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Arts & Culture

Luminaria 2013 brings ecstatic changes

Photo: , License: N/A

Meow Wolfe Preliminary design.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Kate Temple past work studies.

Luminaria, San Antonio's version of the Nuit Blanche (White Night) art event that started began in Paris in the 1982, is happening again this Saturday, March 9 in its sixth annual iteration. Since its inception in Europe, the concept of a night filled with art and light has spread to form events around the world, from Canada to Asia. Typically, the art night in other cities features several very large (and costly) installations, some food, and perhaps a bit of music and dance. Of course, this being SA, we do things differently — with a populist spin. Here, everything is local. And here the arts represented aren't all visual, though there is an emphasis on light.Disciplines included are organized into categories including media, literary arts, visual arts, dance, theater and performing art, and music.

This year artists have again been invited from out of town and the country, but the event is, says Southwest School of Art curator and Luminaria associate director, "organized by the San Antonio arts community." Many — over 600 —artists will participate (along with 85 bands and projects) in the art party that begins at 7 p.m. in HemisFair Park, Alamo Street, the Arneson River Theatre, and rolls on to midnight. Expect a large number of visitors, too. Last year, over 315,000 people attended the event.

Every year some things change. Begun in San Antonio at the prompting of then-Mayor Hardberger, the first Luminaria was held in the streets and buildings near the Alamo. Later moved to HemisFair Park, the event has changed how artists are chosen several times, though as is true this year, there has always been a strong concern to allow local artists to participate, and they have, whether by responding to the open artists call, or by being curated in directly.

This year the footprint of the event has shifted from last year, moving west. The large stage out in the southeast section of the park? Gone. Also gone are the fire balloons used in the closing ceremonies, due to safety concerns by the fire marshal. While we don't mind seeing some change, we do hope the authorities allow some use of fire in staged performances. As we go to print, news on that decision is still pending. Also changed is the area for the food court and trucks, which has shifted from the back edge towards the center of the park, south of the Instituto Cultural de Mexico.

Most importantly, performance sets will be longer — a relief, no doubt, for both performers who had to scurry on and off with little time on stage, and for the audience, too, who will be treated with more air time, and less dead air. To do this, fewer acts will perform, but it sounds like a good call. Eight stages will accommodate the musical and theatrical performances.

There will also be mobile fringe events, such as a barge on the river crewed by SAY Sí students and faculty, and a roving art car from the Art Cars of Houston, which will drive about the downtown. With dozens of performances and installations, it's impossible mention every artist or group. Here are a few that intrigued us.

Meow Wolf

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