NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A mural on the side of a pot shop is causing some controversy in the town of Peralta. Some people believe the subject matter depicted is not something kids should see as they pass it every day on the school bus.
The owner says that wasn’t her intention. Others say they like the added color to the landscape. “I almost had a wreck. Cause I was so excited to see somebody doing a mural,” says Joyce Johns, who lives down the road from the new mural and is a former art teacher.
Grandma’s Pot Shop just opened in Peralta last month. The mural was just finished last week. It depicts a frog sitting on a human skull with mushrooms growing around the base, a pixie smoking on a marijuana plant, and other cartoon characters.
Reactions over it have been mixed. “There’s really not any public art much in this county, really. I was just happy to see something that was so bright-looking and interesting and fun,” Johns says.
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“I have no problem with the mural being there as a mural. But what it depicts is less than desirable, especially for the young and even the vulnerable,” says Dale Snelling, who lives in Los Lunas and frequently drives past the location.
Snelling says the mural can be seen from the road from up to a mile away. He has concerns that it can be seen by students on school buses. Snelling says the shop shouldn’t be allowed to advertise the marijuana plant and mushrooms in such a public fashion. “The fact that it kind of looks like a cartoonish-type mural is gonna obviously attract the youth. They’re gonna be drawn towards it, and they’re gonna ask questions,” Snelling says.
However, the owner of Grandma’s Pot Shop, Jackie Ashley, says that is not what they were trying to do. “I’m not trying to reach out to students. I just was trying to get noticed, I guess… To me, I find it all really cool and interesting, and just, I love it. I absolutely love it. I can see where the smoking pixie can be bad. And if that’s too big of a deal, I can make her hold something else. Holding a candle or something, you know?”
Ashley says they’ve only heard positive reactions to the mural until now. “I didn’t hear anybody complain about it. I intentionally left off cause it’s ‘Grandma’s Pot Shop,’ I intentionally left off the ‘pot shop’ so that it didn’t say that,” Ashley says.
Ashley says the negative reaction was unexpected. “It did surprise me cause I hadn’t heard anything bad about the mural at all. But with the business I’m in, I mean, it’s kind of expected to have some. I wasn’t expecting it to go towards the mural,” Ashley said.
“There’s a reason we have walls and blinds for windows. And doors that close. What you do behind those is exactly that: your business. But, when you expose it to the public, especially in such a large presence, then you have to allow for the public to say that it is inappropriate, and you need to think of that,” Snelling says.
Snelling says he doesn’t expect the whole mural to disappear but wants aspects of it changed. “There might need to be some additional statutes or codes written for such things as advertising. I mean, you don’t advertise alcohol on billboards, you don’t advertise tobacco products, so I think this kind of falls under that same category,” Snelling says.
“It was just a brown building, and I wanted to bring some color, so I got a local artist here from Peralta, and we came up with this image,” Ashley says.
The mural and pot shop are both under the jurisdiction of the town of Peralta. A code enforcement officer for the town tells News 13 there isn’t anything currently on the books specifically regulating murals.