The Life of Art

Art is an opportunity to analyze and discover new perspectives of the world. To find a deeper meaning in a spring day or unravel the mystical quiet of a dark city street can seem pointless and almost impossible but to the artist that is where the truth resides.

It is the creative mind that rips open the mundane and explores what is inside. As we continue to expand our Women’s Work project we had the pleasure of interviewing talented artist, Christina Bothwell.

With her craft, Christina has been grappling with the idea of spirituality while digging into the concept of our mortal bodies and the force that some call the soul. As a small child, Christina would ponder the depths of our existence. The cycle of life that is all around us which creates a beginning, middle, end, and then back again.

She currently examines this grand concept through sculpture. Using glass, clay, ash, oil paints, and found objects she has brought captivating pieces to life that stun the audience to stop and think. She forces the viewer to see the world differently while simultaneously poking holes in their existence.

I am drawn to the processes of birth, death, and renewal. What lies below the surface fascinates me and I try to capture the qualities of the ‘unseen’ that express the sense of wonder that I feel in my daily existence.

Christina Bothwell

Typically, Christina’s art is often times inspired by quick fleeting dreams. Like a flash of lightning, the brilliant idea illuminates her creativity but rapidly fades to the darkest corners of her mind. When such influence appears she immediately sketches the thoughts for later reference before the image is lost to the thoughts of the day. What is most intriguing about her work is the ability for others to see their own truth. Each sculpture has a tendency to affect all who view them differently.

I do hope to communicate my ideas directly to the audience, but often people bring their own perspective to my work and see something vastly different from what I intended.

Christina Bothwell

But, isn’t that what art is? Creating a piece that you poured your thoughts, passions, and inspirations into. To then release it into the world to grow through interpretation. Unlike the circle of our life, art lives forever.

A cup of Joe

The best part of waking up… Who are we kidding, the only thing getting us up is COFFEE. So many of our morning routines require a cup of java before anything else can be done. The rich scent arouses our senses before the first sip

But how does the delightful brew become the caffeinated fuel running our day to day? It all starts with a tiny seed originally discovered in Ethiopia. There is a lot of skill required to take a simple bean and turn it into a delicious cup of coffee.

We had the chance to work with Leslie Mah, the roaster and head of operations for Sudden Coffee, to represent her field for our project, Women’s Work.  

Leslie Mah

Leslie’s passion for coffee has brewed since she was a child and channeled that interest into a thriving career which is quite a feat in a male-dominated industry. In 2012, “Roast” Magazine conducted a survey that found only 13 percent of professional roasters were female.

“You can’t taste the gender of who roasted the coffee. That always just made me laugh. I don’t taste a cup of coffee and go, ‘Wow. That’s a male perspective’.”

Leslie Mah

Leslie faced many challenges when she first starting her career. However, she quickly began to understand the nuance of being close to the roaster and soon was in sync with the machine.

Soon she became flexible and understood that every coffee has its own personality. A roaster helps the bean express itself through patience and a trained palate. Neither of those traits depends on gender. In 2016 Leslie proved how precise her pallet is with her 2nd place win at the US Cup Tasters Championship.

“I wanna stay in coffee. I wanna be in coffee no matter what. And I want to continue to use my palate and my love of sharing taste with the world. If I could, I would roast forever.”

Leslie Mah

We find that so many times women are denied even the chance to prove their skills. A woman’s inability to lift a 150 lb bag of coffee beans over their head doesn’t prevent them from creating a delightful cup of Joe and Leslie is proving that fact everyday.

Leslie Mah – Women’s Work

Baking with LOVE

They say the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach and if you were armed with Georgetown cupcakes your crushes heart would be in the palm of your hands.

These undisputed delectable treats have tantalized taste buds for over a decade. Sisters and owners, Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Berman, officially opened their doors over a decade ago in Washington, DC on Valentine’s day in 2008.

Georgetown Cupcake – Washington, DC

Since then they have expanded Georgetown Cupcake to six cities, ship cupcakes nationwide, and have developed a cupcake and frosting mix baking line in partnership with Williams Sonoma. With a menu of over 100 different flavors, they now bake over 25,000 cupcakes a day and have over 300 employees across the country.

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Berman

As an addition to our ongoing Women’s Work project we asked the sisters who inspired them to become the cupcake queens they are today. Sophie and Katherine’s love of tiny cakes started early in their lives.

