A photograph of The Rogue Fitness Gallery. Table-style display case in the foreground with a double door vinyl wrap of Hafthor Bjornsson completing a deadlift in the backdrop.

What’s New is a series of monthly blog posts that reports on the latest happenings, updates, acquisitions, and projects at the Stark Center. Because my work focuses on exhibit design and gallery management, the What’s New blog series will have a specific focus on our gallery spaces. Readers can expect these blogs to report on the latest things to see on their next visit to The Stark Center.

First, if you haven’t read about the re-design of our main lobby in the fall of 2023, please check out my blog post “You Are Here” which discusses the thoughts and intentions behind the project as well as the great teamwork that allowed us to succeed.

For this inaugural issue of What’s New, I want to show you our updated and renamed Rogue Fitness Gallery (formerly the Strongman/Strongwoman exhibit) as well as a few other points that became opportunities to provide new recognition/information to visitors and push the Stark Center brand into new points of display and advertisement.


Renamed in honor of Bill and Caity Henniger’s efforts to preserve the history of the strength sports, The Rogue Fitness Gallery highlights both strength on stage and in competition. The gallery’s new name also comes with a new title board detailing the Hennigers’ gifts and the great things we’ve accomplished in partnership with them. Visitors should be sure to check out the table case to look at Donald Dinnie’s belt, worn by the mid-nineteenth century strength athlete and adorned with many of his medals. It is the oldest Strongman artifact currently displayed in The Rogue Fitness Gallery and was previously lost to history. But with a new name and a new title board comes a new vinyl graphic on the double doors along the gallery’s back wall.

In foreground, viewers see the new black and red Rogue Fitness gallery title board with a blurred perspective of the actual gallery space in the background.

Previously, a photograph of Bill Kazmaier competing in the Highland Games was displayed on these doors, but we felt it was time for an update as the influence and history of the strength sports has grown at astounding rates over the last few decades. Now, a mountain stands guard over the gallery. The new photograph of Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson shows the legendary strongman completing a deadlift of 433 kilograms (955 pounds) for the first of his three attempts at the 2019 Arnold Strongman Classic in Columbus, Ohio. He made 474 kilograms (1,045 pounds) on his second attempt, and then jumped to 501 kilograms––just over 1100 pounds. He missed that record-shattering weight, but made it later on May 2, 2020 in a live-streamed exhibition at Thor’s Power Gym in Kópavogur, Iceland during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the new vinyl door graphic, I put up a caption honoring Björnsson’s achievements and on-going career. But visitors should read this caption to the end as it provided a space for me to explain who and how the Basque lifting stone—an artifact on display next to these double doors—came to be broken and repaired. It was Thor’s fault.


I’ve also designed new retractable banners that now stand in the North End Zone lobby guiding visitors up to our space and advertising the center to sports fans visiting the UT Athletics Hall of Fame on the first floor of the building. The significance of these banners is two-fold: continuing the work of inviting new visitors to The Stark Center and being more present on campus. These retractable banners can be rolled up and then packed into carrying cases, which means you will also see them displayed at off-site events such as the Clyde Raab Littlefield Lecture, future academic conferences, and even powerlifting meets hosted by the university’s powerlifting club—Longhorn Powerlfiting.

Three new retractable banners on display in the NEZ lobby. From left to right: first is blue tinted with Hafthor Bjornsson deadlifting, second is a blue red and yellow tinted images of Stark highlights and the text "Visit The Stark Center," and third is a burnt orange tinted banner featuring Julius Whittier in his #67 football jersey.


While his name may not be immediately familiar to visitors, Ragan Gennusa’s stunning oil paintings of Southwest landscapes, and especially longhorn cattle, will be familiar to Longhorn sports fans. During the rise of coach Mack Brown’s Longhorn football teams, Gennusa began creating a series of three paintings symbolizing their successful ascent, which culminated with the BCS National Championship in 2005. That trilogy series, included “The Climb to the Top,” and “Dawn of a new Longhorn Era,” both of which now hang here, in The Stark Center Lobby on a wall which preserves and honors the “Longhorn Legacy.” Gennusa played wide receiver for Coach Darrell Royal and was the football team’s leading receiver in 1966 and 1967. Clearly, a man with good hands. I’m glad to say that accompanying the two paintings on display in our lobby is a new caption with information on Gennusa’s careers, in both college football and the arts.

A white caption with black text in focus, next to two color oil paintings of longhorn cattle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.