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Variations of the Vision...The Art of Lester Raymer

September 7 - December 31, 2000


Lester Raymer, Lindsborg artist from 1945 till his death in 1991, won major national awards with his artwork. "Variations of the Vision" focuses on the major Raymer collections from the Greenough Trust and the Sandzen Gallery Foundation. The exhibition includes a special "Influences" show featuring artwork of individuals who influenced or were influenced by Raymer. There are a series of lectures by nationally recognized artists and art curators that focus on the variations of Raymer's artistic vision. The exhibition and special events were cooperatively curated by the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery and Raymer Society staff.

Raymer wrote a diary about his work near the end of his life. He wrote, "The test of a great work of art is its immediate impact on the viewer." One should see it and react. An overall sense of the work should arouse you, and be uplifting aesthetically. Variations of`the Vision ... The Art of Lester Raymer presents a unique opportunity for the viewer to experience the art of Lester Raymer (1907-1991) from the collections of the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery of which much as not been publicly exhibited before. (left: This Be Not 1, 1966-67, oil on board, 48 x 33 inches, Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery - Greenough Trust Collection, Photo by Jaderborg Photography)

Lester Raymer was a marvelous eclectic whose artwork ranged from his paintings, drawings, and prints to art aesthetics of his studio The Red Barn. If This Be Not I, one of the oil paintings in the exhibition expresses Raymer's profound interest in the mysteries of life. The viewer becomes an intruder of a public performance, which masks the private emotions of the artist. The oil The Aerialists shares with the viewer Raymer's lifelong interest in circus performers. Variations of Raymer's vision takes viewers on a journey through art history, travels, and environments which influenced Raymer.

Raymer received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Chicago Art Institute. While a student from 1930 to 1933, his art won every major student award offered by the Institute. He studied with Russian painter Boris Anisfeld and art historian Helen Gardner. In 1933, Lester established an art studio on the family farm near Alva, Oklahoma. While in Oklahoma front 1933 to 1945, he was recognized nationally for his paintings, prints, drawings, and sculpture. (left: The Aerialists, 1949, oil on canvas, 42 x 36 inches, Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery Collection, Gift of Lester and Ramona Raymer, Photo by Jaderborg Photography)

In 1945 Raymer moved to Lindsborg, to marry Ramona Weddle. Together they established the Red Barn Craft Studio, which soon became known as the Red Barn Studio, Throughout the years, which followed, Lester Raymer received major art awards and greater national recognition. In addition, in the 1960s, he won several major commissions for liturgical art for churches in Kansas, Illinois, and Texas.

A unique component of the Raymer exhibition at the Sandzén Gallery will be Influences. This show presents the art of artists who influenced Raymer and or were influenced by Raymer. Influences opens September 7 and ends on October 22

Lester Raymer, born in 1907, began his artistic journey, as he remembered it, at the age of six. He died June 1, 1991. His journal entry close to the day of his death invites one to ponder his significance in the art world. Variations of`the Vision ... The Art of Lester Raymer· as an exhibition offers the viewer an opportunity to see his visions. He wrote, "Genius is an abstraction which comes to life when its possessor dies. Then his creations start to live, assuming that they have any life at all, for they occupy the place where he stood when he looked at the world, and they offer to those who know how to see it, a vision of what he saw, what he stood for, and what he created for others to look at."

Variations of`the Vision ... The Art of Lester Raymer presents the viewer with an opportunity to experience and react to the large collection focused on Raymer art in the collections of the Sandzén Gallery. Raymer's Red Barn Studio was an integral part of his artistic career. To create the aesthetics of the Red Barn he embellished found objects and the surfaces of furniture. Sculpture, masks, banners, carvings, boxes, metal work, pottery, and toys created by Lester fill the studio. Today, the Red Barn Studio is maintained by the Raymer Society as an artist studio and museum open to the public.

There will be a series of lectures and regional exhibitions related to this exhibition by nationally recognized artists and art curators on the variations of Raymer's artistic vision. Selected events are noted below.

