Say It In Art: The Bourgeois Pig in Casper Holding Art Show to Protest Marijuana Prohibition
Walking through the doors of The Bourgeois Pig, you're greeted by smiling baristas and the smell of various baked goods and caffeinated beverages. Once you order your drink, you walk a little further and can choose to sit at a table or in one of the old-timey chairs or couches.
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There's a wide-array of art adorning the walls. Walk a little further, and you'll come into the 'Alley Gallery;' a small hallway that always features local art. This hallway serves as a gallery, as a backstage area during various live shows the Bougee Pig puts on, and more. It's one of the highlights of the entire cafe.
But it's more than just a place to display art. It's a place to make statements, and that's exactly what owner Josh Tinnell is hoping to do with his current Call to Artists for an art show that will protest the prohibition of marijuana in Wyoming.
In August, Wyoming's Attorney General issued ballot summaries for proposed initiatives that would both legalize medical marijuana and would decriminalize marijuana possession. Advocates for the initiatives provided the 100 signatures needed for the measures to be added to the ballot summaries.
Now, 41,776 signatures from registered Wyoming voters are required, per measure, for the measures to qualify for the November 2022 ballot.
According to Marijuana Moment, the summary of the language that the Attorney General's office approved, from Wyoming NORML, is this:
Wyoming Patient Cannabis Act of 2022
“Shall a law be enacted authorizing the Wyoming Liquor Division to regulate the cultivation, sale, and use of medical marijuana for medical treatment?”
Wyoming Cannabis Amendments
“Shall a law be enacted to reduce criminal penalties for the cultivation, possession, use, and transfer of marijuana?”
It's a big step towards marijuana legalization in Wyoming, and Josh Tinnell wants to do everything in his power to help move the bill forward.
"It's a topic I've always been pretty outspoken about," Tinnell stated. "Wyoming finally has a chance to get these issues on the ballot, but I noticed that it seems like we're a little behind on the signatures and I figured this might be a good, creative way to kind of spark some interest and get a few more signatures on the ballot."
Currently, there are signs posted throughout the 'Alley Gallery' that call on artists to 'Say It In Art.'
"Do you have something you want to say about the prohibition of marijuana?" the signs ask. "The Alley Gallery is hosting an art exhibit on the topics of Decriminalization and Legalization of marijuana and we're looking for artists who want to contribute to the show."
Tinnell said that the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana wouldn't just benefit users; it would benefit the state as a whole, as well.
"We tend to be fiscally conservative in Wyoming," he said. "And 9 times out of 10, when I have conversations with people about the tax windfall, especially in a state where people don't want to raise taxes, this is a great way to get tax revenue generated without raising personal taxes or taxes in general."
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) reports that neighboring Colorado generated more than $135.1 million in taxes and fees in 2015, which certainly seems to suggest that Wyoming's economy would absolutely benefit from marijuana taxes.
Tinnell said that that there's currently no submission deadline, but he does hope to put on the show sometime in February of 2022.
The Bourgeois Pig prides itself on being a coffee shop that does more than just serve hot beverages and baked goods. It hosts events like burlesque shows and dance parties, it partners with Casper Pride with a number of different events, and it hosts art that isn't afraid to show a little skin.
"When it comes to statement art, there's not a lot of places to host it in town," Tinnell said. "Most places aren't really rocking the boat a whole lot. And the idea of when I started the business in general was that it would be a place that rocks the boat just a little bit. So I just figured I was in a position where I could do it and it's not so much about money for me. I'm willing to take a little bit of a risk."
And it is a risk showcasing this type of art, or making these types of statements. Especially in generally conservative states like Wyoming. But Tinnell wants to provide artists a safe space to display their art and tell their stories, and if that means he loses a customer or two, so be it.
Part of owning your own business is being able to do whatever you want to do.
"Part of the reason I'm doing this is for the initiative itself," Tinnell said. "So whether you come down to view the art or not, get out there and sign the ballot. Put some thought into it. Even if you're not a pro-marijuana person, there's an awful lot of benefit to decriminalizing or legalizing it. In the state of Wyoming, where our population is so small, there are so many tourists that come through the state and the sheer amount of money that can be generated [from marijuana sales] is pretty hard to argue with. We're running out of reasons not to do it."
For more information on how to submit your art, you can visit the Facebook page of The Bourgeois Pig or you can call 307-337-2PIG.