Farmers get 15 minutes of fame at arts-focused ‘Harvest Festival’

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Across the region, the Hudson Valley sees a multitude of spaces where art and agriculture are explored as one. Perhaps the most obvious site combining the two “disciplines” is the newly opened Barns Art Center on the former IBM East Fishkill campus.

Its mission is to highlight “art and artists in dialogue with food, agriculture, ecology and sustainability”. And to christen the space, which officially opened in August, the gallery connects its mix of art and agriculture with a harvest festival on October 9-10.

Sure, there will be squash, pumpkins, and other signals of the fall season, but it’s not a hokey corral with corn mazes and apples. Let no one forget, the harvest festival has been, in all cultures, a religious, even superstitious, ritual of harvesting bounty before the onset of winter.

This interaction between the earth and everything it produces will be on view this weekend, which doubles as a coming-out evening for the budding artistic pole. The programming dialect includes a food market hosted by the River Valley Guild, a musical groundbreaking ceremony, a mushroom painting and the premiere of “Lost Arts” a film series featuring 10 Hudson Valley farmers doing extraordinary work for food, agriculture , ecology and social justice.

Many farmers are from well-known institutions, like Jack Algiere from Stone Barns Center and Ken Greene from the Hudson Valley Seed Company, while some are new names to watch, like Karen Washington from Rise & Root or Jalal Sabur from Sweet. Freedom. Cultivate.

Each film in the series, designed and created by the Barns Art Center and produced with the Northguild studio, based in Kingston, is a kind of portrait, in which every farmer has the opportunity to share their stories, wisdom and advice. a way that gallery director / chief curator Tara Dublow says “is immersive, really beautiful and enjoyable. It’s not a Netflix documentary that’s going to get me down.

“Lost Arts” will be screened in the three-screen cinema space in the center which can only accommodate ten people (masked, of course). It was designed this way for privacy and total immersion. The project combines a celebration of the Hudson Valley landscape and a platform for solutions to the challenges of our climate, agriculture and food justice.

During the Harvest Festival at the Barns Art Center, visitors can also view its current exhibit “Tasting Menu,” which examines food through an aesthetic lens. Pictured is Dana Sherwood’s food cart, a version she once placed in a tropical reserve in Brazil and filmed wild animals feasting on it.

Barn Art Center

Every farmer, says Dablow, “does the job that we all need to know. They spend their lives working with the land, and they know how we can make it right. “

In Karen Washington’s film, for example, she describes agriculture as a kind of social conscience: “A place where we have been honored to take care of ourselves, to be stewards of the land and to honor ancestors. before us.

Just like food that is deeply linked to community, so too is dialogue.

“We want to engage the public in a more meaningful way than they maybe would at his Sunday Farmer’s Market, where they just have a retail experience and then walk away,” says Dalbow. Barns allows him to “facilitate conversation, and if what we need to do is create space for these conversations, that’s how it starts.”

But it’s not all gossip. The opening will also include hands-on experiences.


An impressive interactive artwork from the internationally renowned art collective FutureFarmers will be previewed at the event. Called “Furrows and lands in harps”, it is made up of three spaces: a bakery (to make bread for everyone), a meeting space and a musical space.

It is in this last space that we will find the “mother stone” of the project, a 5-foot rotary instrument made of recycled grindstones, designed by Michael Swaine of FutureFarmer.

Dalbow felt that it was essential to have “a larger, more permanent piece with longevity to anchor the center”, and so each year a new composer will be invited to burn a score in a new set of grinding wheels, to “Play” on the mother stone. On Saturday, between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. during the Fête des Vendanges, its first performance will be part of the inauguration ceremony.

“I believe art has the ability to catalyze community and economic development,” says Dalbow. “We’ve all seen what Dia has done for Beacon.”

As a new generation reshapes the region, these cities, says Dalbow, “are facing a resurgence and a re-imagining, and a lot of that happens through art and culture.”

The Harvest Festival takes place this weekend, October 9-10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days. Pre-registration is required for free film screenings, as well as discussions with farmers and workshops like a marzipan art class. The Barns Art Center is located at 736 South Dr, Hopewell Junction, NY 12533

Hudson Valley Art, Music and Culture




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