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'Flores Oscuras' Halloween show explores real-life terrors people of color face

Above: "Flores Oscuras" graphic by Noah Exum.

Halloween weekend is designated as a time of fright, but for many BIPOC people fear is not contained to a single weekend. “Flores Oscuras” features seven artists who identify as Black, Brown, or Indigenous to express their real and lived horrors in a variety of artistic mediums.

To ensure COVID safety, the free event takes place outdoors Friday and Saturday at Lake Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis with a maximum capacity of 50 people. “Doors” are at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 6 p.m. People should get tickets from a makeshift box office on the lot. Seating is limited, so come early and bring a chair or blanket.  

“The artists can go super deep into fantasy or they can be very real and talk about their traumas,” said artist Xochi de la Luna, who is staging the show. “As a content warning, there will be some heavy themes explored like sexual abuse and the violence of white supremacy for instance, but there will also be some campy, goofy performances.”

Xochi de la Luna

De la Luna (photo by Dena Denny) was inspired to organize this performance when they realized that the city has only white-led and white-run horror shows.

“If you look into Latin art, you see skulls, caskets, a lot of talk about death even in indigenous scripture,” the artist said in a video interview with Emerging Curators Institute (ECI), a yearlong fellowship designed to support curators from diverse backgrounds through research and professional development. 

“So there’s one aspect of horror, but then also the lived experience of lived horror – brown people, Black, Indigenous – when we talk about horror, not just talk about the supernatural but also the scary realities when it comes to mental health, white supremacy, immigration, so I wanted a place to put it all together.”

Featured artists include Noah Lawrence-Holder, Teighlor McGee, Taylor Pleasant, Maya Lawrence, Comrade Tripp, Olive and BE. 

The show was originally supposed to be staged last May at Strike Theater in northeast Minneapolis. As de la Luna searched for an outdoor location for pandemic times, artist Ryan Stopera suggested they check out Roberts Annex, the vacant lot where Roberts Shoe Store once stood. Artist Sam Gould and their partner Duaba Unenra insisted that de la Luna do the show on Halloween weekend.

Ironically, de la Luna had always hoped that the show could happen around Halloween/Dia de los Muertos.

“I do feel a connection with ancestral energy on that weekend,” de la Luna said. “There will be a full moon on Halloween, and while we’ve had this cold weather for two to three weeks, it’s supposed to be dry and warm.

“It feels bizarre. I am a little spooked, but I don't think I should be afraid.”

Minnesota artists make buttons and stickers to get out the vote

“I’m voting.” It’s a simple yet effective declaration that’s now on more than 40,000 buttons and stickers available at more than 50 businesses and arts venues in Minnesota.

Turn Up the Turnout, a nonpartisan voter turnout initiative, enlisted 22 artists, including 17 who are BIPOC or LGBTQ+, to design the buttons and stickers. Each artist received a $250 stipend.

Committee member Anne Labovitz said that Turn Up the Turnout wanted to have a big event, but that wasn’t possible because of COVID-19. Instead, the group opted to focus on buttons, stickers and social media. People can pick up free buttons at the Weisman Art Museum along with dozens of stores, galleries and restaurants in the Twin Cities, Duluth and elsewhere around the state.

To find locations, visit thecreativesconnector.com. There is also a short video about the project on view at the Weisman.

“The buttons and stickers are more accessible to young people,” said Labovitz. “The pins are a little more trendy for a younger person, like Instagram posting.”

She acknowledged that the initiative wasn’t specifically targeting young people exclusively, but definitely made sense for them. In Minnesota, voter registration for this election cycle is up 12% for youths ages 18-24.

Visit @turnuptheturnout on Instagram to grab free filters created by REM5, a virtual reality lab in Minneapolis. Voters can also snap a selfie with the button or sticker and tag it on social media with #turnuptheturnout to be entered to win a Visa gift card worth $500. Entries accepted through Nov. 1.

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