The ART420 opened after Thanksgiving, on Black Friday, to a steady flow of visitors at Henao Contemporary Center, all of whom expressed a pleasant surprise at the diversity of artists and content for the 2nd Annual Cannabis Inspired Fine Art Show curated by ART420 founders Erik and Tamieka Range Esq. This exhibition rises above the negative stigma typically associated with cannabis and expands the consciousness of its viewers. The local, national and international painters, photographers and sculptors selected by international jurists included the well known Orlando favorite, Everett Spruill. Everett best expressed his diversity in Biggie, a colorful collage works that seem to channel Harlem Renaissance artists Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, communicating a unique artistic language through the use of intense color and rich surface textures. The image is further enhanced with African inspired patterns making his pieces a top pick in both corporate and private collections worldwide. Spruill says, “As a self-taught artist my techniques are the result of extensive experimentation. Harmony and contrast are the most important qualities I want to convey.”

Gladiola Sotomayor, is one of the outstanding female artists selected for this year’s exhibition. Her work combined surreal and imaginative elements, incorporating symbolic language communicated during different stages of her life with cannabis as the anchor. Gladiola’s visual narrative on motherhood and women’s empowerment invited viewers into her transformational work which was both abstract and figurative. Gladiola states, “As an artist I am committed with the transformation of the perception of our own Humanity which cannabis is a part of.” Born in Puerto Rico in 1964, she has been an educator for more than 30 years teaching early childhood education to University students which led to her being a recipient of the National Board Certification Award in 2008. Gladiola holds a Masters Degree from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is currently working towards a PhD in History.

Merid Tafesse represented the international reach of ART420 with both selected works and a live art demo where he created a diptych entitled “Heights.” One of the most prolific Ethiopian artists of his generation, he is known as the ‘King of Charcoal’ in Ethiopia where his masterful exploits of the medium create myriad shades of grey, evoking a panacea of emotions from fear and pain to humor and zeal. “My main materials are my fingers…direct contact, I don’t need a transmitter. I am just getting started… .” says Merid. His art has traversed continents and hung with the works of outstanding artists such as Brazil’s Oscar Niemeyer, Portugal’s Paula Rego and African-American Fahamu Pecou and MOMA has selected several of his drawings for their archives. A direct descendant from the Royal Solomonic House of Ethiopia he is a 1998 graduate of Addis Ababa University School of Fine Art and Design and has exhibited in Jerusalem, Paris and Damon Dash’s NYC gallery DD172 and Art of Black during Miami Art Basel amongst many others.

Valerie Clemans, a 2016 Fine Art graduate from the University of Tampa, and one to watch, moved viewers with her seven feet high collage entitled Hippie Chick created from 12 magazines over a period of several weeks. The thoughtful and precise piece was truly outstanding, and showed her intricate attention to detail balanced by her freedom to flow with her subject. The Panama City raised artist also entered a graphite drawing and states, “Many of my works portray what I considers to be 21st century hippies … who celebrate their differences instead of conforming to society’s accepted image and values, while embracing peace, individuality, and nature.”

But the exhibition had several other highlights including yours truly. Though I own and operate D.Y.M.D.C. & ASSOC., a Creative Consulting firm based in Ethiopia, curating several high profile exhibitions for embassies, organization and established artists; flying in from Addis Ababa to co-curate with H.C.C. & the Ranges on Art420 was a treat. The ART420 exhibition is truly More Than Meets The Eye, it is transforming the conversation about cannabis through fine art which depicts rich imagery and depth not typical associated with the culture, while simultaneously introducing the art world to an exciting new genre it never expected to see.

This unique platform for contemporary artists who transcend the stoner art circuit, allows fine artists an opportunity to exhibit work of equal caliber from both emerging and established artists. The (30) artists selected this year represented various age groups, education levels, media and price ranges adding to the success of the landmark exhibition. Organizers, Erik and Tamieka look forward to next year saying, “This year was truly special, the energy we get from the artist and our patrons is incredible, its the fuel that will drive the vision for the 3rd Annual.”

Artist interested in participating in the open artist call for the 3rd Annual ART420 Cannabis Inspired Art Show can find more details at www.artfourtwenty.com. Art collectors and buyers interested in purchasing art can inquire at info@artfourtwenty.com/ 407-490-4207.

 

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