Occupation: Hamptons artist, married to John Breen and mom of Jack, 6, & Dashiell, 5
Current Residence: East Hampton
KDHamptons: Please share your “Hamptons history”?
Zoe Pennebaker: I have spent most of my summers out on LI since I was born. First Sag Harbor and then when I was 8 we moved from Manhattan to East Hampton. I went to Hampton Day School in Bridgehampton for grade school. I then left East Hampton for Los Angeles after one year of East Hampton High School. But I’ve always returned for the unforgettable summers. And now, my husband and I are raising our boys in East Hampton year-round. Once you’ve fallen in love with the East End of LI it’s forever. Luckily, my husband feels the same way having spent most of his summers here since childhood. We actually met in East Hampton. I can’t think of a better place to be with the long summer days and the bubbly nights of fun! I have never found wider, cleaner beaches during my travels. The beautiful tranquil Fall is such a gift. While winters although long are just as beautiful with the white snow and brown landscapes. I have a dog who forces me out for walks during all seasons…
KDH: Please describe yourself as an artist?
Zoe: I am an abstract painter. The larger the canvas, the happier I am. I paint with acrylic paints. Most of my paintings are full of movement and energy and I hope people can actually feel my paintings as they look at them. I am always experimenting and my motto is “see what happens”. I never plan a painting, if I do I’m never happy with it because it feels and looks too forced. I like to let them unfold…. Most times, painting is like a wonderful puzzle that I am solving. Sometimes I am more successful than others, but I try not to get too fixated on results and just remember to feel enthusiastic and passionate about the process of making art.
KDH: Do you have a painting “uniform”?
Zoe: I wear Dickies pants for painting and when I wear them in public people actually ask to buy them. They are so covered in paint. I love them! When I go out with friends or my husband in the city I really enjoy dressing up. I’m like most girls in that way~ I want to look beautiful and I love fashion. I covet anything by Valentino. I walk by his boutique windows in the city and literally drool. I love a little Roberto Cavalli when I go out, and of course a little Jimmy Choo for that sophisticated sexy look that is so fun!
KDH: You are a Hamptons foodie. Share some of your top spots?
Zoe: I was just recommending Tutto il Giorno in Sag Harbor to friends for their anniversary dinner. I think it is so romantic and cozy like an amazing glass of red wine and the food is delicious. I also love the Pub at the 1770 house. I like cozy. During the day you can always find me at Provisions, a restaurant my sister Linley Pennebaker Whelan actually started in Sag Harbor [the owners who bought it over a decade ago, still offer the same healthy delicious food]. For tacos, I like Cilantros take-out in Sag Harbor and The Red Horse Market where Gennaro is always serving his delicious personal pizzas and The Hampton Market is where I get my steaks for grilling. They have a top-secret rub which I swear by! I love Jack’s in Amagansett for coffee and atmosphere and it’s a great spot to have a business meeting.
KDH: What does your perfect Hamptons day look like?
Zoe: My perfect Hamptons day is actually different with every season, but in the summer it’s a walk in the morning with my King Charles, Jasper and the beach during the afternoon with my boys. I used to be able to spend all day at the beach, but now I feel like there is so much I could be doing, so I usually only stay a couple of hours. I think a nap is an essential part of every day. My Grandmother used to nap everyday, I can’t always fit it in, but when I can it’s a perfect day. My boys play so well together that they can literally play from morning to night with one another making up games together. Growing up, I spent so much time alone and I loved that. My mother was so good at giving me my own space. I believe kids need alone time with nobody but their own amazing imaginations. At least one long walk is an essential part of each day and living out here there are so many beautiful places to walk.That being said, the days spent with my boys and my husband are the best. I believe family time is the time we never regret.
KDH: Do you paint everyday? How do you share your art with your family?
Zoe: In the Fall and off season I paint and work a lot. I love painting; it is very important to me. My studio is in my house so it makes it so easy to get into it. Once in my studio working it is sometimes hard for me to stop. I always want to finish the painting or project I am working on, but with a family and a dog that’s not always possible! The art of balance is one of my daily lessons. If I can’t find time to work on my own art then the boys and I will do drawings or crafts together. Being creative every day is such an important aspect of my life. To give my boys a creative outlet I got them each their own art boxes for their special markers or pencils, and I get each of them their own big pads from the Golden Eagle art store in East Hampton, which they keep under their beds so they always know where to find them. They are so proud of their art books, and its a great way for them to unwind at the end of a long day. I get all of my supplies at the Golden Eagle~ they are all so amazing there. I am probably there four times a week getting supplies for myself and the kids.
KDH: Do you like to entertain at home? Who does the cooking?
Zoe: I love to entertain at my home. I don’t do too many large parties but I love them and put a lot of thought into them. Small parties are such fun too but they can be just as much work as the large ones. I am definitely the griller in the family. I take grilling steaks very seriously and will accept any challenge for a grill-off. Really good food and lots of really good wine are essential for any party. I don’t believe in saving amazing wine. I love opening fantastic wines and enjoying them with friends and family. I get really into giving my kids big birthday parties. My oldest son’s birthday is on Halloween so we like to make it an especially spooky holiday. Every year we get a bit more decorations for our house and a few days before Halloween the boys and I have a blast putting up the decoration together, which is actually the best part!
KDH: If you could invite any three people [dead or alive] to your Hamptons home for dinner, whom would you choose?
Zoe: Only three? That’s so hard because I am fascinated by history, but if I could only have three I would choose those no longer living since that would be truly an exceptional party. First, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald~ and they would be one right? Second, Anita Loos, a movie writer of the 20’s who I so admire for her courage and sense of fun. The third? It’s a total tie between Vermeer and Charlie Chaplin!
KDH: If you could have time to do more of ONE thing~ which would you choose?
Zoe: I would love to travel more, but with kids in school we have to really pick and choose. The only drawback about year-round living here is the airport situation. But we love going to NY for short weekends or the Bahamas and LA for longer vacations. Going to LA is a great family vacation for us. We have so much fun there and its the perfect opposite of East Hampton~ our boys love it!
KDH: How would you describe your Hamptons home? Share a favorite decor detail?
Zoe: Let me just say that my art medium is large, very large abstract paintings so my paintings are leaning everywhere. Comfort is also an important part of my decor, but so is history. Photos of every generation and every relative of my family and extended family are a must in my house. I love old photos of relatives I never knew. It’s like I am bringing them into my life in some way and get to remember them.
KDH: Do you have a favorite Fall purchase yet?
Zoe: Well, I hope my husband/Santa is reading this, because I really want a Bolex Digital film camera for Christmas. I keep checking the website to see if they are available to buy yet. I really enjoy making movies and have recently gotten into making music videos. As for fashion, I am loving my Comptoir Des Cotonniers black jeans. They fit so well and you can wear them out for a big night or casually. They also make you look so skinny!
KDH: If you could own any painting in the world, which would you choose?
Zoe: I dream about owning any Rothko, while Marsden Hartley always makes me step closer and think about his work. I dream of owning any Van Gogh. I’m not picky~ any of his works will do!
KDH: Where can KDHamptons readers view/acquire your paintings?
Zoe: A few of my paintings are currently hanging at the Monika Olko Gallery located in Sag Harbor. She is so cool because, like me, she gets really excited about art, but most of my paintings hang in my home and my friend’s and families homes. If you would like to come see them please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.