Company Men
Art Business

Company Men

“My dad has the knowledge, and I have the energy,” Matt Barter says. “Put us together, and we can get a lot done.” Father-son artists Philip and Matt Barter rebuild a factory town. Photographed by Mark Fleming At the Cantown Company Store, salt pork, liters of cola, beans, canned fish, and half-gallons of milk line the shelves. Grabbing a couple of items might set you back several hundred bucks. But that’s because everything on display is art, not food. Matt Barter crafted the groceries from wood, and the store is situated inside his Brunswick gallery, the Barter Art House . The project started as a nostalgia trip. Matt grew up Down East in the ’80s, when small general stores still thrived. “You’d go inside, and it’s this weird tapestry,” he says. “On the same shelf, they might sell Wonder Bread, bait bags, and shotgun shells.” He wanted to evoke a place like Dunbar’s Store in his hometown of Sullivan — a social hub in the heyday of the sardine-canning industry. To complement the installation with paintings and reliefs of fishing and processing and objects that filled a factory worker’s daily life, he teamed up with his dad, Philip Barter. […]

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