Sophie and Katherine

They spent much of their early childhood with their grandmother, Katherine Ouzas, watching her bake during the holidays and special occasions.

Katherine Ouzas

Not only did they develop their passion for baking from their grandmother but learned the importance of hard work. As a non-english speaking immigrant from Greece, their grandmother created a life in the United States with her husband. She had achieved the American dream and with those skills passed down, Sophie and Katherine had the confidence to follow their dreams.

Love comes in so many forms and places. From their grandmother, Sophie and Katherine learned and experienced the joy that they could bring to others through baking – the notion that something that they made with their own hands could bring happiness to others.  And thatʼs ultimately what their business is about – spreading love, comfort, and joy to others.

How the Gang started 2019

The Crisman team assembled at the Philadelphia International airport only 16 hours after the ball dropped.

The team was off to their first string of shoots for 2019.  Noel, our production coordinator, arranged 7 shoots in 3 cities within 11 days, no big deal.  The team consisted of Chris, Robert, Mike, Noel, and a former team member Jared Castaldi. They were ready to take on the challenge.


This trip to the West Coast was dedicated to our ongoing project, Women’s Work


Their first stop was Las Vegas to meet and photograph four very different women. They had the privilege to meet Desiree Reed-Francois – Athletic Director of University of Nevada – Las Vegas

Abingdon Welch – Pilot
Meena Vohra – Medical Director of Children’s Hospital of Nevada

and Tonya Rhodes – Casino Shift Manager at Mandalay Bay. Each experience was unique and worthy of its own story for another time.


At the end of their time in the city that never sleeps the team partially disbanded. Jared headed back to the East Coast; Mike threw a camera and a fishing pole into his car and hit the road; and Chris, Robert, and Noel drove west kicking dust behind their gear packed Suburban. They were driving to Los Angeles to meet Heidi and Renae Moneymaker – Stuntwomen, 

and Danielle Perez – Standup Comedian.

These two shoots allowed Robert to flex his photo assistant skills. As a producer, he rarely has the opportunity to build a light while on set. Typically he is juggling dozens of tasks and it was nice to be Chris’s photo assistant once again.

“It was like riding a bike.” 

-Robert Luessen

On January 8th Chris and Noel left Robert to fly back to the office. After two full days in LA, they packed their bags once again and were ready to head north to Palo Alto. There they would finally meet up with Mike for the final shoot with the Vice President of Google, Yoky Matsuoka.  They hit the winding roads north of LA and for the first time in days, it didn’t rain. Supposedly it only rains in LA in January… Who knew?

The team’s shoot with Yoky wasn’t scheduled until January 10th. With this bit of downtime, Mike could hunt down more beautiful landscapes. When the team was finally reunited in Palo Alto they were full of stories to share and tales to tell.

Their time at Google was a wonderful opportunity to work with Yoky and see their stunning campus.  Once wrapped the only thing left for them to do was to get on a plane on the 11th at 6:02 AM. This, of course, is a lot easier said than done. Especially when traveling with 7 checked bags filled with gear. They always give themselves enough time for the process. There was the talk of not even sleeping, but in the end, they all caught a couple Z’s. 6:02 AM came quickly and the team was happy to watch the San Francisco skyline drift into the distance as the traveled into the sunrise. They had done it. 7 shoots in 3 cities in 11 days. A great way to start 2019!

 

Gratitude

As we spend the last few days of 2018 in reflection, we view our recent past with great fondness. 2018 has been a year of continued change and growth defined by new challenges. 


All along the path, we have created many memories.

We have traveled all over the land and worked with so many wonderful people. Some long time conspirators and other new faces that we will welcome back to our team when the right time comes.

 No matter where a project took us, each one allowed us to dive further into the depths of creativity and to make each opportunity count.

As we look forward to even greater challenges, our team continues to grow.  This year called for expansion and we were fortunate to have Noel Pattani hop on board.

Noel is currently our production coordinator and we are excited to see how her strengths continue to develop as a part of our team.

 With her help, we have expanded Chris’s personal project, Women’s Work. Her creativity, spirit, and strong values have brought a new sense of life to who we are.

Mike Ryan will be entering his first year as a full-time member in 2019.

It seems like it’s been years, but his commitment and dedication restored a balance to our team as well as helped shape how we get it all done.

