After leaving a life of selling marijuana, Ron Cantrell, also known as “Mr. Funk,” has found the therapeutic escape of selling his art. While battling depression, Cantrell found peace in the never-ending creation of his paintings.
On June 18, a solo pop-up show dedicated to Cantrell and his art called “A Splash of Funk” shared a wide range of good vibes, including a live DJ and food from Elevate Food Truck. Cantrell’s art was also on display inside OT Circus Gallery and was available to purchase, with prices ranging between $60 and $300.
“I try to up the game every time I have a show here,” Cantrell said. “Last time, I was the first person to have a caterer; this year, I have a DJ and the food truck is on the premises instead of out on the street.”
For the past two years, Cantrell has partnered with OT Circus to showcase his artwork.
Victoria Van Dame, the Executive Director of OT Circus, said OT Circus is a non-profit organization that tries to bring awareness of the community creations around Albuquerque. They do this by allowing artists to showcase their art using therapeutic activities and events through a safe, supportive space.
Ever since he picked up the paintbrush two and a half years ago, Cantrell said he has sold over 300 pieces just walking up and down Central. While being the creator of his own work has made an impact on his career, he said his outgoing and social personality has helped him since before he found art as a therapeutic escape.
Although Mr. Funk’s favorite medium is watercolor, this year’s art exhibition showcased 39 pieces of paintings created with expired tattoo ink donations. Cantrell added how every day he hopes to support his local tattoo artists.
The exhibit was free to attend but people had the option to buy one raffle ticket for $5 or five tickets for $20. Four different pieces of artwork were awarded for the raffle and a new winner was announced at the top of every hour during the showcase.
Cantrell said all proceeds will go towards more art supplies and Lily, his one and a half-year-old Great Pyrenees Rottweiler.
“Art is my anti-depressant,” Cantrell said, adding that he always “hustles his ass off” to sell his pieces.
“He’s a perfect example,” Van Dame said. “When OT Circus started we saw an evolution of artists. Their pieces and their attitude towards their art has changed and we’ve seen that progression especially with Ron.”
Van Dame is a University of New Mexico Alumni with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy. She said the sole purpose of OT Circus is to promote peace, inclusion and job capabilities within the community. She added that her goal is to connect more and more people with different places around New Mexico.
OT Circus currently has a program with master’s students who are working on outreach projects, such as support for the Navajo Nation with a specific group home. They have also been working on special cases in places like Clovis and Hobbs.
“The object is to get everybody connected through zoom and get it integrated so that the arts are available and we can have shows like this in small rural and isolated towns so that we all can participate together as one state,” Van Dame said.
Cameron Ward is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @xx_cameo_xx
Daniel Ward is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @wordsofward34