It started with a conversation about the art world. Peter Treiber Jr. of Treiber Farms and Jonathan Weiskopf of VSOP Projects were working on some rose bushes Weiskopf had given to the farm. “We were talking about some of the more ridiculous sides of the art world, that sort of upper echelon that’s totally inaccessible and kind of just absurd,” said Treiber, who is himself an artist. He brought up Art Basel, the famous international art fair. “And I was talking about how we’re going to farm our basil. And Jonathan was like, ‘Oh, well, we’ll do that next spring.’”
Weiskopf was referring to a now annual collaboration he does with Treiber at the farm. Last year, the focus was on tie dye. This year, it will focus on something that brings their worlds together. “Pete’s an artist and I spend a lot of time on the farm, so there’s a ton of crossover between what we do and our interests and our communities,” Weiskopf said.
That conversation is now a reality with Art Basil: A Food Related Art Exhibition happening this weekend at Treiber Farms. The exhibit, held in the barn with pop-up presentations held outside, explores the intersections of agriculture and art. The featured pieces include a collection of found vases, bowls and containers painted, taken apart, or reconstructed by noted local artists to represent food and agriculture. There are also food-themed paintings, food photography and prints.
Painted rocks — transformed by Brooklyn artist Betty Rubble into containers of slightly crushed tuna, orange juice containers, a salad bowl or a kit kat bar — sit on white podiums.
“I’m very careful at the gallery with my program,” Weiskopf said. “I’m able to be more playful here.”
The focal point is the basil centerpiece — five different types of basil scattered on bright orange, yellow and teal wooden tables put together by Treiber and grown on the farm.
“There’s Genovese, which is just your classic basil type, flowering Thai basil, tulsi basil, aramado and another deep purple one,” Treiber said. He also made various mushroom spore prints and will be doing a presentation of his homemade beet, pumpkin and apple scarp vinegars.
During the weekend, a Balkan Herbal Folklore Medicine Intuitive will give one-on-one readings. Video art from Charlie Chalkin, taking you from basil to pesto, will be playing and projected on the side of the barn at night, a natural dye artist who used indigo grown at Treiber Farms will show off her pieces, antique farm equipment will be on display and farm tours will be available. The farm stand will be open and stocked with asparagus, honey, tomato sauce, pickled jalapenos, herbs, salad mix, arugula and more.
The Art Basil exhibit will be open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Treiber Farms at 38320 County Rd 48, Peconic. Entry is free, but all the artwork will be for sale, with the proceeds benefiting the art and agricultural programs at Treiber and certain projects benefiting CAST.