20-01-24 Valley People Brent Rasmussen@.jpg

Brent Rasmussen

Brent Rasmussen’s persistence pays off

Like many creative types, baker and chef Brent Rasmussen has a sideline. His passion and dedication to painting in his spare time is beginning to pay off.

“I painted on the sly for 20 years, but only for myself,” Rasmussen said during a break from Atkinsons’ Ketchum bakery department. At his second job he makes high-end party cakes for Hank and Sylvie’s.

A 1980 graduate from Berkeley with a degree in studio art, Rasmussen has refocused a certain amount of time in the past few years to painting and showing his work.

By posting his colorful abstract work on Instagram he recently caught the eye of Van Der Plas gallery in New York City’s SoHo gallery district.

“I got an email from Adriaane Van Der Plas saying that his curatorial team liked my work and would I like to be in a group show,” Rasmussen said.

The exposure will hopefully bring Rasmussen’s work to a larger audience.

Rasmussen, 61, studied art as a young man under Felix Ruvolo a lesser-known New York School impressionist who exhibited his paintings at the Whitney Biennial with renowned modernist painter Marc Chagall.

“I was taught to never bore myself,” he said. “If I did this, I would surely be boring to others.”

After college Rasmussen prioritized other pursuits while making a living as a chef at many restaurants in the Wood River Valley for decades.

“I was an alcoholic for 30 years, but sobered up nine years ago,” he said. “It took about three years to get my head straight and start focusing on my painting.”

Rasmussen said that when he was drinking he had no time for creativity.

“I worked, got drunk and then went to sleep. Then I got up and went back to work again.”

Rasmussen now gets up at 3:45 a.m. three days each week to work, and paints in the evenings.

Rasmussen grew up in Glendale, Calif. His father, Jos Maes, was an architect who designed churches.

“There was always stained glass in the homes that he built for us,” said Rasmussen, whose motifs bear a strong resemblance to his father’s church windows. “I just love the look.”

Over the past decade, Rasmussen sold seven paintings locally to friends, for under $1,000. During a recent Sun Valley Gallery Association Gallery Walk, he sold “Skyline” for $4,800 at Anderson Architects.

He was recently accepted in an online gallery hosted by artist and agent John C. Kuchera, where Rasmussen’s paintings are listed from $3,500 to $6,400.

“I am two and half years into a five-year plan to no longer work at a job and only paint,” Rasmussen said.

With a four-fold increase in his asking prices, that goal will still require gathering more followers on Instagram, selling more work and, of course, painting.

Rasmussen credits the local 12-step addiction recovery community for his success.

“It’s free group therapy every day for anyone who wants it,” he said.

His longtime partner is glad to see his persistence begin to pay off. They live together in Bellevue.

“She’s pretty excited about it,” he said.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

Load comments