SMALL TOWNS: Pella artist making his creative dreams come true

Updated: Feb. 24, 2022 at 6:10 PM CST
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PELLA, Wis. (WBAY) - An artist from the Small Town of Pella, Wisconsin, is being recognized for his digital masterworks.

Scott Menzel works out of his studio in Pella, patient for the creative process to begin.

“In my world nothing is fast,” Scott says.

Scott was born with a condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2.

“It’s a hereditary condition where my muscles aren’t getting the right signals, so the muscle growth gets stunted, so I’ve never really walked, I’ve been in a wheelchair all my life,” Scott says.

Unable to do many of the things his friends enjoyed, Scott fell in love with art at a young age.

“I would draw cartoons and cars just to kind of pass time by and then just slowly progressed through school, I would do T-shirts and different various projects for the school,” Scott says.

After sketching all the faces of his 1993 Marion High School graduating class on a T-shirt, Scott earned a degree in Graphic Communications at St. Norbert College in De Pere.

He worked at the college for ten years in a computer lab, helping teachers learn how to use assistive technology for students with disabilities.

On the side, he continued his artwork, receiving constant praise but inside unsure if the compliments were sincere because of his disability.

“There’s always that doubt, well they’re just saying it to be nice, but I think the moment where I realized maybe there was something to it was I entered a competition and they didn’t know who I was obviously and I got my work published in an international magazine,” Scott said.

With newfound confidence, Scott returned to Pella.

“This is kind of my home turf, which is kind of nice,” Scott said. “Everybody is like family in this area, so it’s comforting, you’re not like a stranger.”

In 2014 he launched his own art business, Menzel Fine Art.

Using a track ball, an on-screen keyboard and traditional software programs like Photoshop, Blender, Art Rage and Premiere, Scott entered the world of digital art.

“Really I have no excuses. I have all the tools to be able to create whatever I envision and now it’s up to me and my responsibility to be able to produce it,” Scott says.

“It’s a lifeline for him. Technology has allowed him to keep up with his art. He has lost movement in his hands over the years and now he can draw via the computer,” says mom Patti Menzel.

Scott’s art can be found in local hospitals, colleges, non-profit facilities and businesses as far away as Milwaukee.

In recent years, he’s transitioned from using canvas to transferring his art onto metal.

“All of a sudden you just get that a-ha moment where it’s like alright, it’s done.”

Scott considers his style mostly contemporary, with a focus on abstract ideas, and all kinds of creatures, like a spider titled “Strange Beauty.”

“It’s symbolic to me just because sometimes people are afraid of things they don’t understand, and like being in a wheelchair sometimes people don’t know how to approach you which I totally get, I’m not offended, and I try to break the ice with people,” Scott says.

With the help of family and friends, Scott is able to travel to at least a dozen art shows each year around the state.

A proud mom sees it as an opportunity for her son to serve as an inspiration.

“To show the world what a person can do, and what a person is able to do,” says Patti.

Scott admits he’s proud of how far he’s come on a road traveled by very few.

“It’s pretty awesome, I’ll be honest with you. It’s great to be able to create, to do it for a living and then to have people see it is probably the greatest thing. I want people to see it,” says Scott.

Scott’s dream one day is to open his own gallery and to travel the world showcasing his artwork. Based on his amazing talent and incredible attitude, don’t be surprised to see it happen.

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