Unity through paint

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

Anton “Tony” Rasmussen sat back and carefully eyed the 13-foot canvas in front of him in the Union Lobby. It was Sunday night and he had a couple of hours to finish painting.

“No, it needs more,” Rasmussen said.

With the help of Ryck Luthi, a Union staff specialist, Rasmussen tipped the 8-by-13-foot painting vertically on a chair and without missing a beat, continued painting. Using the top of his hand as a palette, Rasmussen glided the paint onto the canvas, ignoring the condition of his hands, which had turned a reddish-orange with black spots from the paint.

“It’s always fun when you start a painting and even the middle is OK,” Rasmussen said. “But there’s nothing fun with finishing it. I’m near tears right now.”

His painting, which he has renamed about four times, is composed of four separate canvases and reflects both the diversity and unity of students on campus.

From afar, the painting resembles the landscape at Arches National Park. However, the mountain in the image is made of scientific elements and religious symbols, including Islamic, Christian and Celtic figures.

“Every time you interact with it, every time you see it, you are moved by something different,” Rasmussen said.

It was hung the next day in the area that was formerly used as the Women’s Resource Center. Rasmussen’s painting will be the centerpiece for what will now be the student lounge, opening today.

The room on the southeast end of the Union was changed from the resource center, which was moved to the fourth floor, to a lounge as a part of the new campus master plan.

The new lounge will include a computer lab, couches and an art gallery. Luthi said students will receive first priority during shows, but faculty, staff and local Utah artists, such as Rasmussen, will be able to showcase their artwork as well.

The lounge could be considered a merge between a relaxation spot for students and an art gallery — two things the Union has housed in the past.

When the Union opened 50 years ago, the lounge was a “browsing room” where students could relax and listen to music. It turned into the Women’s Resource Center shortly after the Union Board realized the building needed more office space.

In the beginning, an art gallery was placed along the windows in front of the Union Ballroom, but was later shut down after controversy sparked surrounding a woman’s nude portrait, said Luthi, who served as the associate director of the Union for more than 36 years.

A new gallery was opened where the UCard office is now located, but it was closed six years ago because administrators said student art should be placed in more high-traffic areas around the Union, such as conference rooms and classrooms.

“(The new lounge) will give student artists a chance to really showcase their work,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen graduated from the U and has been both an instructor and administrator there. He was also the former director of the Bountiful Davis Art Center.

The bright, mostly red, orange and blue painting also features Egyptian, Navajo and Greek influences.

Nate Winters, former chair of the Art Department, who is helping Rasmussen’s project, said the painting was placed on the main lounge wall for a specific reason.

“The light will make the painting look different during the day,” Winters said. “The shape of the windows will match the pattern of the lines in the painting as well.”

He began creating the mural in 2003 but was forced to refrain from painting because of health reasons until about three months ago.

Rasmussen has yet to see the four-panel paintings put together.

“I’m a little nervous,” he said. “It’ll be fun to see how minds are going to interpret it.”

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Lennie Mahler

Anton Rasmussen completed an 8-foot by 13-foot painting which will hang in the new student lounge where the Women’s Resource Center used to be.