McClelland paintings on display in eponymous gallery

Jim McClelland's painting will be on display in the McClelland Art Gallery from now until April 17.

The McClelland Art Gallery has featured many talented artists over the years, both amateur and professional, but now through April 17, the paintings of the nationally-known artist and professor for whom the gallery is named will be on display. 

Jim McClelland’s bird paintings will highlight of the show, along with other depictions of nature. Although he often expands his repertoire beyond the avian, McClelland can’t escape his reputation. “Birds are what people know me for,” he said.

The retired Union College professor of art has been painting since he was in elementary school. He decided to pursue art at the collegiate level after he joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church because he was searching for a way to praise God. “It seemed most natural to give back what He has given me—my art,” he said.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in English and art at Andrews University followed by a master’s degree in counseling, McClelland began to teach. He spent three years in Ohio before relocating to Battle Creek Academy in Michigan where he was a teacher and guidance counselor for seven years. For the last 37 years, he has called Union College home. 

To celebrate his longtime commitment to Union and national recognition as an artist, the college named the art gallery after him. “Usually they don’t name things after somebody until they're dead in case they disgrace themselves later,” joked McClelland. “But I am very honored by this recognition from the school that means so much to me.”

Even in retirement, McClelland continues to teach several classes at Union. Whether explaining the principles of art or employing those same principles, he enjoys the best of both worlds. “I get to hang out with the students and paint,” he said. “Life doesn’t get much better than that.”

All paintings on display is available for purchase. The McClelland Art Gallery is located in the lobby of the Ortner Center on the campus of Union College. The gallery is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.