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Lester Wilton Raymer

Lester Wilton Raymer was born in Alva, Oklahoma, on September 24, 1907, to John C. and Carrie Raymer. He had two other brothers, Harold and John Raymer. Lester developed a passion for art early in his childhood. In 1933 he received a bachelor’s degree from the Chicago Art Institute, where his art received critical praise. After graduation he established an art studio on his family farm in Alva. There he produced a large portion of work. Raymer experimented with different forms of classical art, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, and printmaking.

Raymer married Ramona Weddle in 1945 and the couple relocated to Lindsborg, Kansas. Here they established the Red Barn Craft Studio. The large and complex studio and home was made from recycled materials, which reflected his common approach to art during his later years. Raymer began to branch artistically into mediums such as pottery, woodcarving, furniture making, jewelry, masks, toys, mosaics, papier-mache, stitchery, and metal work. He became known for crafting discarded objects and materials into both art pieces and decorations for the studio. Common artistic themes in many of his works include clowns, minstrels, circus imagery, biblical scenes, ornate suns, and animals—especially horses and roosters. Raymer was known as a private type who did not often participate in self-promotion. He has been famously quoted as saying: “My paintings do all the talking.”

Throughout his career in Lindsborg Raymer’s artwork won many awards and his fame spread among the American art world. Raymer’s most common clients were churches. During the 1960s he was hired to do liturgical work for churches in Kansas, Illinois, and Texas.

Raymer remained active in his artistic pursuits until his death on June 6, 1991, he was 83 years old. The following year his wife Ramona died on July 12, 1992, also at the age of 83. Lester Raymer is buried at the Elmwood Cemetery in Lindsborg. In 1997 the Red Barn Studio opened to the public as a museum dedicated to Raymer’s artwork. It continues to be operated by the Raymer Society for the Arts. Red Barn Studio was listed in the Register of Historic Kansas Places in 2012.

Entry: Raymer, Lester Wilton

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: August 2017

Date Modified: August 2017

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.