As 4/20 approaches, so does a three-day pot-flavored pop-up of psychedelic art in Santa Monica — hash tag ‘hash’
By Michael Aushenker
4/20 is almost here — so close, you can almost smell it, taste it and, this weekend, see it, when Daniel Rolnik Gallery and Pengu Labs’ “Pacific Stoner Time: Pot in L.A. Weekend” hits Santa Monica.
The exhibit, Rolnik said, is about “bringing together the best psychedelic and irreverent minds for a three-day pop-up exhibition culminating in a 420 Takeover, exploring the significance of altering your brainwaves and chilling out.”
Rolnik has wanted to do “a take on stoner culture” since 2012, when he was a freelance arts writer and Gorecki — one half of Pengu Labs with Alex McAdams — ran Homeroom Gallery on L.A.’s eastside.
A lighthearted send-up of L.A.’s multi-museum exhibition Pacific Standard Time, “Pacific Stoner Time” intends to capture
a 1960s-‘70s head shop vibe: “Black-light posters, bands from that time, the psychedelic imagery from that time,” Gorecki said.
“I don’t smoke pot, but my friends do,” Rolnik said. “However, I’ve still always been fascinated by pot culture and have loved the brilliant artwork influenced by it.”
The three-tiered event starts Saturday evening with the group show’s opening reception and continues Sunday with the Stoner Time Artist Hangout: what Rolnik called “a very laid back art talk, interactive with the people there,” replete with pizza; and Monday’s Sleepaway Camp 420, led by Austin Wolf-Sothern, the comedian who runs Sleepaway Camp (named after the horror movie), a comedy troupe with musicians and projected visuals “mining the depths of the grotesque Internet,” at downtown’s Independent Theatre.
“Pacific Stoner Time” includes Om Bleicher (owner of Santa Monica’s bG Gallery), West L.A.’s Keith Dugas, Jessicka Addams, Dave Bondi, Kristina Collantes, Leah C. Dixon, Steven Fiche, Joseph Florence, Penelope Gazin, Champoy Hate, Jason Hill (who creates the monthly “Venice Stories” graphic storytelling panel for The Argonaut), Patrick Jilbert, Hellen Jo, Nora Keyes, Nicole Killian, Shaq Jizz, Malcom Stuart, Jen Tong and Tripple U. Barefoot Lazer Tie-Dye is offering clothes for sale.
Beth Pecora sets the characters in her colorful “Reaper” against a beachside backdrop echoing John Van Hamersveld’s “The Endless Summer” poster art.
Fox ADHD Art Director John Pham of Adult Swim’s “The Problem Solverz” contributes art capturing “an ‘80s magazine aesthetic,” Gorecki said.
Cartoonists Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely (“The Humans”) are also in the show, as is Adam Roth, whom Gorecki said has a “beautiful grungy style influenced by his toy collection: cartoony comic-book characters with distorted anatomy.”
Keller, who has two pieces in the show, said he’s reaped benefits from cannabis, if not all that comes attached to it.
“It helps me with certain maladies and aspects of my life,” he said. “But I hate pot culture. I think I’ve drawn a pot leaf maybe once in my life. I don’t think aliens are cool, I don’t own anything with pot leaves on it, I’m not a Rastafarian, nor do I care about something just because pot is involved.”
With Pengu partner McAdams, Gorecki creates animatronic installations emulating the type of cartoon-character robots once ubiquitous throughout California at Chuck E. Cheese’s and Bullwinkle restaurants, as well as at Disneyland’s now-defunct America Sings attraction (but the Enchanted Tiki Room is still singin’). This time, Pengu presents the “Puffin’ Puffin,” a joint-tokin’ bird with a breathing mechanism emitting clouds of smoke.
Regardless of how anyone feels about it, reefer is in the air these days — and not just as a lingering post-hippie hangover. Colorado and Washington have legalized it, and California seems poised to eventually do the same. Marijuana has practically gone mainstream over the past 25 years through our collective pop culture, whether it’s Snoop Dogg or Cypress Hill glorifying herb or pop-punk bands naming themselves “Green Day.” Or throw a dart at a wall of movie posters with Seth Rogen in the credits. Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” (home of “Problem Solverz”) has perpetuated munchies-ready, late-night absurdism with shows such as “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!,” “Loiter Squad” and “The Eric Andre Show.”
Gorecki was weaned on ‘90s Greg Araki films, he said, but “‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ led me to George Carlin’s counterculture comedy; he played Rufus!” Musically, it wasn’t literal marijuana manifestos like Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic,” but Spiritualize and The Flaming Lips who proved “more disorienting to the ear” for Gorecki. Or the perfect 3 a.m. unintentional psychedelia of foreign animated fare “Fantastic Planet” and “Tekkon Kinkreet.”
Once counterculture, stuff like Robert Crumb comics, Robert Williams paintings, John Waters films and movies starring Jack Nicholson has long ago moved out of the margins and damn near center dial.
“Going forward, we’re just a much more documented people. It’s all going down on permanent record,” Gorecki said. “In a way, it’s part of everyday life. At this point, all of our parents and our grandparents have smoked pot.”
And even our presidents!
“Pacific Stoner Time” opens with a reception at 7 p.m. Saturday at Daniel Rolnik Gallery, 1431 Ocean Ave, Ste. 1800, Santa Monica. Stoner Time Artist Hangout takes place at 4 p.m. Sunday, and Sleepaway Camp 420 Takeover ($20) starts at 7 p.m. Monday. Call (310) 729-3399 or visit danielrolnikgallery.com.