Cannabis + Canvases

From branded cans to dispensary galleries, things are looking mighty colorful

As anyone who’s ever smoked a joint is well aware, cannabis and art go hand-in-hand. There are even studies about it and stuff, presumably conducted by people who were unable to just listen to an album sober and then listen to it stoned and then evaluate the difference. But I digress … 

It’s no secret that emerging brands, including those in the recreational weed space, are all about artist collaborations. On the visual art front, the cannabis packaging rat race has yielded mini galleries in glass cases across the Commonwealth, as edible and even bud boxes and containers are increasingly colorful.

This week, let’s first turn to Levia, the Mass-born cannabis-infused seltzer brand that, at this point, we suspect will eventually be as much a household name as Sam Adams. In addition to “bringing the sunshine a bit early this year as they announce the launch of their spring seasonal flavor, Orange Blossom,” they also enlisted Mass-based illustrator Dean McKeever “to conceptualize and design the innovative label, where warm colors, a female focal point, and a sense of beauty were the inspiration behind the illustration.” The result is truly gorgeous, something to put on your shelf after you suck all the nectar out of it.

On the actual dispensary side of things, frequent visitors to any number of pot shops across Mass may have noticed how bright the walls are, as several companies have brought in local artists to liven things up. As we reported last year, Seed in Jamaica Plain has the incredible Core Social Justice Cannabis Museum that you ought to check out whether you consume or not. Among the installations there, one interactive exhibit allows heads to “immerse in the hypocrisy of America’s fractured relationship with cannabis.” You can step inside of a cell, which has doors “sourced from a 1930s prison in Belmont,” and where a video plays the tragic drug war story of Peter Tosh’s son Jawara as told by his older sister Niambe McIntosh, a member of the Core museum’s curating council.

And out in Western Mass, this month our friends at the always inventive Canna Provisions are featuring Amanda Brough as their featured artist, and the color-on-black pieces hanging on the walls are worth more than a look. Weed aficionados often drive out to these dispensaries near the New York border to grab items from the Smash Hits line bred by cannabis icon Chemdog (which also has some seriously collectible packaging), but chances are a few of them will also leave with Brough’s hit illustrations too.

“There’s something about blocking off different colors with funky playful hidden details that I just really enjoy,” the artist explains. “My first painting was called ‘Stay Weird,’ and I feel like the rest of my paintings also carry suit. Some others for example are named ‘Who Cares’ or ‘Stay Wild,’ which reinforce my overall viewpoint to remain true to your inner child and have fun. I love incorporating bright colors against the black because it’s so polar opposite that it just works. Sometimes you need a little color in this dark world.”

And it doesn’t hurt to have some weed either.