Joanna Manousis marries heaven and earth in her glassworks, creating imaginative and functional pieces that speak to the beauty of food, nature and everyday living. Besides being an artist, Joanna values cooking good food for family and friends and savoring new flavors. Her and her husband, Zac, create artisanal cocktail glasses and dishware and are based in Clintonville. Intrigued by her glasswork and the few meals we've had together, I caught up with Joanna to learn about her relationship to making food and making art.
Q: What interests you about representing food and nature in an artistic context, particularly in glasswork?
A: I often reappropriate forms from nature in my work, such as fruits and plants, due to their symbology in past histories. Creating readily recognizable motifs of the everyday can act as a universal language that speaks to a mass audience regardless of class, ethnicity, race or gender. I enjoy this open dialogue.
Glass is an incredible material that can be manipulated in ways that defy its association to utilitarian form. I often employ multiple technical strategies in cast, blown and lamp-worked glass in order to recreate natural objects, yet through their changed materiality, placement and relationship to other objects, bring a fresh narrative that often speaks of the human condition, memory and the rhythmic passage of time.
Q: You’re also a cook and a baker. What’s the relationship between making food and making art for you?
A: There are many similarities between the act of casting glass into a mold and baking. Firstly, you start with the raw materials, which are measured precisely. And then with a series of technical guidelines, time, patience and heat you achieve a desired result.
When it comes to healthy eating, Green BEAN Delivery has been an innovator since 2007, using their online platform to deliver mostly local and organic produce and goods to homes across the Midwest. They've expanded that mission with a new wellness program that partners with Columbus businesses to improve the health and wellness of employees. Green BEAN Delivery now drops off employees' orders at participating businesses, sets up opportunities to talk to employees about healthy food options and provides recipes to help employees use the healthy produce they've purchased. Green BEAN Delivery also offers Break Room Bins, in which they provide healthy alternatives to vending machines in the office. Find out more in the following Q&A interview between our student writer Rita Skaff and Green BEAN Delivery's Vice President, John Freeland. —Leah Wolf
Rita Skaff: Why was Green BEAN Delivery started?
John Freeland: Our goal is to make healthy and sustainably grown foods affordable, accessible and convenient to the Midwest communities we serve. By working with a network of local farmers and artisans that have both urban and rural roots, Green BEAN Delivery builds food systems and businesses that address communities' greatest food challenges.
Sarah Fairchild's paintings capture the detail and allure of vegetables in an uncommon way. An Ohio native, Sarah came by painting vegetables honestly—she spent her childhood in the garden, growing and canning food with her mother and grandmother. Yet her technique brings common staples like corn and cauliflower to life with one of the most joyful and unexpected colors—fluorescent pink. Standing in front of one Sarah's works, I'm swallowed up by the brightness of cabbages and how they call to me from the wall like sunlight through an open door. And that made me want to interview her to find out why vegetables, farming and art are so meaningful to her. —CL
Q: What inspired you to start painting vegetables?
A: I grew up following my mother and grandmother through vegetable and flower gardens. It was a true "farm to table" experience. I helped them pull weeds, plant seeds, harvest as well as can and freeze vegetables for the winter. As an adult, I rediscovered my love for plants by noticing the amazing produce at farmers market, walking through my neighborhood alleys and visiting community gardens. I found the vegetables beautiful, alluring and more interesting than the flowers. I knew I wanted to explore these forms in my painting.
Beans are an essential part of the delicious Indian, Provençal and Middle Eastern cuisines, but many home cooks in the United States are hesitant to use them. Eliza Sproat of HnL Enterprises wants to change that. Eliza and her husband developed the Quick-Cook Bean Pot that allows cooks to quickly and easily cook nutritious dried black beans, chickpeas, fava beans and more over the stovetop without overnight soaking. A native of Columbus, Eliza came across the inspiration for the pot in her husband's hometown of Cairo, where bean pots are an essential kitchen item.—Leah Wolf
Leah Wolf: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Eliza Sproat: I gravitate toward good food. In high school, an Indian restaurant opened nearby; as soon as I saw the sign go up, I was determined to work there. I ate Saag Paneer every night. Some time later I ate in a Slavic restaurant. The food was so good that I secured a job there that night. Then, before college, I worked in a Chinese restaurant both to enjoy the cuisine and to practice Chinese. Since 1993 I have pined for the tofu that tasted exactly like the smoked Gouda I learned about in a noodle shop while studying Chinese in Beijing.
When my husband and I were dating while students at OSU, he made a concoction I'd never tried before. It consisted of chopped lettuce and parsley, chopped veggies (the beautiful thing is most any raw vegetable works), oil, lemon, cumin, salt, pepper and fava beans. I was hooked. That was more than twenty years ago. When my husband was invited to share a bit about his culture at a local Boys & Girls Club here in Columbus, he took the same dish and the crowd there was as enthusiastic about it as I was.
With a passion for quality ingredients and an appreciation for entrepreneurs who share their delicious recipes with the world, Steve Barrish is helping to change grocery stores across America, one Luna Burger or frozen pretzel at a time. As Director of Sales and Account Management at Eat Well Distribution, Barrish is a key player in helping Columbus specialty foods producers get their products on shelves nationwide. Read on to learn about how a former promotions manager teams up with retail shops to bring artisan products to our kitchen tables.—Rebecca Wojno
Rebecca Wojno: Tell me about your background and how you went from working in promotions to being Director of Sales and Account Management at Eat Well Distribution?
Steve Barrish: I was hired on as Promotions Manager at PromoWest Productions soon after graduating from Ohio State in 2006 with a B.A. in Strategic Communication. I coordinated the Promotions Department which focused on grassroots and online marketing strategies for more than 400 concerts and live events each year.
In 2010, my wife Carly (who managed the Jeni's scoop shop at the North Market) and I decided volunteer for WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) in New Zealand. For eight months, we did work that ranged from weeding backyard gardens to thinning grape vines to caring for hogs, cattle, and chickens. The experience helped to bridge the gap that so many of us have when it comes to understanding what it takes to grow, raise, and properly prepare our food. It gave us a deep appreciation for whole foods, simple ingredients, gardening, and cooking.
When I returned, I was invited by Jeni's CEO John Lowe to an informal interview. He saw how the trip affected me, that I developed a passion for real food and a better food system, and appointed me the Director of Sales & Account Management with the launch of Eat Well Distribution in January 2012.
Elisa Rosen and her new web business, Jackeez.com, aim to change the way local farmers and artisan producers reach customers. Jackeez.com complements the traditional farmers market audience by giving producers access to national and international customers through an online marketplace. Site vendors offer everything from honey and fruit preserves to artisan cheese and fresh quail eggs—all healthy, high-quality products that represent the pride of the artisans and communities that produce them. —Leah Wolf
Leah Wolf: Tell us a bit about Jackeez.
Elisa Rosen: Jackeez.com began with a conversation I had with my husband and daughters a little less than a year ago. We have a lot of friends who are working and running farms, raising animals right, making artisanal cheese, growing organic produce, making biodynamic honey, foraging, producing beautiful jams, fudge, and the list goes on and on. Most of them are struggling to sell enough of their products to survive full-time at what they're doing because they don't have access to a large enough consumer base and rely only on local customers, which is extremely limiting.
We thought we could give them access to an unlimited amount of customers by building an online marketplace where everyone and anyone who produces artisanal, small-batch foods and related products could sell their products around the country and the world, and gain access to a market that previously only national chain stores could provide.