Mike Lynch – Revisited

Mike Lynch

June 19 - July 17, 2021

Mike Lynch – Revisited


One afternoon in the fall of 1983, I looked out the window of the gallery and saw Mike Lynch pedaling up the hill with a package of art strapped to the back of his bike. The package contained several paintings.  Each piece was carefully wrapped in brown paper and tied with string.  The humble packaging belied the extraordinary paintings found inside.

After Mike delivered work, whether for a show or just to supplement the gallery inventory, we would write, call and in more recent years, email a small group of Mike Lynch aficionados to let them know new work had arrived.  Inevitably, within a few days collectors would arrive, and the work would be snapped up and taken home to be enjoyed, admired, and cherished.   Earlier this year one of these Lynch collectors decided that it was time for the paintings they had been enjoying to return to the community to be enjoyed by the next generation of Mike Lynch fans.

In some ways, Mike’s work seems an unlikely candidate for such avid attention.  Grain elevators, railroad tracks, small town bars, quiet streets and industrial sites are usually the places we look beyond.  But these small, often ignored places play big roles in our everyday lives.  Mike paints the places people work, the places people gather, the homes that shelter us and the byways we travel with an eye trained to see and reveal the essential character of our Midwestern world. Mike’s focus on these quiet corners of the world has elevated these humble subjects to the position of architectural and cultural icons.

Much of Mike’s work is created on location and at night.  Whether at dusk, dawn or under the halo of a streetlight, Mike has chosen times where there is no human activity present but implied in every painting is the sense of that these are places where people are only momentarily out of view. His paintings record the moments we pass by without noticing.  Speeding by in your car without seeing the solitary light in the rail yard, you might have looked back and realize it was Mike with his headlamp on painting the grain elevator.

Mikes involvement with Minnesota and our art community has been long and vast. Born and raised in Hibbing, there can be few artists more Minnesotan or more distinguished than Mike Lynch. He attended the Town Hall Art School (Grand Marais Art Colony) in 1954 and 1956 and the Minneapolis School of Art (MCAD) in the late 1950’s. His dedication to making art began early in his life. In a 1953 article in the Duluth News-Tribune titled, Hibbing’s Painting Prodigy Lynch was asked what he plans to do in his future, the 14-year-old Lynch is quoted “Be an artist”. Does he plan to teach? “No. Paint and draw. “How will he make his living? “I’ll sell pictures.”   And that he did. Mike has been exhibiting his work for over 60 years. 1960 marked his first solo show at the Kilbride-Bradley Gallery and his most recent show at Groveland Gallery took place in 2018.  Over the years he showed his work at the Kilbride-Bradley Gallery, Martin Gallery, Stevens Avenue Gallery and since 1979, Groveland Gallery.  Mike has received numerous grants, fellowships and awards throughout his career including from the McKnight Foundation, Bush Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, and in 2003 he was awarded the Distinguished Artist Award from the McKnight Foundation.  His work is included in museum, corporate and private collections throughout the Midwest.  In 2020 his archive was acquired by the Minnesota Historical Society.

For nearly 50 years Mike Lynch and Groveland Gallery have presented Twin Cities art collectors and appreciators a body of work that and reflects and pays tribute to our Minnesota landscape.  I am delighted and honored to offer these remarkable painting to another generation of Mike Lynch aficionados.


Sally Johnson
Director, Groveland Gallery
June 2021