Brush With Fame

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

One local artist is hoping that many words about his work are positive and directed to one famous lady.

Jerry McClelland is now just one person away from a very famous TV talk show host. This woman is his newest acquaintance and if you look closely you may see some similar resemblances to Oprah. You see Jerry painted a portrait for Venita Lee otherwise known as Oprah's mother.

Jerry describes Oprah’s mother by saying, “She's a very nice lady just like Oprah. She is very nice but quiet. She has a good sense of humor and is very nice to talk with."

The portrait is of her daughter, Oprah's half-sister who died. Friends of Oprah's mother recommended Jerry to complete this work of art. After two months he took his last brush stroke. His complementary Christmas present was only missing a bow, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that Oprah's mother was able to pick up her portrait, so far that's his closest encounter to one of the most powerful women in the world.

Jerry says, "I'd like to meet Oprah to let her know how I feel about her. I think she's a wonderful lady."

But this brush with fame is also putting a spotlight on Jerry and his work.

Jerry tells 23 News, "They want me to be in different shows people have called and congratulated me like I won the lottery or something. I didn't think it would be that big of a deal but everybody seems to love Oprah even more than I ever though."

A blank wall on Riverside Drive in Beloit may be the next place we can all see Jerry's work. Right now he's in discussion with Beloit developer Ken Hendricks to add more artistic beauty to the riverfront. Jerry is also going to illustrate a kids book about divorce for local author, Flora Cousins.


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