In the Denver valley of downtown in a little shop sitting down by the corner of 3rd Street and Broadway I shuffled back and forth through a gallery of high end bongs. A man who held an earnest countenance and passion for the practice and art of bongs and bong making was walking in a frantic behind the display counters of Illuzions Glass. As he walked toward me from behind the counter a worn look of expression came as he greeted me. He looked distressed either from my unannounced drop in, or by the managing this gallery of bongs which are worth an extraordinary sum—which doesn’t hit you till you start to take a close look and say, wah, that’s nice… all the while a small placard lists this Deppe piece of an Alien sitting on a throne for a million dollars…then a transfiguration occurs. All throughout the gallery there were spaceship bongs, bongs of alien creatures with fleshy human eyes, rayguns, demons, and motorcycles.
When I asked, “who pays for these…say a million dollars for a bong?” He replied, “people in the industry, trust fund kids, people that can afford to spend a few dimes.” In an instant thoughts in waves flowed in of trust fund kids taking up a superficial sacrament of maui waui, loading the grinded bud into the downstem of cerulean alien skull head, he’d narrow his bloodshot eyes and hit the million dollar bong then warm flash existential thoughts would ensue on why he’d bought the Deppe piece. However if you ever found yourself at Illuzions glass chances are your best bet is in affording a bong not a bong sculpted as art.
The cannabis industry has made leaps in the public sphere. A once fringe and criminalized group of artists in small pockets across the country the likes of which in Eugene, Oregon, have come full circle into public acceptance with an artform that serves as both form and function.