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Arts & CUlture

Luminaria: Lights and acrobatics finally here (again)

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Aerialist Julia Langenberg. Photo: Sandy Carson and Blue Lapis Light.

Photo: Creative Civilzation, License: N/A

Creative Civilzation

Glowing lanterns drift skyward during the finale of Luminaria 2011


Surviving a wash-out is tough for event organizers. In addition to the extra costs of a second go, there's the difficulty of finding a new date unencumbered by other activities and the burden of motivating hundreds of participants, volunteers, and sponsors to give it one more try. So, thumbs-up to the Luminaria crew for a successful regrouping that lands the city's biggest free arts festival back at HemisFair Park this Saturday, May 5, for its fifth-year run. That's a relatively quick turn-around (hey, they could've skipped a year) for an event that was rained out in March.

For those making the obvious connection — no, the light-based art fest has not been retooled as a Cinco de Mayo party, so big hats are optional. And with the exception of a half-dozen or so individuals with prior commitments, all the original cast of artists and performers picked for the March fest will show up this Saturday. So, what's new this year?

Last year, local artist Chris Sauter curated visual artists into the event; this year he and other Luminaria organizers have been busy curating curators. For the first time, out-of-town adjudicators were chosen by the festival to decide which artists responding to an open call would make the cut in dance, literary art, media art, music, theater/performance, and visual art. The experts were also given the opportunity to invite artists who had not submitted applications. We asked Sauter for his favorites from the over 90 individuals and groups chosen.

Here's his short list:

Based in Kansas City, Whoop Dee Doo is a community arts project and live show for kids that travels about, adding local performers to shows that riff off TV classics like Sesame Street and Pee-wee's Playhouse. In a recent work they created a gigantic microwave oven and did a performance in it. "They are really kooky. Children love it," Sauter said. The KC jokesters have staged shows for some art world heavies, too, like the venerable Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and New York's Deitch Projects. Evidently, adults get it, too. Check it out at the Women's Pavilion from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Gary Sweeney and Hyperbubble will be putting on a circus and hosting a fashion show organized by International Academy of Design & Technology (IADT) students at the fountain near the Instituto de Mexico; various times.

Julia Langenberg's aerial dance has rebounded off buildings across Texas, rocks SeaWorld on a regular basis, and has caught the attention of Cirque du Soleil. She'll twirl Luminaria at HemisFair Arch throughout the evening.

It's still under wraps, but Sauter is also looking forward to Michele Monseau's site-specific video projection at the Women's Building, which will unveil after dark.

As in previous years, some of the art will be mobile. You can't help but notice 10bitworks, otherwise known as the troupe running around in LED costumes, blinking like a swarm of fireflies.

The Family Area (next to the Magik Theatre) will open at 5 p.m.; main entertainment begins at 7 p.m., with the light-based pieces beginning to glow shortly after sunset at 8:13 p.m. and shining till midnight. More performance times and parking info at luminariasa.org. •

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