At a Photographer’s Backyard Gallery in SoPo, Art Blooms Indoors and Out

At a Photographer’s Backyard Gallery in SoPo, Art Blooms Indoors and Out

View works in a garden cottage and on the walls of her house and shed.

Meredith Perdue's South Portland backyard features raised beds and a cedar-barrel sauna


From our Summer 2022 issue

During summer open houses at Meredith Perdue’s backyard art gallery, in South Portland, guests can view for-sale works arrayed on the interior and exterior walls of her sky-blue 1750 Cape; inside a matching garden cottage; and on the barn door of a tidy moss-colored shed. While they mull the offerings, they can stroll a pebble path studded with raised beds that leads to a seating area with a firepit and a cedar-barrel sauna, as their kids play in the fenced yard or swing in a hammock strung between a willow and a Norway spruce. The experience at The Willard Gallery is intimate, Perdue says, because, well, so is art — “it’s a window into what inspires us, what excites us, what moves us.”

art by Theresa Drapkin on display in the garden at The Willard Gallery

art by Elizabeth Endres in the Willard Gallery owner Meredith Perdue's South Portland backyard

a gallery wall at The Willard Gallery

ABOVE A pastel still life by Theresa Drapkin and a fanciful oil by Elizabeth Endres decorate Meredith Perdue’s South Portland backyard, which also features raised beds, a cedar barrel sauna, and an airy gallery in a whitewashed garden cottage.

For Perdue, the emotional response was first triggered when she was 11 years old, observing her sister, a promising painter who died tragically in a car crash at age 17, work in her studio. “I love art and I always have since I was little, watching my sister,” says Perdue, who, as a photographer, has long enjoyed promoting artist clients. In May of 2021, she opened her by-appointment art consultancy and gallery, featuring works by nearly two dozen of her favorite painters from Maine and beyond. (The entire catalog is also available online.) Among them: gauzy pastel-colored landscapes by Sorrento’s Claire Cushman, textural still lifes and seascapes by Lubec’s Stephen Dinsmore, and expressive terriers and spaniels by celebrity pet-portrait artist Robert James Clarke. Often, Perdue will bring pieces to area collectors so they can hang them up, live with them for a day, and see if they possess that ineffable element of belonging.

Other clients fall in love right in her backyard. “It’s really amazing to watch someone respond to a painting,” Perdue says. “They stop in their tracks. There’s a gasp or a comment. Inviting people into this space, witnessing their reactions, it’s something really beautiful.”

The Willard Gallery is open by appointment.