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Michigan Water Color Society Signature Exhibition

July 13 - September 24

About the Exhibition

watercolor painting - God's in the Details by Sandy Meyer
God's in the Details, Sandy Meyer

The Stamelos Gallery Center is proud to share the inaugural Michigan Water Color Society Signature Exhibition, guest curated by Rocco Pisto, with the campus and greater community. Forty-two exceptional artists have qualified for their Signature status with MWCS by being juried into at least four annual exhibitions over the last ten to twelve years. Signature members that have also completed a three-year term on the board received a Great Lakes Fellow designation to honor their volunteer service. There are thirteen Great Lakes Fellows exhibiting.

These Signature Members come from all parts of the state. Their work varies from representational to abstract, and everything in between, as each artist shares their distinctive styles and techniques. The remarkable watercolors featured in this exhibition are a sound representation of MWCS membership and the extraordinary artistic talent here in Michigan.

watercolor painting - Slightly Jaded by Patricia Flynn
Slightly Jaded, Patricia Flynn

The society is pleased to hold the first Signature Exhibition in the university’s gallery named for Electra Stamelos. She was a gifted artist, a beloved UM- Dearborn art professor, and a driving force as a MWCS board member for many years. She was selected for the annual exhibition over twenty-four times in her lifetime. Electra and her husband Bill were also important donors and treasured friends of the university for many decades. MWCS hopes to continue this tradition of annual or biennial Signature Exhibitions around the state of Michigan, promoting awareness of the unique and widely varied expressions of water media art.

The Michigan Water Color Society was founded in 1946 by an enthusiastic group of young artists who envisioned an organization to promote the awareness of watercolor in Michigan. Their aim was to further watercolor education and maintain high standards artistically - based on the premise of integrity and professionalism - and to be a forum open to all points of view. The 1940s were an exciting time in the art world, with the rise of abstract expressionism as shown in the work of Jackson Pollack, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Mark Rothko, among others. This infectious enthusiasm for gestural brushstrokes, mark-making, and spontaneity translates well into water media, and became a much-discussed and demonstrated set of techniques at MWCS gatherings and meetings.

watercolor painting - Detroit RenCen at Night by Rocco Pisto
Detroit RenCen at Night, Rocco Pisto

To build the Michigan Water Color Society, a committee of working artists met for months, often lasting late into the evening, to form the policies and a constitution to present to a group of exhibiting painters in our state. The MWCS Founders were Mary Jane Bigler, Wayne Claxton and Helen E. May of Wayne State University; William A. Bostick, Secretary at the D.I.A.; Donald Gooch and Emil Weddige of the University of Michigan; Donald Brackett of Cass Technical High School; Mary Jane Anway; Thad Brykalski of Mason Inc.; and Ernest Scanes and Nelson Welch from the Scarab Club. Except for Ms. May, all these visionaries served on the first Board of Directors.

In addition to this Signature Exhibition, the Michigan Water Color Society has a history of over 75 years advancing water media painting and artists at annual exhibitions. Award-winning travel exhibitions serve communities around the state of Michigan each year. The Society hosts two annual in-person meetings in Spring and Fall; monthly “Art Talk” zoom sessions highlighting specific artists; and multiple opportunities for critiques and workshops throughout the year. The Society also produces an annual exhibition catalog, and a quarterly newsletter. Membership information is available on the Michigan Water Color Society website:

watercolor painting - Dancing Buoys by Mike IngleDancing Buoys, Mike Ingle
watercolor painting - Hostas with Honey Bee Trails by Lori ZurvalecHostas with Honey Bee Trails, Lori Zurvalec


Exhibition Events

Opening Reception
Thursday, July 13, 2023, 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Guest Curator Rocco Pisto will speak at 6:00 p.m.
Reception is free to the public. Complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres provided.


The Stamelos Gallery Center is located on the first floor of the Mardigian Library at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. For more information, see below for contact information. Anyone requiring accommodations under the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact

Featured University Art Collection Piece

Featured collection glass artwork

Taketori Tale, Kyohei Fujita (b. 1921), n.d., Mold blown glass with gold and silver foil inclusions
Gift of Richard and Louise Abrahams, Collection of UM-Dearborn (Adp39), Photograph by Kip Kriigel

World renowned artist Kyohei Fujita was born in Japan in 1921. He is known as the father of Japanese studio glass. Many of his works, including this one, were inspired by early Japanese boxes that were richly decorated with lacquerwork and mother-of-pearl inlays, and traditionally used to store Buddhist writings, jewelry, inkstones and brushes. Fujita's celebrated ornamental glass boxes revive conventional Japanese aesthetics in a contemporary form. This breathtaking piece was mold blown with gold and silver foil inclusions. Whenever asked by collectors what to keep in the boxes, the artist usually stated "You should put your dreams in them."

---Laura Cotton, Art Curator and Gallery Manager

Contact Us

  • Stamelos Gallery Center
  • 1st Floor, Mardigian Library, UM-Dearborn
  • 4901 Evergreen Road, Dearborn, MI 48128
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