Photo by Alex Reyna
Nestled in a quasi-retail, residential part of Long Beach, Stephen Beyer’s Func.Art Gallery sits on 7th Street, where without walking in one would never feel or experience the level of talent, creativity and artistic energy brewing inside this humble, industrial-style art gallery. The walls are full of various psychedelic artwork, paintings, pictures and decorative posters, but the true magic is the collection of glass pieces in the display cases throughout the gallery—some of most insane, colorful and intricate pieces of glass art are actually fully functioning dab rigs.
“For most of the time, this type of art has been sold through smoke shops and retail outlets,” Beyer told CULTURE. “But in the past couple of years it has risen to the level where it demands a better venue to showcase it, more of an art gallery setting which is what I offer.”
“It’s not everywhere you can walk into a gallery and see pieces of functional glass art worth $50,000 dollars.”
Beyer moved to Orange County from out of state when he was eight years old. He shared with us that art has always been one of his passions. “Just out of high school I had a kid, and ever since I’ve been hustling to raise a family,” he said. “My life plans were altered, and I stayed local and went to an art school for photography.”
Beyer said his interest in photography is where his love and respect for arts of all types blossomed and began to take over his career ambitions. “In the ’90s I worked in the publishing world for a magazine in the hip-hop industry, and from there, my taste in art just grew and grew.”
Beyer has been consuming cannabis for two decades, with beneficial results, but said it is just like a coin. “Like with anything else there is good and bad to anything in life, but it can help, and it has been wonderful in my life, and I think it can help in the creative process,” he said.
Beyer came to opening Func.Art Gallery in Long Beach in 2016, after falling in love with glass art and the culture of the cannabis community. “I found this community of functional glass art and fell in love with the artists, talent, energy and creativity, so I started networking and meeting people, just having fun and building a base, and now—here we are,” he said.
With one look at some of the pieces Beyer displays in the gallery, it is no wonder that the prices will often rise to tens of thousands of dollars. Beyer explained how much time, effort and talent goes into each work of art, which attracts many high-end art collectors to the gallery. Currently, some of Beyer’s featured clients include glassblowers and artists like Banjo, Amani Summerday and Joe Peters, among others. “It’s not everywhere you can walk into a gallery and see pieces of functional glass art worth $50,000 dollars,” he said. “I have relationships with the top glass artists in the world. I show their work in a way that the art demands and respects as well as carrying a lot of contemporary and abstract artwork.”
Beyer considers himself not only a gallery owner, but an artistic purveyor and representative of the artists he works with. “For me with the art, it’s a connection with the deeper level of things,’ he said. “I am not just looking to flip art that is hot to make money. I want to take time and pride for something that is going to someone’s home, into their life.”
Func.Art Gallery, 1740 E. 7th Street, Long Beach