Living Artfully: Jim and Mary Nelson

Aug 24, 2021 — Nov 13, 2021
Secchia Upper Lobby Gallery

The Grand Rapids Art Museum’s fall fundraising event, Live Artfully, highlights individuals who have left a mark on the vibrant art and diverse culture we enjoy in West Michigan.

This year we honor two couples who share a kinship and passion for art, education, and the environment — Jim and Mary Nelson and Jon and MaryAnn McDonald. The artful lives of each couple are explored in dual exhibitions titled, Living Artfully. A selection of GRAM’s permanent collection works gifted or supported by Jim and Mary Nelson can be seen in the Secchia Upper Lobby Gallery August 24 – November 13, 2021, while several paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints by Jon and MaryAnn McDonald are presented in the first floor East Court August 17 – October 16, 2021.

Both Mary and Jim Nelson come from artful families. Mary Nelson’s father, Peter M. Wege, was a friend and advocate of artists, an active collector, donor of important works to the museum’s collection, and essential supporter of the Grand Rapids Art Museum from 1969 until his passing in 2015. Jim Nelson’s father, Donald Pingree, was himself an artist who painted land and seascapes, and who accompanied his pianist wife on the violin.

Jim and Mary Nelson have continued their family’s legacy as longtime supporters of GRAM’s operations, exhibitions, and education programs. Mary served on the museum’s Board of Trustees from 2002 – 2008 and from 2009 – 2015. In 2016, she was elected an Honorary Lifetime Trustee and she has served on the museum’s Accessions Committee since 2002. 

This selection of eleven works illuminates the various ways Jim and Mary Nelson have been active in building the museum’s collection and represents only a small number of the many works acquired by GRAM through their involvement. Texts accompanying select works reveal the many ways the Nelsons have supported the growth of GRAM’s collection and share the stories behind these important acquisitions.