To be part of so many projects that pushed our creative limits has been a thrill and a pleasure. As a team of creative people, we require challenges and 2018 has been full of them. From creating a lush garden in studio during December, to traveling to Cape May, NJ to capture an oyster farmer and her crew at sunrise, to working 18 hour days in the scorching summer sun, we will continue to raise the bar on creative productions that bring out the best in everyone who is part of our what we do.  We are grateful for the opportunity to do what we love and to share our passions and strengths with you.

One to 2019 – Our next call time hits in just over 72 hours.

Sugar Rush

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.

But, who are the creators of those delectable treats? It’s not the cheerful St. Nick with a little round belly, that shakes when he laughs like a bowlful of jelly. The magical sweets are created by the Candymaker, also known as a Confectioner. These sugar-rush masters make it difficult to settle our brains for a long winter’s nap. They have the ability to take simple ingredients, the right amount of time and heat to manifest treats we literally dream of!

A career that is fueled by a love of sugar is not meant for everyone. We asked Candymaker, Davina Soondrum aka @misswonka, what inspired her to venture down the path of sweets.

Davina Soondrum aka @misswonka

I could not think of anything more addictive than making others happy by something I created.

Davina Soondrum

She is a self-proclaimed sugar pusher at heart and found inspiration from such icons as Sylvia Weinstock,

Royal Wedding: Sweet Endings with Sylvia Weinstock

Jacques Torres from the PBS show Dessert Circus,

Dessert Circus with Jacques Torres

and Marcel Desaulniers, author of “Death by Chocolate”.

Death by Chocolate

These three idols, however, did not spark the sweet tooth within Davina. They just encourage it. Roald Dahl’s whimsical tale of a young boy and his adventure in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was what excited her passion for confections.

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

This fantastical tale ignited Davina’s imagination and will forever be the catalyst of her career.

I am the maker of music, the dreamer of dreams

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

When we first met Davina she was a candymaker at Shane’s Confectionery but has since then moved on.

Shane Confectionery

Today she creates delightful goodies as the pastry chef at Lacroix while simultaneously working on her pet project called “Hey, Sugar”.  With her personal confectionery circus where she see herself as the ringmaster. “Hey, Sugar” allows her to research and develop chocolate bars, infused cotton candy sugar, hand pulled sugar confections, and gummies. YUMMY!

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There are exciting things to come from Davina and we can’t wait to try all over her tasty treats.

Happy Holidays from the Crisman Team!

When a Fire Starts to Burn

As the California wildfire season comes to the end we look back at one of the most damaging to date. The devastation that ripped through the state did the same to so many of our friends and family and at this point, the destruction from the fires can be seen from space. When thinking about our defense against the out of control havoc most only know of firefighters, but these selfless heroes arrive when damage has already begun. Now with flash floods rampaging through the fire-scarred earth, many are left to wonder what can be done to prevent such massive ruin?

A controlled burn 

It seems like a delicate match and Mary Lata has made a career striking that balance. As a Fire Ecologist Mary’s job is to observe and monitor the Tonto National Forest to decide when a fire should burn or be put out. At times she prescribes controlled burns as a  necessary strategy for the health of the area. 

Yes, sometimes fires are set for the betterment of the environment. Like most of us, Mary too didn’t realize that this was a job she could have until she was working at Badlands National Park as an Interpretive Ranger. It immediately became obvious to her that fire ecology was what she should do. She finds it hard to imagine a life that doesn’t involve working outside with fire and natural lands.

To understand how fires become out of control you must first understand the natural impact they have on the ecosystem. Fires are a necessary part of nature. It’s a disturbance just like flooding, wind-storms, and landslides. Many environments like savannahs and prairies require regular burning to allow many native plant species to germinate, establish, or to reproduce. Wildfire suppression not only limits these plants to thrive but could potentially eliminate them all together. Wildfire prevention also exacerbated the lack of control we have once a fire takes hold.

A natural wildfire will create gaps in the vegetation, which help to contain and not allow them to become massive fires.  So, when we prevent mother nature’s failsafe and allow plant life to grow uncontrolled we give a flame the fuel to thrive. Through controlled burns, we create the ability to limit the damage of fire can do. Mary, like a master chess player, watches over our terrain as if a well played board. Observing and planning her next move.