with a new logo marking the event’s 10th anniversary ($20); backpacks ($5); and water bottles ($10).
Nov. 10 activities
When: 7 p.m. to midnight Nov. 10 at Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St.
Food: Food booths will be available on site.
Contest: Those who come are invited to turn up in artful and bright ensembles; prizes will be given for the best outfits.
Getting there: VIA is extending the hours for its VIVA culture routes. Those who want to bike to the event will be able to leave their rides with bike valets from Pop-up Pedal.
ArtQuest: The cultural scavenger hunt —in which families can get passports stamped for activities as they work their way through the event — returns this year.
Nov. 11 activities
Brunches: “Hit the Street” — a discusion about street art with artists Reskate, Ruth Buentello and Gera Lozano — is at Freight, 1913 S. Flores St. “San Antonio Revealed” — a discussion of how the city is captured in art with Marisela Barrera and Frank Valdez — is at the Cevallos Lofts, 301 E. Cevallos St. “Hemisfair in Transition” — a discussion of the district’s past and future — is at Southtown Flats, 111 Probandt. Each brunch starts at 11 a.m. and costs $35. Seating is limited. Reservations can be made at luminariasa.org.
CD sales: Musicians who play for Luminaria will sell and sign their work. 1 to 3 p.m., Showdown Gallery, 1420 S. Alamo St., No. 103. Free.
Literary readings: 2-4 p.m., Sandy Whitby Studio, 1906 S. Flores St., Suite C. Writers Joshua Robbins, Shelia Black, Assef Al-Jundi, Elizabeth Allen, Brian Chasnoff, Leslie Tolbert and Naomi Shihab Nye will read from their work. Free.
Workshops: 1-3 p.m., 1906 S. Flores St. Miniature Curiosa will teach how to work with live video projection. And San Antonio Dance Fringe will teach the choreography for their piece “Atom.” Free.
Symposium: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mercury Projects, 538 Roosevelt Ave. The Land Heritage Institute presents its fifth annual Art-Sci Symposium, a discussion of topics in which art and science intersect.