Local artists compete for state award

By: Linda Shepard, | Rochester Post | Published October 3, 2017

ROCHESTER HILLS — For the second year in a row, local artist Meredith Lea Bailey is a finalist in the 2017 MI Great Artist online competition.

Bailey’s watercolor study of filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock reflects her passion for a bygone era and for portraiture. “I have always loved the era of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s,” she said. “My aunt was a Rockette in New York. I was always inspired by her and that era, and I started painting from movie stills.”

Watercolor is an unusual medium for a portrait artist, she said.

 Meredith Lea Bailey, of Rochester Hills, with her watercolor painting, “Alfred Hitchcock,” is one of five finalists in the 2017 MI Great Artist competition.

Meredith Lea Bailey, of Rochester Hills, with her watercolor painting, “Alfred Hitchcock,” is one of five finalists in the 2017 MI Great Artist competition.

Image provided by Oakland County

“People think of it for flowers and vases,” she said. “Watercolors are not forgiving. It is a very intentional process. You can’t make a mistake. Once it is on the paper, it is done.”

Bailey, who lives in Rochester Hills, describes herself as self-taught.

“I have never taken a single class for painting,” she said. Her unique style is the result of a process that uses very little paint, but many layers created with tiny brushes.

Her past work has included a dozen CD album covers for jazz guitarist Earl Klugh.

“I pretty much paint faces,” she said. “I’m now working on animal faces for a possible storybook, down the road, of endangered species. I have a passion for the beautiful animals we have in the world.”

Bailey joins two more returning MI Great Artist online competition finalists: Jennifer Whaley, from Rochester Hills; and Michael Bollerud, from Taylor. Margret Grace McDermott, from Clarkston; and Thomas Tunney, from Commerce Township, are also finalists.

“These are supremely talented individuals,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said in a statement about the finalists. “Their skill and passion is evident in the incredible works they’ve created.” 

The five finalists were chosen from 232 artists in Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne counties. Patterson and Albert Scaglione, founder of Park West Gallery, in Southfield, launched the contest in 2012 as a quality-of-life initiative to support up-and-coming artists.

They will announce the winner during a 6 p.m. Oct. 25 reception at Park West Gallery. The MI Great Artist winner will receive a $1,500 cash prize. Four runners-up will each receive a $375 cash prize.

The work of the five finalists will be on display at the gallery Oct. 26-Nov. 2.

Park West Gallery is located at 29469 Northwestern Highway in Southfield. The award ceremony is free and open to the public.

“I encourage everyone to go to Park West Gallery and see these wonderful pieces in person,” Patterson said.