The Watermill Center and Estia’s Little Kitchen present “Flora II,” an exhibition of new works by artist Piper Bangs.
“Flora II” is a series of intimately scaled oil paintings of wildflowers and cultivated plants that the artist encountered during her visits to The Watermill Center, Quail Hill Farm, and Estia’s Little Kitchen. The exhibition opened at Estia’s Little Kitchen on February 13, and will be on view to the restaurant’s patrons through May 14. All proceeds from the sale of the works will support the artist’s emerging career and The Watermill Center’s mission and programs.
“My first contact with Piper’s work was at a high school group exhibition in San Antonio, Texas; maybe she was 16 years old at the time. Instantly one felt the sensitivity of her line, and I immediately started purchasing works. It would not be going too far to say that Piper is a prodigy in the realm of botanical illustration. Prodigies are not necessarily prodigious; Piper is. Since her initial days at The Watermill Center in the summer of 2022, Piper created an astounding 70 botanical oil paintings… and counting,” said Noah Khoshbin, Curator of The Watermill Center.
“Flora II” builds upon her solo exhibition, “Flora,” presented during The Watermill Center’s 2022 Annual Summer Benefit. Her solo debut featured paintings inspired by the plants and flowers from The Watermill Center’s Clementine Hunter Garden.
During her show, she had the opportunity to meet Chef Colin Ambrose of Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor. Colin has a long-standing relationship with The Watermill Center, particularly as Chef for its Artist’s Table Brunches and Summer Gala Benefit Dinners. They talked at length about Piper’s work and Colin’s rich history of presenting artwork at Estia’s. The conversation eventually segued into a discussion about Estia’s garden and Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, where Colin sources various spices and produce. The natural evolution of their talk blossomed into “Flora II.”
“The exhibition will celebrate each plant’s unique beauty and location,” Piper stated. “Through my meditative painting process, I allow myself an interpretive hand to filter into and throughout each composition. This technique allows for a mixture of naturalism, observation, and improvisation. By using an intimate scale, tranquil background colors, and delicate compositions, I hope to share each plant’s understated dignity with the East End community.”
Piper Bangs is a painter raised in San Antonio, Texas, pursuing her BFA in Drawing and Painting at Laguna College of Art and Design. She lives and works in Laguna Beach, California. She recently received an honorable mention in the AXA Art Prize and a merit award from the National YoungArts Foundation and has exhibited her work in venues such as the National YoungArts Foundation in Miami, the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art in South Korea, the US Department of Education in Washington, D.C., the Pratt Manhattan Gallery in New York City, Axis Gallery in Sacramento, CA, and The Contemporary at Blue Star in San Antonio, TX, among others.
Executive Chef-owner Colin Ambrose opened Estia’s Little Kitchen in Amagansett in 1990 and moved the restaurant, and its vegetable garden, to the Sag Harbor Turnpike location in 1999. Chef Ambrose was one of the founders of the East End slow food movement. Featuring Mexican-American fare, Chef Ambrose grows a good deal of vegetables and herbs for his restaurant and uses Long Island meats and seafood as much as possible. Chef Ambrose is also the host-producer for The American Rivers Tour, where he looks to fellow chefs and locations, exploring new twists on Mexican and American fare along the way.