North Star BlueScope Steel Commissions Local Artist for Unique Gifts

In November of 2021, a representative of Delta’s North Star BlueScope Steel facility, Kirsten Fruchey, contacted Swanton resident and well-known local artist Nannette Sturtevant for help with a major art project.  The company, which is based in Australia, had contracted for Ms. Sturtevant’s talents many times in the past, when they had her paint landscape portraits of the front of the Delta plant for executives located at their Australian headquarters.  While she had completed a total of 30 portraits over many of the 25 years since the facility was constructed, this new request would prove to be an undertaking like nothing she had ever even attempted before.

North Star asked Nannette to produce 33 10”x20” acrylic framed portraits similar to the ones she had created in the past and complete the project by June of 2022.  The portraits were to be given as gifts during the company’s holiday party in December to all the employees who had worked there all of the 25 years of the facilities existence.  Nannette, a graduate of Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida, was chosen to create these unique works of art because of her skill, talent and well-known reputation as an artist in Northwest Ohio.  Her works can be found in many homes and businesses in the area and at the Fulton County Museum in Wauseon as well.

Ironically, Ms. Sturtevant also had several connections to the steel plant long before she provided that first portrait.  At the time, she was living in Delta when construction began and, as a member of the Delta Chamber of Commerce, had an opportunity to meet some of the North Star executives involved in the construction project.  Her husband Scott helped build the plant while working for Rudolph Libbe Inc. who had been contracted to build the facility and the property on which the plant sits, was purchased from one of Scott’s cousins.

With 33 portraits to complete in just a relatively short time, Nannette had to try a very different strategy to meet the deadline.  Essentially, she employed an “assembly line” method to the process which drastically reduced the set up and prep time for the labor-intensive endeavor.  “I painted the sky, sky, sky, sky and so on,” she said.  “I had enough mixed up and used that color up and then I did the grass and the grass and the grass.  The last part was the steel mill and their sign.  Those tiny letters had to be perfect.”

Because it is impossible to duplicate each brush stroke from one painting to the next, every portrait is different from all the others and all are uniquely special.  Nannette was able to complete the project by the end of May, well ahead of the deadline, allowing several portraits to be given out right away and the rest in December.  Ms. Sturtevant is also a member of the Swanton Fine Arts Committee and enters pieces every year in the Swanton Chamber of Commerce’s Fine Arts Exhibit held at Valleywood Golf Club in October.

Pictured: Nannette Sturtevant with North Star BlueScope Portrait

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