Exposed: Smoke Ring Art

August 13, 2021
Exposed: Smoke Ring Art

Smoke Ring Art is a collaboration between Chris Robinson Brotherhood/Marcus King tour manager Brian Sarkin and photographer Stuart Levine. As Sarkin recalls, “I originally had this idea in the early 2000s while sitting at home smoking a joint. The idea was born after I blew a smoke ring and it broke apart in front of me into an image that resembled Jerry Garcia. But I had no idea how to capture the moment a smoke ring becomes art until I met Stu on CRB tour years later. When I returned from The Marcus King Band’s European run in mid-March 2020, the industry I had been a part of my whole life was put on hold. So I called Stu and said, ‘The only excuse we’ve ever had for not getting our art out into the world was time. And, now, we finally have that time.’” During the ensuing months, the longtime friends completed a series of limited-edition original works, which are now available for purchase.

Levine adds: “It took us a little while to dial in the lighting so that we could capture these images correctly. After many tries, we came up with a great system that allows us to view these images as they appear from the smoke rings. Printing on metal was an idea that I had to contrast the smoke with the deep black color of these backgrounds. And that has really helped to bring out the contrast.”

Sarkin and Levine with 40”x40” & 40”x20” pieces.  All their works are intentionally unnamed to allow the viewer to interpret the art without bias.

The orientation of the art changes the way people see it. This piece, for instance, was rotated 90 degrees to reveal what resembles a seahorse. The 3/4” inset frame system attached on the back of each piece allows the art to be easily mounted and rotated to the individual’s liking. 

Another untitled original work which, like all of the pieces, is signed and numbered by Sarkin and Levine.

Sarkin with John Menzies, who owns Durango’s Prohibition Herb. All 15 pieces in the collection are currently on display at the dispensary.

Sarkin and Levine note that “this piece is a great example of the depth the art has. New details emerge every time this piece is viewed, giving the impression that what was seen in the past may be different today.”