Christina is a film and video artist currently working as the President aka ‘Chief Alchemist’ at The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto.
What is your morning routine?
My wizened senior special needs pomeranian chihuahua (pommy-wha-wha) gets me up. She and the cats set the wake up time while my partner feigns deep sleep. Morning in the kitchen is definitely like feeding time at sea world: a lot of dancing around and doing the old soft shoe routine until they get breakfast and can get outside.
After that I try to work out – in warmer weather that’s a bike ride by the lake, but now it’s whatever I can motivate myself to do inside – but a lot of times I just have to get going and book it to work. I totally indulge in coffee; it’s super bad for me (too much energy) but it’s the best thing about working with people who are great at making delicious beverages. There’s an “old school” caramelly finish to our espresso. Add steamed organic milk and it makes the best coffee…hard to resist.
Tell us about your career path.
My career path looks like I’m chasing a chicken with its head cut off. I’ve definitely chosen an arts path, but where has it been and where is it going? I honestly don’t know. I studied media arts at OCAD University when it was Ontario College of Art. It led me to video and film, visual arts, design, teaching, graphic design, product design, installation, feature film making, music, performance…and now, running a hotel.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
This is a tough question. I’ve picked a lot of unconventional paths: I was always inspired by DIY culture so I really followed my own path in the industry, drawing much more on my artistic background than on a traditional hospitality background. In a way, my path has shielded me from some of the industry’s pit falls, which are brutal on women and harsh on queer people. There’s a movement afoot to address the threats to marginalized people in the industry. As a business owner who tries to build a work culture that functions within a feminist and anti-oppressive framework, I want to be part of that movement. I think this could be a real time of change.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
If I’m talking about the next generation, I definitely want to kick a brick in the door and let as many people in who might feel marginalized by “the way the game is played.” I focus on trying to create opportunities for queers and young people of colour to break through some of the barriers they face. I would be really happy if I could help accomplish that by setting an example. However, my inkling is that I have a lot more work to do before those opportunities are realized, so I’m trying to learn more about it and check my privilege a bit more.
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
I play a lot of hockey. Also, although my friends are very much outside of the hospitality industry, most of them are still artists so there is no real separation in my art world, and I’m okay with that. I try to still be creative outside of my work on “organizing people and things.” The biggest challenge is making your own work. I do it, but I struggle for sure.
What inspires you?
So much. That is such a huge question…art, performance, music, waterskiing squirrels…basically I am easy to please.
When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?
I would actually like to plead the fifth, and just let you imagine what I get up to behind the curtain.