Paint and Puff: Arte Bella on Fourth Avenue Works to End Stigma Surrounding Marijuana Use


Arte Bella, located along Tucson’s historic Fourth Avenue, is one of the city’s first businesses to encourage and license the concept of Bring Your Own Bud – or “BYOB” – and weed-friendly events.

Following Arizona Proposition 207, Arte Bella owner Jen Christiansen moved quickly to end the stigma surrounding marijuana use and opened her business along Fourth Avenue in early 2021.

The idea started in 2011, when the original Arte Bella opened at Park Place Mall, which offered art classes as well as adult drink options.

Once marijuana use turned medicinal, Christiansen began implementing an art class variant called Buds and Brushes at 420 Social Club.


These courses focused on the therapeutic benefits of medicinal marijuana and artistic expression.

RELATED: Barrio Viejo: Preserving One of Tucson’s Oldest Historic Neighborhoods

Finally, in 2021, legalizing weed allowed Christiansen to put all of his ideas into practice and create a venue that features food, live music, special events, and various art classes, all of it. in addition to the possibility of smoking pot and drinking adult drinks.

As an Air Force veteran, Christiansen said she has always stood up for what she believes in.

“I want people to experience this everywhere. I want the government to understand that there is nothing to fear. I am a fighter and we are ending the stigma, ”Christiansen said.

Classes on offer include blowing and painting, acrylic casting, wine glass painting, waking and cooking mimosas, and black light painting.

Once you have purchased your ticket to attend the course of your choice, the paint, canvas, apron, and instructions are provided to you.

Downtown Dispensary ILava kiosks are also located throughout the venue, giving customers the option of ordering any recreational or medicinal cannabis of their choice. Within a six-minute walk down the street, you can pick up your order at the dispensary.

“You can vape and dab inside, light a fire to bloom on our patio, roll around inside, or even roll around while you drink a cocktail,” Christiansen said.

RELATED: UAMA’s Art of Food Exhibition: Starting Conversations About Awareness and Disconnection

Due to the controversy surrounding this new concept, Christiansen explained how the state has repeatedly intervened by threatening to arrest her and her employees, despite their strict legal compliance with Proposition 207.

“It’s scary. I lost about 75% of my employees because it was scary even though we don’t do anything illegal,” Christiansen said.

In addition to normalizing the legal use of cannabis, one of Arte Bella’s main goals is its inclusion of individuals from all walks of life.

“We don’t want to refuse anyone. Come here and have fun, it’s a happy place. It is a safe space. It’s family, ”Christiansen said.

The age range of clients varies from 21 to 99 years old.

Christiansen explained how individuals of the flower power generation who fought for the legalization of weed in the 1960s shed tears as they watched, because what they have been fighting for decades has finally happened. .

“I want everyone to know that anyone can do this and it’s very therapeutic. It’s not just for artists. We are all artists, it’s in all of us, ”said Christiansen.

To keep the artistic environment from front to back, Christiansen also sat down with her bartenders to create eight specialty drinks.

“I took eight of my favorite artists and showed their paintings to the bartenders, read them a bio and gave them five minutes to create a recipe,” Christiansen said.

RELATED: Around the corner: Adaptogenic Superfoods and Medicinal Mushrooms

Drinks include Starry Night, Frida Rita, Pollack Manhattan, Water Lily, and Sisley.

Noah Kitazawa, a management information systems specialist at the University of Arizona, and Ian Hastings, a finance specialist, attended the blacklight painting class with a group of friends.

Kitazawa described the setting as cheerful and happy. Although each came in groups of their own friends, he said they all felt like acquaintances.

“I never painted anything with my friends in a public art studio, but I loved it. My art looked terrible, but I still hung it up because it was definitely an unforgettable experience for me, ”Kitazawa said.

Besides the warm and lively atmosphere, Hastings said he also enjoyed the live music played on the stage in front of him, the calm lighting, the bar and the staff.

“Having an instructor who slowly goes through the brushstrokes made the painting and the grip easier,” Hastings said.

Both said they looked forward to attending another class in the future and recommended others to go out and experience it for themselves.

Visit the Arte Bella website to sign up for art classes and have an unforgettable experience.

Follow Abbie Kosoc on Twitter


About Author

Comments are closed.