When We Were Criminals, the first solo exhibition featuring the work of Mel Frank, photographer and pioneer of cannabis botany, is on view at M+B Photo through June 9.
Frank’s 1978 book, Marijuana Grower’s Guide Deluxe – considered the “bible of bud” – launched Frank into the cultural mainstream. Forty years later, Frank remains a legend in the weed industry. Known as the “godfather of marijuana growers,” he’s an in-demand consultant and expert on California’s newly decriminalized plant.
From the start, Frank was unique among his horticultural contemporaries for his love of documenting the process of cultivating marijuana as much as the product it yielded. His photographs have illustrated numerous books and articles over the past 4 decades. And the images have served as the artist’s personal record of guerrilla growers who helped create the seminal varieties that define today’s marijuana.
Frank’s photos provide a record of what growing looked like before cultural acceptance and legalization. “While representing long-ago criminality,” writes the gallery in a statement, “they also represent innocence and optimism.”
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When We Were Criminals
by Mel Frank
Los Angeles, California