Common Balance: Still Life Paintings by Mike McDonnell

In the early 1980’s, Michigan-based artist Mike McDonnell became enamored with still life arrangements of common household objects. He began by drawing each object individually, then patiently applied multiple glazes of watercolor paint to achieve rich color and the illusion of realism. This selection of work, from 1982-2009, illustrates how McDonnell strived to idealize common objects in balanced and unique groupings.

Grand Valley State University began acquiring Mike McDonnell’s artwork in 2013 with an initial gift from the artist’s wife, Karen McDonnell. In the years following this gift, his body of work was expanded and developed through additional gifts of paintings, as well as an archival collection of artist’s correspondence, photographs and related material. This is the first exhibition of his work at GVSU, drawn from the over 800 paintings in the permanent collection. View additional works from McDonnell in the Art Gallery's online collection.

Still Life of cleaning bottle and two jugs

Mike McDonnell, Paper Lace, 1986, watercolor on paper, Gift of the Karen McDonnell Estate, 2015.77.37

Location and Hours

Russel H. Kirkhoff Center Gallery
Russel H. Kirkhof Center
1. North Campus Dr.
Allendale, MI 49401

July 13 - October 26, 2018

Gallery hours are reflective of L.V. Eberhard Center, including changes made due to semester, holiday, or campus-wide event.


For special accommodation, please call:

For exhibition details and media inquires, please email:
Joel Zwart, Curator of Exhibitions

For learning and engagement opportunities, please email:
Stacey Burns, Programs Manager


Page last modified September 12, 2018