Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Colorado Flower: Infusing local cannabis culture with Dutch Girl photo perspective

April 30, 2019, 9:30 am
Esther Brans (photo by Tumbleweed’s Valerie N. Vazquez),

Editor’s note: A version of this story first appeared in the Vail Daily:

Though she’s lived in Colorado for many years, originally moving here to study at the University of Denver, EagleVail’s Esther Brans is still deeply connected to her native Netherlands. Dutch culture infuses much of what she does as a photographer, artist and creative product inspiration at the chain of retail and medical marijuana stores her husband Daniel founded – Tumbleweed.

Brans’ gorgeously photographed 2018 coffee-table book “Colorado Flower” draws on inspiration from the master painters of the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age, who specialized in still-life realism. But the book has a modern edge and a pioneering twist that, instead of bowls of fruit, features aggressive-looking marijuana plants intertwined with brilliantly colored flowers.

The buds and leaves of various strains of sativa and Indica are overlaid on spectacular orchids, roses, daffodils, delphiniums and that omnipresent Dutch treasure, the tulip, which was the bitcoin of the 1600s until it crashed in the great Tulip Mania (Tulpenwindhandel) bubble of 1637. Colorado’s modern marijuana industry has much greater staying power, Brans says.

A former fashion model, Brans inspired Tumbleweed’s Dutch Girl and Nordic Goddess product lines, which include the award-winning, infused Dutch Girl Stroopwafels. A Dutch street treat and staple of coffeeshops, markets and fairs, stroopwafels (syrup waffles) came to Colorado in cannabis form after Daniel first tasted them at their wedding on a beach in Holland. Dutch Girl Stroopwafels recently won Westword’s Best of Denver, Best Edibles Company.

But there’s something else Brans, a world traveler who speaks five languages, would like to import to the United States from the Netherlands – and that’s the Dutch attitude of laissez faire, or hands-off acceptance of cannabis. During her childhood, growing up in a suburb of Rotterdam, Brans said cannabis culture was centered more on the capital city of Amsterdam.

“So it was more something that you just knew was out there and it wasn’t super-mainstream when I grew up, and now it is, but nobody made a huge deal out of it,” Brans said. “And there’s not the same stigma attached with it [in Holland], and here there is.”

Brans hopes her book has a normalizing effect, with more people in Colorado becoming comfortable displaying “Colorado Flower” on the coffee tables of their ski homes the way cannabis is casually and comfortably consumed in the coffee shops of the Netherlands.

“It’s already undergone a huge shift,” Brans said of Colorado’s marijuana industry since legalization in 2012. “And back then it had much more of a stigma, much, much more. But that’s really kind of smoothed over, so I do think people are becoming way more accepting of it.”

Still, she notes that alcohol in America is still far more socially acceptable and celebrated at bars and restaurants up and down Bridge Street in Vail Village while marijuana stores, including Tumbleweed’s medical shop, are relegated to the U.S. Highway 6 “Green Mile” in EagleVail. Tumbleweed also has a prominent retail store in “downtown” Edwards, but both Avon and Vail have declined to allow both medical and retail marijuana sales.

For Brans, it’s just a matter of time until the plant she loves to painstakingly photograph comes fully out of the shadows and is properly recognized for its medicinal, mood-altering, aesthetic and artistic value. She’s certain a book like “Colorado Flower” can only help.

The project took her years to compile, and it’s noteworthy that the only Photoshopping involved was to clean up the backgrounds to make them white. The delicate plant compositions are portrayed exactly as they were – often in tough conditions with poor lighting in a grow facility. Because of Colorado law, pot plants can’t be removed from the various grow facilities.

“If you shoot in a studio, you keep your circumstances exactly the same, so then you have a formula and all your photos are done consistently,” Brans said. “But if you shoot on location and the light’s constantly different, you might get a light blue background, you might get more red backgrounds, and that just doesn’t look good.”

The first photo included roses for Valentine’s Day, and the project grew from there to three dozen dazzling compositions that are sometimes startling, sometimes soothing.

“The book, I’m very proud of. It’s truly a labor of love and a passion,” said Brans, who has also photographed wildlife and landscapes from Central America to Antarctica. “I loved Antarctica; I felt so blessed to be there and it was amazing, but … it’s been photographed to death. No one’s done this, so I feel incredibly lucky to be pioneer.”

Colorado Flower is available at all seven Tumbleweed stores from Parachute to Frisco, Bloom in downtown Denver and Cherry Creek, Happy Canyon Flowers in Littleton and online at dutchgirlart.com.

The following two tabs change content below.

David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *