His name is Grey – Mr. Grey. Cannabis investor by day and DJ by night, the New York City native’s life took a major turn when he decided to launch a business that no one anticipated. Last summer, he launched Grey Space, an art gallery inspired by two of his greatest passions: art and cannabis. Unlike the bongs you normally see at head shops, Grey Space currently sells luxury versions crafted by glass artisans.

Intelligent, savvy and wise beyond his years, the gallerist is not the stereotype of the average stoner. Packed with an ambition to change the world’s perception of the plant, Mr. Grey (as he prefers to be called) chats with us about his upcoming exhibition at the fabled Chateau Marmont, ending taboos and the future of weed-inspired art.

***

As one of the first gallerists in NYC to feature contemporary glass art, how did you discover it?

It was really my discovery of the medium that led to my opening of a gallery and not the other way around. I was interested in the cannabis world from an investment standpoint, as well as being an advocate for its legalization, and I discovered the art form through attending a cannabis-centric investment summit in Colorado. I had been sat serendipitously next to a bong manufacturer who invited me to his factory, and from there I saw a number of artists making these beautiful and intricate sculptural bongs and I immediately became fascinated. I began collecting and realized that these artists deserved more eyeballs on their work, and that I could be the person to help them with that exposure. Grey Space Art was born from that thought, and it will hopefully be a thought I carry to other mediums as well.

How did Grey Space become the name of your art gallery and what does it represent?

Grey Space represents the middle ground between the underground and the more established [art world]. More directly put it is the vehicle to help emerging mediums make that transition. I realized that across all forms of art, there was no dedicated gallery championing underground mediums, especially functional glass art, and I wanted a name that represented the business model.

Now that cannabis culture is becoming more tolerated in the states, why is it important for you to lift the taboo surrounding it via art?

I believe that cannabis culture still has a long way to go before the stigma is fully gone. Probably by the time I’m a grandparent (and I have no kids..). If I can help advocate for a large facet of the industry and show that is not only thriving but also pushing the boundaries of glass as a medium, then I can truly aid in removing that stigma. An anecdote that really helps me internalize how important lifting the stigma, happened to me when I was 18. I had just begun to find my way in the cannabis industry and had travelled to Colorado for a cannabis investor conference. It was my first time travelling to Denver, which at that point had just become recreationally legal (early 2013), and I was in a thick of early-stage investors eager to learn more about the burgeoning industry. I had walked into the investor conference to see it was not much different than I could have imagined, 60 or so well-dressed individuals, each successful in their respective industries (doctors, lawyers, venture capitalists) speaking to what they believed would happen as legalization settled in. I listened to these investors speak, and then I listened to cannabis companies pitch us on their new start ups. The whole thing was very exciting, and I remember admiring the sheer intelligence of all the people that had gathered in the room with me. They all were optimistic about this new budding industry (in retrospect, very much rightly so), and after the investment summit ended, I remember us all making our way to the roof for drinks... or in this case, for a relaxing puff of a vaporizer supplied by Open Vapes, a sponsor of the summit. So there I was, as an 18-year-old, watching all the people I had just been so impressed by, all partaking in recreational cannabis relaxing after a long day. Immediately I knew that the apprehension, the taboo, and the negativity surrounding the industry needed to be lifted, and it wasn’t until I found the functional glass medium that I knew I could contribute positively.

Lately, you’ve made a name for yourself by showcasing your gallery at NYFW and Coachella. What made you want to pick those events as places to showcase Grey Space?

I try to target people that are already gathering for exciting events. I love contributing to already positive energy. In the case of Coachella, I had also believed that cannabis would be a star after its recent legalization, and I wanted to highlight how it could be presented in a high-end and professional way.

This month, you’re launching a pop-up at the Chateau Marmont. Given its past as the go-to hotspot for musicians and actors, how does the hotel’s heritage tie in with your brand?

I am really excited to be here in Chateau Marmont for my pop-up. Immediately when walking in, one gets this sexy, luxurious, subversive vibe - and it compliments exactly how I’m trying to frame the work. Every pop up I have, I try to give the viewer a different experience. That comes with feeling certain emotions. This pop-up is all about framing the art in the same way that the Chateau has been framed over all these years. I’d give more details, but I don’t want viewers to hold an expectation for what’s to come. I like to always keep it interesting.

Although stoner culture has been around for 50 years, we haven’t really seen its impact in the mainstream art world until Jeffrey Deitch (the former director of MOCA) brought Miley Cyrus to showcase her Dirty Hippie exhibit at Art Basel. Based on this, where do you see the future of cannabis-inspired art?

In speaking directly to the Jeffery Deitch exhibit, I believe that more gallerists will see the inclusion of cannabis in art become less taboo. Hopefully, it is a steady rise, where integration can happen gradually, instead of becoming a large fad and burning out. Outside of Deitch and Miley Cyrus, cannabis-inspired art stands between two parallel paths. One, which continues a gradual slope upwards as cannabis becomes more accepted within the United States and more funding is directed into the industry and the other, that gradient could slope upwards at a much faster rate if the art world begins to accept it as the next artistic wave. Thankfully, both are incredibly positive paths, and I am only excited for what the future holds for the industry.