Sept 23 - Lecture at Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery: "Lester Raymer, the Author's Talk," open to the public. Panel discussion at Sandzen Gallery, facilitated by book coordinator Dr. Carla Scott. Writers Dr. Bruce Kahler, Diane Lincoln, Lan Nelson, and Don Weddle will discuss their chapters and respond to the art in the exhibition. Book signing to follow.

Oct 7-31: Exhibition at Mingenback Art Center, Bethany College, directly behind the Sandzen Gallery: "Travelogue," open to the public. An exhibition by visiting artists Pablo Helguera and Vivian Pastuovich. Helguera is an artist with an outstanding international art exhibition record. Originally from Mexico, art degree from the School of the Chicago Art Institute, he is now the director of the educational programs at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Vivian Pastuovich, originally from Croatia, art degree from the School of the Chicago Art Institute, is a book artist, papermaker and printmaker. They are an artist couple sharing life and art together.

Oct 7 2:00 p.m. Lecture at the Sandzen Gallery: "Travel as It Influences the Artist" Open to the public. A lecture by Pablo Helguera, who will relate how artists are affected by travel, how his art has been affected by travel, and how numerous visits to Mexico and New Mexico affected Raymer's art. Following this talk, Vivian Pastuovich and Pablo Helguera will present a gallery talk about their exhibition. This talk will be at Mingenback Art Center. A reception will follow.

Oct 20-22: Raymer Weekend: This weekend will be filled with public and members only events. Raymer and Sandzen Gallery members are invited to the members only events. Friends of members may attend for designated fee per private event.

Oct 21 2:00 p.m., Gallery Talks on "Influences," open to the public, at the Sandzén Gallery. "Influences, the Artists and the Community" a gallery talk by Skip Miller, Curator of the Kit Carson Museum, and Blumenschein House, Taos, New Mexico. Blumenschein was one of the original Taos artists. Raymer knew many of the Taos artists, had a home/studio in Taos from 1960-63, and visited Taos regularly. Open to the public, at the Sandzén Gallery. "Influences-Boris Anisfeld as Raymer's Major Art Instructor", a gallery talk by Dr. Joe Brandesky. Brandesky is Associate Professor of Theatre at Ohio State University at the Lima Ohio Campus. He is the historian documenting the life and art of Anisfeld internationally known for his theatre and opera set and costume designs. Raymer studied with Anisfeld at the School of the Chicago Art Institute from 1930 to 1933. The artists of the "Influences" exhibition will be honored with a reception following these two gallery talks.

Oct 22 2 p.m. Lecture: "Sacred Art and Christian Symbolism," open to the public. A lecture and discussion about the significance of religion and Christian symbolism in Raymer's art. Lecture is at Messiah Lutheran Church directly across the street from the Sandzen Gallery. Reception follows to honor individual donors contributing significant Raymer artwork to the Raymer Society.

Nov 11 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Gallery talk:: "The Harlequin and the Clown in Lester Raymer's Art," open to the public at Sandzen Gallery. A gallery talk by Dr. Novelene Ross, Chief Curator, The Wichita Art Museum.

Nov 11 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. Gallery talk: "Reflections of the Great Masters and Lester Raymer's Art," open to the public at Sandzen Gallery. A gallery talk by Mr. Richard Townsend, The Ruth G. Hardman Curator of European and American Art, The Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Dec 9 2:00 p.m. Gallery talk: "Artists and Toys," a gallery talk by Alan Du Bois, Curator of Decorative Arts, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas. Mr. Du Bois has curated The National Toys Designed by Artists for 27 years. Reception at the Red Barn Studio with special opportunity to see the toys Raymer made for his wife, Ramona. Noah's Ark that Raymer made will be unveiled at the reception and again available to the public on a regular basis. Donor for restoration is artist Dorothy Koelling of Wichita and she will be honored at this reception.

rev. 9/1/00

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