High Times: Chesterfield Gallery Opens Show Centered Around Marijuana

We’ll be blunt, we’re pumped for Chesterfield Gallery’s newest exhibition entitled Lit! The group exhibition will feature a wide array of works by Chris Ahalt, Hamm Brushland, Jake C, David Colton, John Gordon Gauld, Sergio Garcia, Yoshinori Kondo, Joseph Martinez, Robert Mickelsen, CalM, Adam Miller, Naturel, and See One. The show, opening on April 15th, explores the discussion surrounding on marijuana and its place in current American culture.


“Lit! underscores the transition of perception of marijuana use from marginal to mainstream, undistinguished to dignified. It aims to act as a survey of marijuana’s role in American art by highlighting its place among other significant Americana and contemporary art,” says Director of Chesterfield Gallery Simon Abrahms.


We sat down with Simon to discuss legalization in the US, advice for the government and who he’d light up with.


Art Zealous: Tell us about Lit! and how it came to fruition.

Simon Abrahms: Lit! is meant to start a conversation about marijuana’s role in society, which is something I’ve thought has flown under the radar for a long time. It’s something people talk about, but usually not very seriously and rarely surrounding art. Marijuana legalization is a major social issue that needs more light shed on it.


AZ: How do you see the future of legalization in the United States?

SA: Despite our new Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ stated goals to repeal legalization, the people have spoken. The majority of states have either legalized or decriminalized marijuana in some form. It’s clear that marijuana has a future in this country for medical and recreational uses and that the people, especially in major cities, believe the war on drugs has failed, particularly with cannabis. There’s no good reason for anybody to get arrested for smoking weed in the comfort of their own home and the tax revenue possibilities are significant, so regardless of whether you’re in favor of marijuana itself or just want better schools, roads, or tax cuts elsewhere, everybody has a reason to support legalization.


AZ: The exhibition aims to act as a survey of marijuana’s role in American art by highlighting its place among other significant Americana and contemporary art. Can you elaborate on that?

SA: I chose the word Americana because it pertains to objects of culture and the new sculpture we’re seeing in the form of glass pipes is truly a new frontier of sculpture for this younger generation of art appreciators and collectors. The paintings ranging from Renaissance style to street art also pose the question, “where does marijuana fit into our society?”


AZ: Talk to us about the artists being featured in the exhibition.

SA: One of the things that excites me most is that the processes of each artist in this exhibition varies greatly.


Naturel’s “Stay Lit” is a refreshing blend of Cubism and Pop Art, Adam Miller’s “Bacchus with a Pipe” demonstrates the transition of modern man’s rituals while paying tribute to the Old Masters, and David Colton’s graffiti-inspired glass sculptures make the viewer rethink their preconceived notions of what a pipe can be.


Sergio Garcia, See One, and John Gordon Gauld take a very literal approach to the subject with stylized imagery of marijuana in bud and joint form while functional glass pipes by Chris Ahalt and Yoshinori Kondo, CalM, Hamm Brushland, Jake C, and Robert Mickelsen are seen first as sculpture with the utilitarian aspect being an afterthought to the initial viewer.



AZ: If you could share a joint with someone, living or dead, who would it be?

SA: I would love to share a joint with Jeffrey Deitch, although I’m not sure if that’s his style. To have an open conversation about following your own creative path as somebody who helps artists shape and share their visions with the world. Nobody has done that more than Deitch. And coincidentally, he and I are actually from the same hometown, so I’m sure we’d have a lot to talk about.


AZ: What are you hoping viewers walk away with?

SA: I’m hoping visitors and viewers are exposed to work they’ve never seen before and walk away with an appreciation for the art that is furthering the discussion of marijuana’s role in society.


AZ: What is your advice for the Trump administration as it regards to recreational cannabis use?

SA: Tax and regulate. Our courts’ time wouldn’t be wasted with minor cannabis crimes and the country’s infrastructure and services would improve tremendously with all of that tax revenue.


AZ: Blum and Poe co-founder Jeff Poe was once quoted saying that “weed is transformative, experiential, performative, idea driven.” Would you agree?

SA: Absolutely. Weed can be life-changing for many, whether it’s medical or social. I think the rituals and experiences involved with it are unlike any other activity.


AZ: What’s next for Chesterfield Gallery?

SA: One of my main goals is to help artists make the greatest impact possible by sharing their work with the largest audience. The way I’d like to do that next is through getting involved with public art, pitching projects to cities and communities, adding another element to their landscape. Sculpture gardens and mural festivals are really public outdoor museums, so exposing more people to those types of art would be a great next step. We’re currently exploring some exciting opportunities throughout the northeast.


Lit! April 15th- May 30th at Chesterfield Gallery, 109 Norfolk St, New York


top image // Adam Miller, Bacchus With a Pipe

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