Once a sleepy rural village nestled among the lakeside towns that make up Harbor Country, Three Oaks is fast becoming a cultural hub booming with creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Three Oaks' artistic attractions include the Acorn Theater for live performance, the Vickers Theatre for film, several galleries, specialty shops, gourmet dining establishments and even its own independent radio station. Described by the Chicago Tribune as the “Hamptons of the Midwest,” this charming town has become known as the place to be in Harbor Country.
Amongst the mix of those planting the seeds of their dreams in Three Oaks are Bridget and Tad Verdun of Chicago. The Verduns purchased the historic Decker Electric building at 114 N. Elm Street in August of 2004 and opened their art gallery, Studio b., the following April. This nine-month project, which coincided with the couple’s first pregnancy, the Verduns took on an extensive renovation of the building. The work included a complete exterior overhaul, and a gut rehab of the storefront retail space was completed by April 2005, in time for Studio b. to open for Harbor Country’s “Art Attack” weekend and just weeks before the arrival of baby Verdun.
The Verduns now divide their time between Chicago and Three Oaks and open Studio b. for business Friday through Sunday each week, from April through December.
Bridget Verdun, the Principal of Studio b. Gallery is a classically trained graphic designer who studied at Illinois State University and later continued work at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. At a young age Verdun discovered her creative spirit and passion for art. For many years she dreamt of building a career around what she enjoyed best and in 2004 decided to make that a reality. Verdun, who has worked as a graphic designer, director of creative services and business development professional in the advertising industry in Chicago, now divides her time between the city and Three Oaks. She lives and works full-time in Chicago and on weekends manages Studio b. Verdun is quoted as saying, “It's a nice balance, and having the opportunity to maintain a life in both the city and the country is truly living the best of both worlds.”
Verdun is the first to admit that it takes a village and says that she would not have been able to make Studio b. a reality without the help of family and friends. Key support comes from her husband and business partner, Tad Verdun, who handles the finance and operations of the business. As the youngest of 17 children, Tad is familiar with pitching in to get things done and is happy to have a large family of resources to draw from. Though Bridget and Tad do not plan to have a family quite that large, they are the proud parents of Cole Thomas Verdun, born in 2005, and Eloise Rose, born in 2007.
Another major player in the project is Bridget's mother and Studio b. Gallery Director Pam Durkin. Pam, a performer of 30 years, professional chef and self-taught artist is truly the face of Studio b. On many days as Bridget tackles work in Chicago, Pam can be found greeting Studio b. patrons with her inviting smile and magnetic personality.
As for the art at Studio b., Bridget Verdun says, “My vision was to create a space to promote work in various mediums from all over the world and within that provide an atmosphere where anyone could feel comfortable buying art.” That mission was accomplished as Studio b. consists of an eclectic collection of “fine art and fabulous finds,” which includes paintings, photography, sculpture, ceramics, glass, jewelry, textiles, fine greeting cards and more. The Verduns have carefully hand selected work from across the globe, from local Michigan artists to painters from Paris, and offer work in a vast price range that is said to suit the most discriminating buyer.