Sacramento artists were challenged to create art inspired by cannabis in some way, shape or form. The works are on display at Exhale Smoke Shop in Midtown.
Two years ago, Exhale Smoke Shop in Midtown hot boxed its entire store—legally.
Shop owner Ryan Donnelly says this unique opportunity occurred in the years before the state Bureau of Cannabis Control cracked down with regulations that are in place today.
Donnelly says he applied for a liquor license through Alcoholic Beverage Control, had police officers on site and fenced off the store’s perimeter in celebration of 4/20, the annual stoner holiday.
“This place was filled with 100-plus people all smoking,” Donnelly says. “There’s not one place yet where stoners can come together and meet just like a bar. You can go sit down and have a beer with your friends, but there’s literally nothing like that so we have to create something.”
But now, on-site consumption is decided by each local government and Sacramento does not allow it. Still, Donnelly says he aims to use Exhale Smoke Shop as a place for art shows and live music where fellow stoners can meet and feel a sense of community.
On Saturday, July 13, in partnership with Monthleaf, a local cannabis subscription box company, Exhale Smoke Shop is hosting its latest art exhibit with more than 10 artists showing works that were inspired, in some way, by cannabis.
“We might not be able to smoke at the event, but we can come together and know we have the same interests,” Donnelly says.
Bryanne Vincent, curator for the event and CEO of Monthleaf, says she approached a lot of the artists participating such as Delgeta Brown, who has shown her “Afrofuturism”-style acrylic paintings in galleries from Yuba City to San Francisco.
“I’m really just trying to put forward an image that shows a more prosperous future for the community of color with specific regard to African Americans because that’s my community and that’s my perspective,” Brown says. “… A lot of my art will show a lot of African Americans looking very prosperous, very regal. And to me, to paint things like that, it’s empowering.”
Brown tore her Achilles tendon last year and says she was offered an edible by a friend. She says it helped, and replaced her prescription pain medication. A believer in holistic health, Brown says cannabis complements the natural herbs she uses for relaxation, such as lavender and chamomile.
“To me, it felt like a safer alternative because if you take too many painkillers it damages your kidneys … I healed naturally, too, I didn’t have to have the surgery,” Brown says.
During her creative process for this upcoming exhibit, Brown says she thought about her experience with the edible.
For live entertainment, classical clarinetist Brennen Milton is scheduled to play laid-back numbers throughout the evening. Milton has performed at Carnegie Hall and also with the Sacramento Philharmonic. With 20 years behind the woodwind instrument, he says he often uses cannabis to get past his performance jitters.
“A lot of times, I get anxiety and have small panic attacks,” Milton says. “After the cannabis has induced that, next thing you know the downbeat comes and I’m just performing and having a good time.”
Artist Ciara Cumiskey is curator at Gallery 1075 in West Sacramento, where she also does graphic design. Her pinup and comic book-style art will also be on display during the show. For Cumiskey, cannabis calms her thoughts to a point where she says she no longer second guesses her work.
“I’m a frequent worrier. I’m either consumed by the past, or fretting about the future. And my relationship with cannabis is that it really helps me calm down and live in the moment,” she says. “The other day I had one plan, but found myself calm enough when the paint strokes took me in a different wave, I just followed that wave in a completely different direction than I had planned.”
When mixed media artist Appria Negrete isn’t creating artwork on canvas or Bristol, she’s also known to paint a few faces. During Hacker Lab’s Pride event in June, she showcased some of her artwork and also painted kids’ faces. For this art show, she’ll be selling 11-by-17 originals and prints, which features curvy feminine figures, space and animals.
“Some of my works are not necessarily cannabis inspired, but they’re cannabis inspired,” she says, laughing. “Most of my work is done under the influence.”
Her favorite piece that will be on display was inspired by a photograph of her friend who is smoking a blunt, a fitting piece for a show that takes cannabis and challenges artists to incorporate it into polished works of art.
“The way she was holding it, and the way her lips were, it looked sophisticated and classy and sexy while also infusing the use of cannabis,” Negrete says.
Painters, crocheters and mixed-media artists will all participate in the exhibit. Raffles and prizes, such as a Monthleaf subscription box, will also be up for grabs as well as an exhibit on the history of cannabis to help educate non-users.
“We are looking for ways to normalize cannabis,” Vincent says. “The war on drugs has caused a lot of damage to the community. So we’re trying to create an atmosphere where people who do consume feel like they are safe, feel like they can talk and bond.”