We have great respect for the American glassblowing scene and the artists who populate it. So it's encouraging to see the art world begin to take notice of the quality and craftsmanship that go into the art of making bongs, dab rigs, hand pipes and bubblers.
Leading the charge in the area of hand blown bongs as art is a gallery called Gray Space Art, run by a New Yorker named Benjamin Milstein. The pieces he shows sell for hundreds of thousands of dollar, and his collection features works by noted artists such as Banjo and Phil Siegel and Robert Mickelsen and Calvin Mickle.
Milstein started Grey Space Art in June of 2016 in New York; the launch party was in Italian fashion designer Riccardo Tisci's Soho townhouse. The initial focus was on exhibiting, not selling, the glass works; but then Milstein “got serious” this May; he has since sold about $350,000 in bongs, he said.
Currently he is running a pop up show in Los Angeles, at the Chateau Marmont Hotel (it runs through October 5th). Given the legalization of cannabis at the recreational level in California, and all the energy going toward the movement on the West coats, L.A. seems like the epicenter of this movement, and Milstein has said he has found the attitude in California to be a bit more open than what he has encountered in New York City, thus far. But as legalization spreads that attitude will change.
For now it's encouraging to see glass artists who use bongs and water pipes getting the credit and the price tags their work deserves.
Photo: "Mother Nature's Rifle," by Robert Mickelsen and Calvin Mickle (Grey Space Art)