Arte Bella, located along Tucson’s Historic Fourth Avenue, is one of the first businesses in town to encourage and allow the concept of Bring Your Own Bud — or “BYOB” — and weed-friendly events.
Following the Arizona Proposition 207, Arte Bella owner Jen Christiansen was quick to act on ending the stigma around the use of marijuana and opened her business along Fourth Avenue in early 2021.
The idea began back in 2011, when the original Arte Bella opened at the Park Place Mall, which provided art classes alongside adult beverage options.
Once the use of marijuana became medicinal, Christiansen began implementing a variation of art classes called Buds and Brushes at the 420 Social Club.
These classes focused on the therapeutic benefits of medicinal marijuana and artistic expression.
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Eventually, in 2021, the legalization of weed allowed Christiansen to put all of her ideas into effect and create a location that provides food, live music, special events and various art classes all in addition to the option to smoke pot and drink adult beverages.
Being an Air Force veteran, Christiansen said she has always been an advocate for fighting for what she believes in.
“I want people to experience this everywhere. I want the government to see this is nothing to be afraid of. I’m a fighter and we are ending the stigma,” Christiansen said.
The offered classes include puff and paint, acrylic pour, wine glass painting, wake and bake mimosas and blacklight painting.
Once you purchase your ticket to attend the class of your choice, the paint, canvas, apron and instructions are provided to you.
ILava Kiosks from Downtown Dispensary are also located in the venue which gives customers the opportunity to order recreational or medicinal cannabis of their choice. Within a six-minute walk down the street, you can pick your order at the dispensary.
“You can vape and dab indoors, light fire to flower on our patio, roll up inside or you can even roll up while you are drinking a cocktail,” Christiansen said.
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Due to controversy surrounding this new concept, Christiansen shared how the state has come in on multiple occasions threatening to arrest her and her employees despite their strict legal following of Proposition 207.
“It is scary. I lost about 75% of my employees because it was terrifying even though we are not doing anything illegal,” Christiansen said.
Aside from normalizing the legal use of cannabis, one of the main focuses of Arte Bella is its inclusivity of individuals from all walks of life.
“We don’t want to turn anyone away. Just come here and enjoy yourself, this is a happy place. This is a safe space. This is family,” Christiansen said.
The age demographic of customers ranges from 21 to 99.
Christiansen shared how individuals from the “flower power” generation who fought for the legalization of weed in the 1960s have shed tears when attending, as what they have been fighting for decades has finally happened.
“I want everyone to know that anyone can do this and that it’s very therapeutic. It’s not just for artists. All of us are artists, it’s in us all,” Christiansen said.
To maintain the artistic environment from the front to the back, Christiansen also sat with her bartenders to create eight specialty drinks.
“I took eight of my favorite artists and showed the bartenders their paintings and read them a bio and gave them five minutes to create a recipe,” Christiansen said.
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A few of the drinks include Starry Night, Frida Rita, Pollack Manhattan, Water Lily and the Sisley.
Noah Kitazawa, a management information systems major at the University of Arizona, and Ian Hastings, a finance major, attended the blacklight painting class with a group of their friends.
Kitazawa described the setting as joyful and happy. Although everyone came in groups of their own friends, he said they all felt like acquaintances.
“I’ve never painted something with my friends in a public art studio but I loved it. My art looked terrible, but I still hung it because it was definitely an unforgettable experience for me,” Kitazawa said.
Along with the warm and lively atmosphere, Hastings said he also enjoyed the live music playing on the stage in front of him, the calm lighting, the bar and the staff.
“Having an instructor that slowly goes through the brush strokes made it easy to paint along and get the hang of it,” Hastings said.
Both said they look forward to attending another class in the future and recommended others to go out and experience it for themselves.
Check the Arte Bella website to sign up for art classes and have an unforgettable experience.
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Paint and Puff: Arte Bella on Fourth Avenue works to end the stigma around marijuana use