Calling all grass lovers: the Oakland Museum of California will open “Altered State: Marijuana in California” on April 16 (though we have to say, we’re a little surprised they didn’t hold it four days later, when the unofficial stoner celebration commences).
While the show will focus not on art but on sparking a dialogue about the drug, its uses, and the evolving social and political issues surrounding it, we thought it was a good excuse to examine some of the best contemporary weed-themed artworks out there. See our favorites below.
1. Fred Tomaselli, Super Plant
Fred Tomaselli has suspended all kinds of things inside his resin-coated compositions, including bugs, pills, butterflies, and flowers, but this 1994 work is dedicated solely to marijuana. The black background and minimalist style highlights the plant’s delicate, natural beauty without compromising Tomaselli’s signature sense of psychedelia.
Super Plant currently resides in the Hort Family Collection in New York.
2. Dan Colen, Life Marijuana
Noted party boy of the early aughts Dan Colen is sober now, but in 2006 he created an homage to marijuana in the form of this mixed-media installation. To create the work, Colen blew up an iconic Life magazine cover from 1969 that features a marijuana cigarette foregrounded by a pair of lips.
3. Chris Burden, Coals to Newcastle
Burden employed marijuana in many of his performance pieces, but Coals to Newcastle, which he enacted on December 17, 1978, is one of his ballsiest.
Titled after an English idiom that implies a pointless act, Burden flew two joints (grown in the United States) from California to Mexico inside model airplanes inscribes with phrases like “Hecho in U.S.A.,” “Fumenlos Muchachos,” and “Topanga Typica.”
4. Melanie Bernier’s spliff packs
Melanie Bernier, a musician and artist, creates adorable spliff holders from vinyl, fabric, and thread and even makes wood faux-joints to accompany them—excellent tchotchkes for people who prefer not to inhale.
5. Ricardo Cortés, It’s Just a Plant
Artist, illustrator, and author Ricardo Cortés’s offbeat children’s book Marijuana: It’s Just a Plant may not be every parent’s choice for bedtime reading, but it makes a point that pot is something that millions of people use everyday and that children will become aware of eventually—potentially from a less reliable source.
Fun fact: Cortés is also the author of the hilarious adult lullaby parody Go The Fuck to Sleep.
6. Tom Sachs, Bong Hit Station
Tom Sachs’s tongue-in-cheek and absurd 2013 video Bong Hit Station provides potential newbies a detailed (and unnecessarily complex) guide to getting stoned. We challenge your average stoner to try to replicate the steps here.
7. Robert Arneson, California Artist
Drawing on the unfair characterizations he felt he was subject to as an artist working in California, Robert Arneson created the stone sculpture California Artist, in which he portrays himself as a king of backwoods hippie complete with an open denim jacket, a salt-and-pepper beard, and, you guessed it, a pot plant.
8. Bentley Meeker, Bongolier
Light installation artist Bentley Meeker mixes high and low culture with his “Bongoliers”—chandeliers made of repurposed glass bongs. The sculptures juxtapose various sources of light, with some displaying a full spectrum, and some on the more shady side.
Sound like something you have to see to believe? Three of the Bongoliers will be on display at the National Arts Club in New York, October 28–November 7, 2015.
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