Marijuana–If It Isn't News, Is It Art?



Since Redheaded Blackbelt merged with Lost Coast Outpost some folk have been asking the question — “What is all that weed doing on my news site?” Even in Humboldt many people don’t take cannabis seriously.  In Idaho, potatoes are news.  On the Gulf, seafood is news. But here in Humboldt, where marijuana is by far the largest economic engine of the entire North Coast,  many people want to relegate  talk about it to whispers in the back alley. Growers and non-growers alike are sometimes uncomfortable talking about the marijuana world.  But I’d like to see Cannabis news and Cannabis culture get taken seriously.  I love the beauty of the plant and the wonderful crazy folk that grow it. So I’ve worked hard at creating a showing of marijuana themed photographs. And I’m not the only one working on this crazy project. This Saturday during Arts Alive in the Hobart Galleries/Kinetic Sculpture Race Museum at 437 F St. in Eureka, Curtis Otto, Sharon Letts, and myself will be displaying our work alongside the fabulous 420 Quilt.

Longtime local artist Curtis Otto can often seen painting in the front yard of his Eureka home. His instantly recognizable signature style of free form canvas shapes and compilation design add to the overall impact of the imagery. Otto was a featured artist in Hobart Galleries in Ferndale for many years and recently was on display at the Morris Graves museum. A series of oil paintings exploring his views on the marijuana culture in Humboldt promises to be a highlight of the show.

Curtis Otto painting by Sharon Letts

Writer/photographer, Sharon Letts, has been reporting on the convoluted legislation of medical marijuana and legalization nationwide. A contributor to High Times Medical Journal, Kush Magazine, Skunk Magazine, Nug Mag, and Columnist for The Puffington Host, Letts pens “Humboldt Stories,” a fictional account based on fact of the Humboldt grow scene. Here’s one of her photos.

Sharon Lett's photo


Also on display at the Marijuana Show will be The 420 Quilt. Cannabis folk art has mostly been tucked quietly into the corners of the Emerald Triangle. However, last year, nine local women came together to celebrate the long history of Humboldt’s cannabis culture openly. Some of them have been part of a loose sewing group that have worked together for decades on quilts that were raffled off to benefit non-profits or to beautify each others’ homes. These folk art pieces have often contained hidden cannabis art embroidered or appliqued in subtle places. But with cloth and thread, the women have chosen to highlight the controversial plant that brings so much fame/infamy to the area. Some of the women artists, afraid of repercussions, have decided to keep their names a secret. Others are shyly stepping forward. Everything in this lovely piece speaks of women creating art in the quiet spaces of their busy lives. Rich raw silks and thick velvets as well as a marijuana leaf cloth especially designed for this piece by Eureka Fabrics are layered with applique and embroidery to create a vibrant and whimsical, yet practical, art piece.

St John’s Bossanova Baby will entertain from 6 to 9 p.m., Street Beats Dance Company will have a break dance performance by the REGULATORS, Rocky and Dan the Man Valdez at 7:30. Stay for the Kinetic After-Party with rock band, Scotch Wiggly, performing from 9:30 to midnight.

The Kinetic Sculpture Race museum is full of past Kinetic machines and interesting items including Kinetic Race founder, Hobart Brown’s studio, dismantled and re-built in all its glory. There is also art and gifts to purchase, and merchandise from sister company, “Humboldt Homegrown,” a local company with an eye to the future of Cannabis.

This Saturday I’d love to meet you.  Maybe we’ll find out—If marijuana isn’t news, is it art? Or is it some odd combination of the two?

The top and bottom photos are mine.  I’ll be tweeting a cannabis themed photo a day from now until the end of March when we take down the show.  If you are interested, you can follow me at


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