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Art and Food, Food and Art, Little Estia's Kitchen - Artist Barbara Thomas & Chef Colin Ambrose, Opening - Sag Harbor NY


Artist Barbara Thomas and Chef Colin Ambrose join talents in an art show at Estia’s Little Kitchen Restaurant

Opening April 11, 4-6pm,
Show on display April 8- June 1, 2015
Estia’s Little Kitchen Restaurant,
1615 Sag Harbor Turnpike, Sag Harbor, NY

Colin Ambrose is owner and chef of Estia’s Little Kitchen Restaurant, which first opened in the early 1990s in Amagansett, NY and now resides, with its own kitchen garden, on the Turnpike just outside of Sag Harbor, NY.  Barbara Thomas has been a painter in the Hamptons since the 1980s, first painting the iconic farm landscapes of the area. She is well known for her commission portraits of gardens, houses, and landscape portraiture, and is most recently painting the flower and vegetable ‘models’ she grows in her own garden projects.

Recently Colin began showing artists in his restaurant. There is a long tradition of artists and restaurateurs collaborating, the most famous being the Colombe d’Or in Saint Paul de Vence, an area of southern France where Picasso, Miro, Chagall, Matisse, and countless other famous names in painting and sculpture spent time, their works becoming part of the collection of the restaurant.  Even in Springs, East Hampton, Jackson Pollock traded a work or two for food from the Springs General Store.

That a restaurant also serves as a gallery makes perfect sense.  Estia’s Little Kitchen is a place where Hamptons residents and visitors to the area can sit and eat a delicious meal of the freshest ingredients--the food has a Mexican flair—and while enjoying their food, can view in a casual way the artists’ work. Certainly more comfortable (and tasty) than an art gallery, more entertaining and thought- provoking than a restaurant with nothing to look at on the walls.

Artist Barbara Thomas has been a nature painter throughout her painting life. Using the East End’s natural surroundings as a background, Barbara has begun to include her gardening into her work. For years she has grown a flower and vegetable garden, and most recently designed a specific garden of giant variety sunflowers as an art project. “The process of creating your ‘model’ from seed, a squash, or a sunflower, and then picking it and bringing it into the studio, studying it closely and painting it, is very similar to the cook growing carrots, pulling them from the ground, and creating a dish out of them,” Barbara says. For both artist and chef, there is an honor expressed toward the forms of nature in doing this. In a recent TV film, Barbara watched chef Eric Ripert on a journey to a Buddhist monastery garden in Korea: “He follows a Buddhist nun around the garden. As she picks each vegetable for her dish, she says ‘thank you’ to it.”

More and more, the food world is paying attention to the sources of its wares, and this is where the art and food worlds intersect. Artists have long used fruits and vegetables, animals, and all the elements of nature as resources and inspirations for their work. Barbara Thomas’s nature painting is influenced by seasons and weather in its subjects and colors.  Colin Ambrose grows as much of the food he cooks as he can, or sources it from neighboring farmers, and therefore its availability, flavor, and plentitude are also directly influenced by seasons and weather.

Together, Barbara Thomas, the artist and Colin Ambrose, the cook, are expressing their creative selves, using the beauty and bounties of nature, to create a feast for eye and mind, and of course, belly!

The Art of Estia's, featured in September 2013: