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Artist of the Year

The Arts Center of Yates County’s Artist of the Year award was established to celebrate that combination of artistic talent and active participation that keeps the Arts Center moving forward.

Congratulations to this year’s winner:

Hannelore Wolcott-Bailey

Hannelore Wolcott Bailey, well known for her many paintings in public and private collections around
Yates County and beyond, had a challenging journey becoming an artist.

At the opening of the 2019 Art Guild Exhibit “Memories” at the Flick Gallery of the Arts Center on
Main Street in Penn Yan, she related the story behind some of her “memories” paintings. She lived outside Berlin, Germany as a young girl, in a family home which was partially destroyed during WWII.

She commuted daily into the city to attend an art school for cartooning, their version of “Disney.” Nightly bombings had begun, and often her morning train had to stop where the tracks were blown away, yet traveled over the rebuilt roadbed by evening. Members of her class had to take turns staying in the building’s attic overnight, burdened with the responsibility of tossing out any incendiary bombs which landed there before they could explode. One morning she arrived at the ashes of what had been her 7-story school and was now the grave of her classmate.

With the end of hostilities, her neighborhood fell under the Russian occupation. At great risk, her family eventually escaped into West Germany and the shelter of relatives. Hannelore found employment in a plastic fabrication company, tending beakers in the lab, doing nothing related to art. One day she took some materials home, painted scenes on them, and presented them as a suggestion of what the company might do. She became the art department, and her work was pressed into placemats and other household items.

In 1950, on a shoestring, Hannelore entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Frankfurt on the Main. A lovely picture of the city along the river is among her paintings. She cleaned houses, modeled clothing, joined a street troop of hucksters selling a miracle soap, even worked a season in a hard labor camp building a railroad in Bosnia. But she was able to pay her way to art school.

In 1952 Hannelore immigrated to the United States, bringing few possessions except her paint brushes. And the rest, as they say, is history. Over the years Hannelore’s style has become recognizable, hanging in Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital, the Yates County Office Building, Lakeside Country Club, and many homes and offices. For years she hosted an annual Art Barn show and sale over July 4th and continues to sell her paintings at the Arts Center’s Flick Gallery. She remains one of the Arts Center’s most popular and recognizable artists.

The Arts Center Board is pleased to recognize Hannelore’s talent and long-time contributions to the local art community by naming her the 2023 Artist of the Year.