by Maggie Boyle Judi
In the late 1980s and early 90s, Monticello could offer an elclectic trifecta of art teachers.
For Landon Ramsey, who at the time was an impressionable boy with an affinity for all things creative, those three teachers presented a frame work of inspiration that allowed him to answer with confidence, the age old question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”
The answer from the little boy growing up, who was no stranger to the ethics of hard working farm life, the son of creative and artistic parents, was always, “an artist.”
“Whenever artists would come to Monticello, I would want to go and see their art and take a class from them.” He is speaking of the classes taught near the end of long, summer days in Monticello by Bruce Hucko, who is somewhat of a household name in the world of southwest art.
To this day, Hucko still teaches art classes to kids in Moab. He also remembers the life-sized Frankenstein drawn in chalk in a style reminiscent of Van Gogh that hung in Mr. Boyle’s sixth grade classroom every Halloween. He liked it so much he made his own version that he still has “somewhere.”
Landon also remembers Lee Burningham’s junior high art classes, where the students could delve with enthusiasm and freedom into all different mediums, from ceramics to oil pastels, water colors and charcoal.
(Fun fact: there is a Youtube video of Lee Burningham wheel-throwing a pot with his feet. For all those who remember him, it is a must see.)
All of these experiences for Ramsay led to a life filled with the opportunity to produce artistic masterpieces. Today his medium is gold leaf, colorants, and his camera. His subject are the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints..
In regards to the construction of the LDS sacred temples, the Church says, “During construction, only the finest materials and craftsmanship are used, as a temple is meant to be a longlasting, beautiful tribute to God.”
One of those fine craftsmen is Landon Ramsey, who for the past 17 years has worked in nearly 40 temples painting the decorative paint and gold leaf borders and ceilings.
He works in collaboration with designers and architects to come up with the patterns that they then make into silk screens on sight.
While the repetitive patterns are applied with the handmade silk screens, Ramsay’s perfectionist eye and dedication to the detail allow this artist to free hand a lot of his work.
It usually takes anywhere from two to four months to complete the work in each temple, but Landon’s latest, the Payson temple, was a leviathan length of 10 months.
“Of all of them I’ve done,” he said. “Payson is one of my favorites. It was a lot bigger than any of the other ones we’ve done.”
Currently, Ramsay is working on the new Provo City Center Temple repairing wood working. The ornate crown moldings and door frames are patched and painted at their seams by Ramsay with delicate, intense precision. By the time he finishes painting and sanding the wood, it appears as though it where one seamless piece.
Landon Gage the photographer has just finished a photographic temple series entitled, “The Day Dawn is Breaking.” The pictures are panoramic in view, featuring a piercing sunburst, and have an ethereal softness to them.
He edits them to omit all other modern structures and he adds a “painterly border,” that reflects his own painting style.
It is a unique take on a prolific subject: one that stems from Ramsay’s sort of artistically maverick personality, of which he says, “I always want to do things differently. I have trouble conforming. I always want to be different than everybody else.”
“At the Manti Temple, I didn’t want to just settle for an image that anyone else had done, I wanted to do it myself. I am really independent that way.”
Ramsay initially took the photo as a gift for his wife. Having been married in 2001 in the Manti temple, he and wife Jacey, parents to three boys and one beautiful baby girl, wanted a picture of the place they made their eternal vows, to hang in their home, but couldn’t find one that fit their unique expectations.
That’s when Ramsay took matters into his own hands. The results of that impulse to see things differently, and to creatively solve a problem, culminated in a contract with a marketing firm that represents the likes of famous LDS artists Liz Lemmon Swindle, and Del Parsons.
When Ramsay approached the firm with his first six panoramic photos of different temples, it didn’t take long for them to offer him a contract.
He says they told him, “…we see about 200 submissions a year, and we usually take five of those.” And then they told him, “and we want to sell your stuff.”
This summer, Ramsay has been on the road photographing 30 temples for the series, and spending about two days per image on editing.
The canvas prints are available for purchase at Costco, Deseret Book and the websites reparteegallery.com and ldsart.com.
Landon Ramsey is a quiet, almost shy artisan. “I don’t like to be in the spotlight really.” His art, however, is.
He communicates with brush strokes, cameras, and lighting his gift of creativity. That gift, with roots in San Juan County, is enjoyed in 40 temples from Ghana to Tahiti, and from Ogden to Monticello.