In his new solo show, Full Melt, which opens today at the new Los Angeles gallery Maitland Foley, fine artist and self-described hoarder Chris Cascio reflects on his obsessive personality. Growing up, it was Mad magazines and Garbage Pail Kids that got him going, but as as an adult he's found himself perpetually preoccupied with the world of drugs. The obsession stems partly from his own drug use, which includes a heroin addiction he developed while at art school in San Francisco in the late ‘90s (and has since kicked) and, most recently, marijuana.
Cascio—known for his Drug Map paintings of pharmaceutical pills—has shifted his focus to cannabis in the interest of understanding how the names of certain weed strains end up becoming that strain’s identity. As the only drug he still indulges in, he considers the paintings more celebratory than provocative. "I don’t see marijuana in the same way that I see those [pharmaceutical] drugs. So when I was making that first weed painting I was putting in strains that were my favorite strains, making sure that it has more of a connection to my present than to a darker past,” he says.
His work has found an appropriate home in Maitland Foley, a "green-friendly” contemporary art space founded by Rama Mayo and David Wilfert. The duo have tapped Cascio for their inaugural exhibition; the solo show Full Melt features a dozen of Cascio’s drug map paintings done in his signature neo-camouflage style, which “give a nod to both the fashion of street culture” and the “renegade journeymen who take the risk of cultivation to bring the product to market.”
Newcomer Maitland Foley puts a surprising spin on California’s burgeoning weed scene. "I knew from curating shows in the past that I eventually wanted to open a space, but realised that it had to be different than a traditional gallery to make an impact,” explains Wilfert. “So when Rama Mayo presented the opportunity to show art inside an alternative space situated between a marijuana dispensary and a foot massage parlor in the shadow of LACMA on Wilshire, all of the dots began to connect.”
To further emphasise their eye toward experimentation, Maitland Foley has created a highly befitting artist edition to mark the opening of Full Melt. The gallery has worked with the neighboring dispensary, LAVC PRE-ICO, to create a strain of weed called Cascio’s Blue Dream and a matching airtight cannabis container. "We realised that the only piece missing from [Cascio’s] consumption spectrum was the packaging, and reduced his Blue Dream painting to fit onto a canister,” says Wilfert. Special artist-signed editions of the canisters will be available through the gallery, and the dispensary will carry unsigned versions and prints from the show for their customers as well.
Full Melt opens with a reception at Maitland Foley today and will run through June 4, 2016. Maitland Foley is located at 6130 Wilshire Boulevard and is open Wednesday through Saturday 1PM to 5PM, and by appointment.