State of the Art

A backyard carriage house in SoPo becomes a by-appointment art gallery.

“My husband, Michael, and I were vacationing at the Harbour Cottage Inn in Southwest Harbor in 2009, and they had this beautiful little carriage house suite. We knew we needed an outbuilding on our property, and we didn’t want it to look like a garage, even though it would be at the head of the driveway. We wanted something that would complement our eighteenth-century home.

“We took pictures and gave them to my stepfather, and he drew the plans. He used to work in construction, and he and my mom have renovated homes throughout my life. He was able to add all the design elements we wanted: a wall of windows at the gable end of the building (instead of the doors one would expect to see) and a cupola up top. Inside, there are four red pine beams that were kind of a last-minute addition. A friend of our builder, Bill Colby, called from Portland Architectural Salvage to say they had gotten their hands on them and maybe they would fit. They were perfect. It just so happens that the beams throughout our house are also red pine, and we’ve slowly been exposing those over the years.

“The carriage house was built in 2010, and for the first decade acted as my workspace. January 2021 is when we started to pursue having some sort of tiny, by-appointment gallery out there. Because it was a blank slate inside, with shiplap plank walls and everything painted in Benjamin Moore’s Seapearl, it was a great space to hang art. Michael crafted built-in cabinets, which we topped with a simple maple countertop from Fat Andy’s Hardwood in Yarmouth. The building is 12 feet by 24 feet, so it influences the way I show art and the way I accept art. Most paintings here are under 40 inches. It feels more like a home than a gallery, which might allow people to envision the art in their own home more easily.

“The long bench seen in this photo was a gift from my parents. They had it in the hallway of the nineteenth-century plantation house that they renovated on the coast of North Carolina. It’s a little piece of history from my family, just an antique they picked up, but it’s filled with memories and has followed me everywhere. It’s always been my studio bench.”

—Meredith Perdue, photographer and owner of the Willard Gallery

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