From November 9-13, the historic Eastside will play host to Luminaria, San Antonio’s contemporary multi-arts festival. Even though the festival hasn’t kicked into full gear quite yet, artists are already picking up brushes, finding walls to paint on, and sketching ideas to help build excitement for the event.
On Wednesday, Italian artist duo Sten Lex came to San Antonio to start work on a mural on the arches of Burleson Yard Beer Garden, located at 430 Austin St. The duo made the drive from Austin, where they also were creating street art around the city.
In August, the artists will begin work on another mural at 321 Center St., also in light of Luminaria. All murals will remain in place throughout the festival dates.
Sten and Lex, the two components to Sten Lex, met while attending university in Rome, and due to their collaborative art projects they decided to blend their names to create a unified artistic identity. They are mostly known for street art that features portraits, but only recently they delved into abstract art, Sten said. They have produced murals in places such as Madrid, Poland, Potsdam, and London.
The two don’t like to reveal their faces in photographs, which adds to their mystique.
Sten Lex is best known for introducing the halftone stencil technique, in which the greater part of their stencil portrait is composed of thousands of lines.
“They usually call us for festivals and big size murals,” Sten said. “We’re very excited. It’s our first time in San Antonio.”
Luminaria was established in 2008 and provides entertainment and artwork by featured regional, national, and international artists. Dancers, actors, poets, comedians, musicians, visual artists, and others have taken part in the multi-arts festival over the years and have helped further ignite the art scene in San Antonio.
This year, Luminaria’s anchor artistic partner is the Carver Community Cultural Center, and other Eastside landmarks like the Hays Street Bridge, Dignowity Park, and Lockwood Park will all become activation spaces for multi-arts when the festival begins. The “epic night festival” will be on Friday, Nov. 11, from 8 p.m.-midnight.
(Read more: Eastside to Host Luminaria Art Festival in November)
“Artists are excited to come to up-and-coming areas (where) they can transform something mundane into something breathtaking,” said Kathy Armstrong, Luminaria executive director. “It creates an exciting footprint.”
Sten Lex’s arrival and participation at Burleson is part of a series of benefits during the summer that aims to support the organization and prepare the community for what’s to come. Burleson had special drinks Wednesday to support the organization – one dollar from any Italian drink sold benefitted Luminaria. The artists continued work on the mural Thursday.
“This (mural) is really a gift to Luminaria and San Antonio, and also shows the connections that are built through street art,” Armstrong said. “One of our strategic goals is to introduce art to people and people to downtown locations. We like to facilitate re-introductions to locations and events, (and be a part of) that downtown activation through multi-arts.”
As to Sten Lex’s mural, “it’s a form of stencil art and poster,” said artist Scotch Willington, who reached out to the duo and invited them to San Antonio for Luminaria. “They use a mix of wheat paste, a type of glue for wall paper paste. They paint over it and peel part of it to create a graphic effect of decay.”
Willington said that Luminaria has made a sincere effort to reach out to more international artists and that many applied for this year’s festival and were accepted.
“The fall is really shaping up and selected artists have been notified,” Armstrong said. “It’s a rain or shine event, so some pieces (can be) in interior spaces.”
The location of this year’s Luminaria will serve to introduce different kinds of art to people in the community, Armstrong said. The Eastside, an area with deep black history and cultural ties, continues to transform into a vibrant and diverse area with future activation events in the works.
The series of benefits for Luminaria will continue over the summer. On Tuesday, Aug. 9, Paramour will host a welcome party from 5:30-8 p.m. Willington will be working on a mural during the event. On Saturday, Aug. 13 Alamo Beer Hall will provide music, vendors, and host a food truck competition from 2 p.m.-midnight. More events will be announced in the coming weeks.
It will be a busy fall season for San Antonio’s Eastpoint. On Saturday, Oct. 15, roughly a month before Luminaria opens, the 2016 San Antonio Beer Festival will take to Lockwood and Dignowity parks from 1:30-6:30 p.m. The Beer Festival will accommodate breweries, artisans, and local businesses, with all proceeds of the event going to the San Antonio Food Bank.
Selected artists and performers for Luminaria will be announced in September. To find out more, visit Luminaria’s website here.
Top image: Artist duo Sten Lex look at the Burleson Yard arches to imagine how their art will look. Photo by Rocío Guenther.