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Michael Connelly

Portrait of a Friend | 61″ x 36″ | Oil on canvas | 1987

Artist Statement

Michael Connelly (1965-1992) .
Michael Connelly was born and raised in Birmingham, MI. He showed an early affinity for art-making, and after graduating high school, studied for a year at the famous Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It was there that he refined his figure painting skills and began concentrating on portrait painting. He returned to the Detroit area and finished his college studies at the Center for Creative Studies (CCS), now the College for Creative Studies. 
While at CCS, Michael was mentored by Russell Keeter, a well known painter who taught anatomy. It was there that Michael honed his style, as seen in this Portrait of a Friend, painted in 1987, just after Michael graduated from CCS.
Following graduation, Michael moved to an artist’s loft in downtown Detroit (before loft living was legal in the city) and continued painting portraits of friends, usually from photographs that he took of his clients.
Michael died of AIDS related complications shortly after his 27th birthday.
-Written by Sharon Zimmerman 

Artwork/s at the following locations:
Hatch Art

MR/QD Is Made Possible BY

Artists stipends made possible by Kresge Arts in Detroit

For details and more info on making a contribution to Mighty Real/Queer Detroit, please contact us at

About MR/QD

Mighty Real/Queer Detroit is an art exhibition in June 2022 devoted to 77 years (1945-2022) of Detroit LGBTQ+ art 

The exhibition presents a month-long historical examination of the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and its longtime allies, featuring established & emerging Detroit artists, as well as artists whose careers were shortened by HIV/AIDS.

Mighty Real/Queer Detroit is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization committed to promoting positive and meaningful images of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through artistic and intellectual means. © 2023. All Rights Reserved.