Your connection to the University of Michigan-Dearborn | Fall 2019

Center Honors Watercolor Artist, Long-loved Faculty Member

New Gallery Center named for former Lecturer

Lecturer Electra Stamelos saw beauty in everything. The roadside views that raced by when riding as a passenger in a car. A messy craft table. A ready-topick cabbage in the garden. Often, the watercolor artist would just paint what she saw, encouraging her students to look for art in their worlds too.

“She had a talent for taking things we see in everyday life and making them interesting and beautiful. She was loved by her students,” said curator Laura Cotton. Stamelos taught at UM-Dearborn from 1980 to 1994. She passed away in 2007. “I didn’t have the chance to meet her, but I felt I knew her because her husband, Bill, a longtime library volunteer and honorary curator, always spoke of her. He wanted to continue what she loved doing — inspiring others through art.” 

Stamelos’ husband worked with the university’s library staff before his 2017 passing to establish the Stamelos Gallery Center. The art space, located on the first floor of Mardigian Library, opened this year. “To have an opportunity to exhibit collections from well-regarded museums and artists, we needed a space that allowed for it,” Cotton said. “Bill knew this and worked to help us create one.” 

The new climate-controlled area is comprised of two galleries, divided by a movable wall. It’s equipped with a museum-quality LED lighting system — the same system used by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Plus, there is a spacious collection storage room. 

“[Electra] had a talent for taking things we see in everyday life and making them interesting and beautiful. She was loved by her students.” — Laura Cotton, curator, Stamelos Gallery Center

In addition to Stamelos’ input on function and design, the family supported the project through a sizable financial contribution and the donation of their art collection, which includes works by Electra. The center’s opening exhibit featured the Stamelos collection.

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