Oregon artists bring a vibrancy to vibe to on Leafly rolling trays
Oregon, known for its lush trees and loud kush, is an unforgettable landscape of nature and grit. We love Oregon here at Leafly and are so excited to bring you more badass rolling trays from the artists of this great state.
Jax Ko, Jeremy Nichols, and David Rice are three Oregon artists living in Portland and making an impact on the community as they add vibrancy and life to the city’s landscape. I (virtually) sat down with each artist to discuss creating, cannabis and community.
Jax Ko is a rare ray of sunshine. I know this because Ko and I met at 9 a.m. and I never expected to laugh that much that early. Ko describes her art as “maximalism, pastel neons, power-clashing patterns, bold colors, and textures.” It is as cool as it sounds, giving you something more to discover each time you look.
The boldness that Ko herself possesses made me instantly curious to know what her hardest yet most rewarding lesson she’s learned as an artist. Without hesitation, Ko said, “Really valuing your work and being able to advocate for yourself, as in, you know, getting paid, what you deserve to be paid.” That piece of practical wisdom combined with talking to fellow creatives to influence transparency around the process of being a working artist.
Cannabis, however, sometimes plays a smaller role in making her art. Ko likes to use the plant for brainstorming and low-pressure situations, but not so much when she’s trying to get work done. (Been there!) Kofeels lucky to live in a state where there isn’t a stigma around it but loves how art is impacting the femme stoner persona.
“Feminine Stoner energy that, like, I’m really gravitating to,” she explained.
I see that coming up in a lot of artwork these days, rather than being, like, hyper-sexualized females for the male gaze. It really feels like something we’re creating for ourselves and our peers.”
Speaking of peers, Ko has found solace in the creative community of Portland, where there’s an intentionality in communion and centering BIPOC artists. Between that and the many lush trees, Oregon is like no other, in her humble opinion.
Jeremy Nichols has cool ease about him. He’s so cool in fact that he grows weed just to give out to his friends. (That is a GOOD friend!) Nichols’ artwork has a depth and intensity that manages to make sense of the contrast he’s creating on a canvas. I had to know, where does he find his inspiration?
Growing up in Ohio, splitting his time between there and Japan, he grew a love for both city and nature. “I like human designee-stuff mixed with nature and the juxtaposition between the two,” he said. That combined with a love for graffiti is what began to solidify his career as an artist.
Nichols is not a weed smoker like he was in his younger years, but now grows it just for fun. He compares the process of growing to the process of creating art, stating that they are “both meditative and slow.” The green garden that started as one CBD plant grew to two, and now he’s happy to be giving the ganja out to his friends regularly.
I asked Nichols what role that art plays in Oregon specifically, and this question led to more than I could’ve known about the art scene and where it’s going. After sharing an incredible recount of how Portland mural artists reclaimed the city after a corporation tried to come in and squash it, he described the scene as “blossoming pretty quickly and amazingly!”
Nichols recognizes that the pandemic put the city in a tough spot, but it’s now starting to take notice and businesses are now providing opportunities that include more BIPOC artists.
David Rice’s positive vibes are infectious, making his mural entitled “Community Table” even more appealing as you can imagine sitting at a table over fresh food and chatting about art with him. With such a recognizable style, I started off by asking when he made the commitment to pursue art.
With a degree in studio and digital art, Rice knew art was something he wanted to pursue and to be a part of his life. Yet, he was still unsure about “how large or really what aspect I wanted it to be a part of my life; I knew it was definitely a heavy influence on everything.”
After working in digital art, he began to seek something more tangible. RIce socialized with other artists, eventually connecting with mentor Blaine Fontana. Fontana gave him what he describes as his “true education,” taking Rice up on his offer to help with a multi-panel, 100-foot mural. Now, seven years later, the two share a studio space in Portland.
Rice’s path into cannabis was unconventional after realizing the benefits of CBD because he had a pupper in need. He began using CBD tinctures himself for sleep and racing thoughts. Rice is grateful to live in a state where it is legal, opening up the market to create products for those looking for non-intoxicating effects.
When I asked Rice what it means to be an Oregon artist, he replied, “I think to be an artist here in Oregon, it means that we have this awesome backdrop that then can just spill into our psyche and [be] translated onto whatever our canvas is.”
Check out Jax Ko, Jeremy Nichols, and David Rice below! Psssst, Oregon residents, enter for a chance to win one of the amazing rolling trays by these artists.