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Published November 26, 2009, 10:50 AM

Mystery artist finally has drawings on display

Valley City, ND (WDAY TV) - A man cleaning Valley City State University's halls now has his artwork hanging in them. The mystery artist, whose work is finally on display. For weeks, it was a mystery at VCSU. “The drawings kept growing and growing.” Who was leaving gorgeous, detailed drawings on chalkboards in the art room?

By: Kelsey Soby, WDAY

Valley City, ND (WDAY TV) - A man cleaning Valley City State University's halls now has his artwork hanging in them. The mystery artist, whose work is finally on display. For weeks, it was a mystery at VCSU. “The drawings kept growing and growing.” Who was leaving gorgeous, detailed drawings on chalkboards in the art room?

“I realized that whoever was doing this can draw really well.”

Art Professor and Department Chair, Linda Whitney, couldn't take the suspense any longer.

“I think I wrote, who are you?”

58-year old Mike Rasmussen finally identified himself as the night janitor with a secret hobby. His gruff, bearded look melts quickly into a gentle smile, as he speaks of his passion, not cleaning, but painting.

“I have no idea how to explain that. There's nothing even close to each other. It's just the job let's me paint, I guess.”

As an employee of the school, Mike may take one class per semester for free. Since he is a self-taught artist, Mike decided he could use an art class.

“They said I must have a natural talent.”

And after seeing Mike's talent, Professor Whitney was pleased to have him as a student.

“It's important that artists have talents. Probably more important artists have tenacity and passion and Mike has both.”

Mike's paintings are anything but rotten, so it's kind of funny is work as an artist started with fungus. He used to paint these to sell to tourists on the west coast. His projects are bigger now, he even has a little corner of the art room to himself, where he paints pictures usually inspired by things he's seen in real life. Like this favorite, of his wife.

“It's a challenge. It keeps challenging me to keep doing other things.”

Such as moving his artwork from a dark classroom to an exhibit and displaying it for all to enjoy. The Rasumussen exhibition at VCSU runs through December 18th.

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