Museum Exhibition Shows ‘The Art of Steel’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The steel mills of Youngstown were hulking industrial monsters   that crouched in the river Valleys. They roared and belched as legions of workers coaxed out their molten products.

With angular shapes and fiery furnaces, the long-gone mills inspired many artists over the years – some of whom toiled inside of them.

Some of their works can be seen in a new exhibition, “The Art of Steel,” which opens Friday, July 1, at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor, 151 W. Wood St.

The exhibit was curated by Youngstown State University graduate student Amber Tisdale to fulfill the requirements for her master’s degree in American studies. Tisdale said she will now seek a job in museum.

She selected the art from the permanent collection of the YHCIL, more commonly known as the steel museum.

The pieces were donated to the museum over the years, in many cases by the artists or their families, Tisdale said. The artists, who are from the Youngstown area, have a variety of backgrounds, ranging from former steelworkers to business owners. Some are self-taught artists, while others have academic training.

“I tried to highlight as many artists, mediums and aspects of the steel industry as I could,” said Tisdale, who is a Niles native.

The exhibit will be in the Harry Meshel classroom on the museum’s main floor from July through September. In addition to its eight paintings, the exhibit includes eight black and white photographs that were also chosen from the museum’s collection.

Each photograph is similar to the painting mounted next to it, showing the scene that might have inspired the artist in some cases. They were taken by photographers from the former William B. Pollock Co. for informational and advertising purposes.

The Youngstown-based Pollock Co. was known for its innovations in the construction of blast furnaces and their components.

A color catalog was created for the exhibition, with information about each piece.

The pieces include “Goodbye Big Steel,” painted by Suzanne Pool Anzellotti in 1983. The massive artwork depicts an ore handling station at what is believed to be US Steel’s Ohio Works in Youngstown. It is one of two pieces in the exhibit by Anzellotti, who was an illustrator for Strouss’ Department Store.

Another notable painting is “Ladle #1,” a watercolor painted by Calvin M. Stroble in 1992. Stroble is a Wellsville native and a Navy veteran who attended YSU.

The exhibition also includes works by Carmen Fortunato, John Fleming, Klaus Grutzka and George Richardson, whose works include a steel mill scene painted on a large sawblade.

The steel museum is supported by the Ohio History Connection and managed by the history program at YSU. For information about admission pricing and accessibility, go to youngstownohiosteelmuseum.org.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.