Lanterns on the water at Como Park during the 2021 Japanese Obon Festival. Credit: Amy N Kelley

The Twin Cities art scene this weekend offers a festival celebrating the Japanese Obon holiday with a ceremonial lantern lighting, an art gallery showcasing Latinx art within an apartment space, and a rooftop drag brunch.

Doja Cat and Ice Spice Drag Brunch

Drag performer Sasha Cassadine put on a show for a sold out crowd at Union Rooftop in Downtown Minneapolis on Saturday July 29th, 2023. Credit: Aaron Nesheim | Sahan Journal

Flip phone events will host a rooftop drag brunch centered around the artistry of Black female rappers Doja Cat and Ice Spice. The event will be hosted by Black drag performer Sasha Cassadine, along with a lineup of drag performers, including Ken Doll, Domita Sanchez, and Mercedes Iman Diamond, a contestant from season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Date: Saturday, August 19

Time: Shows at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 3 p.m.

Location: Union Rooftop, 731 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis

Cost: $17. Buy tickets here.

For more information: Visit

Orienting Brownness Exhibition 

Semillas Galería, an artist-run apartment gallery founded by Tejana artist Alondra M Garza, will host the “Orienting Brownness” exhibition. The exhibit will feature a range of art forms, including multimedia art, prints, textile sculptures, tapestry art, and paintings by four artists who identify as Latine, offering a glimpse into the community’s queer art scene as part of the gallery’s grand opening. 

Garza’s establishment of Semillas Galería is a response to the dearth of artist-run and artist-owned galleries representing people of color. She hopes to provide a platform for Latine artists to display their work in a gallery setting, as well as creating a space to “teach other audiences and our own community how diverse we are,” she said. 

For Garza, the term “Semillas,” translating to “seeds,” signifies the idea of artists who remain rooted in their cultural heritage while blossoming creatively to create something new. 

Alonzo Pantoja-Patiño, a queer artist and the curator behind the “Orienting Brownness” exhibit, aims to spotlight queer artists of Latin descent, intertwining themes of sexuality, gender, and the complexities associated with “brown” identity.

“Latin culture can be very macho,” Garza said. “There’s one artist”—Erick Medel—“who weaves and does textile work, and for a lot of people, that’s still considered feminine. So how can we start showing more artists that are breaking gender norms?” 

The choice to house Semillas Galería within an apartment space is aimed at fostering a more inviting environment for people of color who might otherwise view galleries as “intimidating or elite,” Garza said. 

“In a way, it’s like you’re visiting a friend or you’re here for a party and there’s art on the walls,” she said. 

Date: Saturday, August 19 through October 7

Time: 6 to 9 p.m. 

Location: 1909 1st Ave. S., Minneapolis

Cost: Free 

For more information: Visit

Japanese Obon Festival 

The annual Japanese Obon Festival will take place this weekend at the Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul. In collaboration with the Japan America Society of Minnesota and the St. Paul-Nagasaki Sister City committee, the festival will offer martial art demonstrations, cultural exhibits, Japanese music and dance, food and merchandise vendors, and a lantern-lighting launch. 

Musical performances will span traditional and contemporary genres, featuring the sounds of the Japanese national instrument, koto, and the melodic tones of shakuhachis (bamboo flutes). The lineup will include international Japanese artists such as taiko drummer Takumi Kato with The Peaceful Forest group and kendama juggler Pun Ho Lam. Local talents include drum ensembles and dance groups such as Taikollaborative, Thunderwave, and Enso Daiko. Nine food vendors will offer Japanese cuisine and desserts. More information about performances, food vendors, and exhibitors can be found here.

“We want people [in Minnesota] to be aware of Japanese culture and the gifts that Japanese Americans have brought to our state,” said JoAnn Blatchley, former president of the St. Paul-Nagasaki Sister City committee.

In conjunction with Japan’s annual Obon holiday commemorating departed ancestors, observed from August 13-15, the Como Park festival will also honor ancestral spirits and celebrate the lives of departed loved ones. 

As the festival comes to a close around 8 p.m., attendees can personalize paper lanterns, which will be lit by volunteers, and set them afloat to honor deceased family members. Paper lanterns can be purchased for $10 each at the St. Paul–Nagasaki Sister City Committee booth.

Date: Sunday, August 20

Time: 3 to 9 p.m. 

Location: Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, St. Paul 

Cost: Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors. Buy tickets here. 

For more information: Visit or call 651-487-8200. 

Myah Goff is an intern at Sahan Journal, currently pursuing a journalism degree at the University of Minnesota.