Playing with Food: Q & A with Brent Ridge

October 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Brent Ridge (right), taken from edgeonthenet.com

Real, leafy vegetables replaced still lifes a month ago at “The Art of Farming.” At Sotheby’s, clients bid on visits to greenmarkets and beehives, crates of heirloom vegetables, and other foodie services at the ground-breaking event hosted by the prestigious auction house. Who would have thought art and heirloom vegetables would pair so well? Farmer, entrepreneur, and star of Discovery reality TV show, “The Fabulous Beekman Boys”, Brent Ridge, 37, dreamt up this tasty occasion and took a few minutes to talk from his farm, Beekman 1802 in the Hudson Valley.

Q: How did you get involved with “The Art of Farming?”

A: I was at a birthday party and sat down on the couch next to someone and was just talking about heirloom vegetables. She had no idea that there were heirloom varieties beyond the tomatoes – there are heirloom cucumbers and heirloom carrots and heirloom every vegetable. After talking about that for a while, I asked her what she did and she said “Oh, I’m the head of marketing at Sotheby’s.” And I said, “Wouldn’t it be really cool to auction heirloom vegetables at Sotheby’s and educate more people about the heirloom varieties?” That’s really how it started.

Q: How did you make the connection from greenmarket food to art auction house?

A: Well, each heirloom vegetable has its own provenance, its own history – for instance, from where it came, where it went, and who’s growing it now. It’s just like a great work of art that has its own provenance where you can trace its ownership throughout history.

Q: Why did you want to partner with Sotheby’s? Why not a museum or botanical garden?

A: We wanted to raise as much awareness as possible. One of the ways that you do that is to create unlikely partnerships. If we had gone to somewhere like a botanical garden or a nursery or a park, it would have been much more expected. Sometimes, you need the unexpected to make people pay attention.

Q: Do you think this event, fusing art and food, could have been successful 5 years ago? 10 years ago? Why or why not?

A: I think it could have been thought about, but I don’t think if there would have the zeitgeist to propel it to the level that it reached this year. For so long, we didn’t think about food. It was just something we ate mindlessly. But, I think more and more people are becoming more interested in, not only in the taste of food or how to prepare and cook food, but also the quality of food.

Q: Just a final question – do you like still life?

A: Oh, absolutely.

Q: Who are your favorite artists?

A: There was a wonderful artist who participated in the auction. Her name was Paulette Tavormina. She does these amazing photographs of vegetables and fruit that are in the style of Old Masters painting and it just really captures the beauty of the vegetable.

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