Catbird Seat...Stamps of ApprovalIf you’ve been fishing any time during the last, say, 12 years or so, you might already be familiar with the art work of Big Lake’s Stuart Nelson.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
If you’ve been fishing any time during the last, say, 12 years or so, you might already be familiar with the art work of Big Lake’s Stuart Nelson.
The longtime paper mill worker has always been known as a wildlife artist, but two big breakthroughs in recent years have made Nelson’s art work even more eye-catching.
In 1999, after many years of effort, Nelson won the Minnesota Trout Stamp contest by picturing a brook trout. Last year, he won the Minnesota Walleye Stamp contest as well.
“It’s great,” Nelson said of his awards. “Lots of artists will enter the contests and win more than once. Once I win one, I don’t want to enter again.”
The contest rules are designed to encourage artists in general. Once an artist wins the competition, he or she can’t enter again for two years, and a repeat winner can’t enter again for four years.
So while Nelson is serving an enforced two-year hiatus from the walleye stamp, he’s turning to other work to keep himself busy.
Nelson has been approached by many different groups looking for donated artwork, and he’s happy to oblige if the cause is right.
One cause that caught his eye was the annual ALS walleye tournament on Island Lake. Looking to help, Nelson donated one of his prints which was signed by former Minnesota Twin Kent Hrbek, former Minnesota Gopher and Wild player Darby Hendrickson and former UMD and Pittsburgh Penguin defenseman Jim Johnson, for auction.
He has also had prints signed by Derek Plante and Jamie Langenbrunner auctioned as well.
“We used three of [the signed prints] last year, for the silent auction they had,” Nelson said.
Nelson has also donated prints signed by Al, Ron and Jim Lindner, in auctions for veterans’ organizations.
He has also donated prints to help raise money for the “Honor Flight,” which sends World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the national World War II memorial.
As a result, Nelson – who mats and frames his own artwork in addition to selling it – is quite busy these days.
Now Nelson is working with the Lindners on another project important to him – the Minnesota Fishing Challenge, held June 2 on Gull Lake. The event benefits Minnesota Teen Challenge, a faith-based drug and alcohol treatment program that produces impressive results.
“I met Al Lindner after I won the walleye stamp,” Nelson said. “He’s the spokesperson for the DNR, which promotes it. He asked me to enter his fishing contest, the Minnesota Challenge on Gull Lake.”
Since then, Nelson has learned more about Teen Challenge and its mission.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “The faith-based part of that organization and the testimonies of people who turned their lives around, it’s just great to support that. It seems like everyone knows someone who has been there. People are generous and we hope they support the event.”
Nelson produced 500 copies of his walleye stamp and 300 copies of his trout stamp, which can be seen on his website at www.stuartnelsonart.com.
“I’ve had a lot of success with my art over the years, but donating it, well, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Nelson said. “I’ve been hit up for a lot of them.”
When he’s not donating or selling art, Nelson has his eye on his next artistic target.
“I want to do the pheasant stamp,” he said. “But time is a problem.”
For more information, or to discuss donations for worthy causes, call Nelson at 879-8042 or Rich Brummer at 590-1708.