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 Lester Wilton Raymer  (1907 - 1991)

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Lived/Active: Kansas/Oklahoma      Known for: painting-religious symbol, circus, roosters, boys, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
The Bride Wears White
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Lester Raymer, born in 1907, grew up on a farm just southwest of Alva, Oklahoma. Raymer worked with a variety of art forms beginning in his early grade school years and continuing throughout his artistic career. He received his bachelor's degree in art from the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1936 to 1945 Raymer lived on his family farm again and continued to develop his artwork. Raymer met Ramona Weddle, his future wife, at the Art Institute.

Ramona was born in 1909 at the Brunswick Hotel in Lindsborg, Kansas. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago during the same time period as Raymer. After her graduation in 1936, Ramona came back to Lindsborg and taught in the Art Department of Bethany College. In 1945, Lester and Ramona married and decided to create a home in Lindsborg. Although Ramona assisted Raymer with the pottery during their first years of marriage, she produced very little art of her own. Her focus was to be supportive of Raymer's work.

Raymer's art was influenced by a number of factors. The circus came to Alva often during Raymer's childhood. He worked for a poultry business where he did drawings and paintings in his spare time. The "Bible" was a source of imagery beginning in his childhood. Raymer's painting professor at the Chicago Art Institute was Boris Aslov from Russia, and his art history professor was Helen Gardner, author of "Art Through the Ages", long-time used as a textbook of American art. Raymer talked often of the great influence his trips to Mexico had on his artwork and of his desire to remodel his studio in the style of a Mexican home.

Raymer won major awards and international recognition with his religious art work and liturgical commissions. He taught one year at Bethany College in the art department and then made his living from the sale of his artwork. He utilized a variety of materials to produce a diverse body of artwork. Lamps, candleholders, furniture, and many of the sculptures in the studio were made for the studio use, not to sell. His paintings were most significant to him.

Raymer was a studio artist in Lindsborg, Kansas until his death in 1991.

The Red Barn Studio Museum
Exhibition Record (Museums, Institutions and Awards):
Prairie Water Color Painters, Derby, England; Wichita Art Museum; Sandzén Gallery, 2004; Midwest Art Exhibition at the Messiah Festival, 1945-1991;
Prairie Water Color Painters. Award: Gold medal, Eighth Annual Oklahoma Artists Exhibition, 1937; Purchase award, First biennial exhibition of regional art, Manhattan, 1950; Kansas Governor’s Artist Award, 1984.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born Alva, OK, Sept. 24, 1907; died Lindsborg, June 1, 1991. Painter, specialized in religious images, circus, roosters. Printmaker. Sculptor. Craftsman. Studied at the Art Institute of Chicago under Boris Aslov and Helen Gardner where he earned a BFA and at the University of New Mexico. Moved to Lindsborg in the 1940s. Taught 176 at Bethany College, Lindsborg from 1946-47 but primarily devoted his life to working as a studio artist at the Red Barn Studio in Lindsborg.
Sandzén Gallery; Hutchinson Art Center; Beach Museum

Prairie Water Color Painters. Award: Gold medal, Eighth Annual Oklahoma Artists Exhibition, 1937; Purchase award, First biennial exhibition of regional art, Manhattan, 1950; Kansas Governor’s Artist Award, 1984.

Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
Arts in Kansas N.P.: American Association of University Women. Kansas Division. 1958; Beach; Wichita Eagle (June 4, 1991); Sandzén files; Lester Raymer: A Collection of Essays (Lindsborg, KS: Raymer Society, 1998); 100 Years of Art; AskArt,, accessed Dec. 23, 2005
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

Biography from Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery:
Lester W. Raymer

Lester Wilton Raymer was born September 24, 1907, in Alva, Oklahoma. He completed academic courses at Northwestern University in Alva, and then studied at the Chicago Art Institute where he graduated in 1935.

His visits to Lindsborg began in the early 1940s. Lester married Ramoa Weddle, and started his life as a Lindsborg studio artist in 1945.

In 1946-47 Raymer taught art at Bethany College. He then continued to develop his Red Barn Studio.

Lester’s work has been featured in many of the Easter Midwest Art Exhibitions. And, after the final phases of Raymer’s career, hardly a year passed when the Sandzén Gallery did not feature his work or included it in the exhibitions.

According to his student, Don Weddle, “The Aerialists depicts performers floating effortlessly, In a magically transparent ‘Big Top’ reminiscent of Chagall, the figures circle perpetually counter-clockwise over well-trained horses. Herein one senses Raymer making a connection between two of his favorite amusements, toys and the circus. It is as if one could wind up the painting: the music would begin, and the carousel would play on forever.”

Lester Raymer died on June 1, 1991, leaving to the Raymer Society the task of promoting his life and art in the Midwest.

You are encouraged to visit the Red Barn Studio in Lindsborg at 212 South Main in Lindsborg. There you will see a studio which in itself is a work of art by one of Lindsborg’s finest and most versatile artists.

Biography from Hutchinson Art Center:
Born near Alva, Oklahoma, Lester Raymer was a pupil at the Art Institute of Chicago and then had a studio in Lindsborg, Kansas. He had a fascination with the circus (developed as a boy in Oklahoma), which is a thematic element that can be seen in many of his works.

His sculpture and paintings also reflect his interest in early Renaissance painters and culture, as well as 17th to 20th century Spanish painters. El Greco-like faces can often be found in Raymer's works.

He was friend and colleague to Birger Sandzen, another well-known painter. Raymer's studio and home is now a non-profit museum called Red Barn Studio in Lindsborg.

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