LINDSBORG — Red Barn Studio Museum, nestled under tree branches back from the sidewalk along one of Lindsborg's main thoroughfares, gives visitors the opportunity to learn about one of the town's most prolific artists. This month, it is also providing the chance to own one of his unique pieces of art.
The museum, which was formerly the home and studio of artists Lester Raymer, will hold the annual Raymer Society Consignment Art Auction at 11 a.m. April 27 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 224 S. Main in Lindsborg. Doors will open at 9 a.m. and the artwork being sold can be seen in advance on the museum's website, www.lesterraymer.org.
The auction includes more than 100 pieces of art including seven oil paintings and a linocut by Lester Raymer. Five works by Birger Sandzen — oil painting, lithograph, wood cut, etc. — will also be sold.
Artwork from paintings to sculptures by more than 50 other artists — such as Oscar Gunnarson, Della Conroy, Charles Rogers, Maleta Forsberg, Jim Simpson and Pat Bartonek — will also be auctioned off. Reserve pieces for the pieces to be sold in the auction range from under $50 to $10,000.
Brian D'Ambrosio, media relations coordinator for Red Barn Studio Museum, said the auction aids the museum in meeting its daily operating costs. Drawing visitors from all over the world, Red Barn Studio Museum showcases Raymer's work in the home he built himself.
"His mother was an embroiderer ... he learned fiber art from her, but he took to painting, printmaking, ceramics, woodcarving and metalwork," D'Ambrosio said.
Born in Oklahoma in 1907, Raymer moved to Lindsborg in 1945.
"He was going to teach at Bethany College, and then Birger Sandzen gave that position to one of his proteges," D'Ambrosio said. "There just was something about his work that didn't really seem to fit. He had a reputation for being a curmudgeon ... he wouldn't sell you a painting unless he liked you."
Though Raymer had some formal training, it seems most of his skills came from a natural talent for taking the mundane and turning it into something meaningful.
"In 2019, you see a lot of upcycling – in the 1970's, that was avant-garde," D'Ambrosio said.
Raymer made more than 2,500 pieces of art — many with the motif of a clown or a rooster. Much of his work was made from materials he either found or had given to him. He even used tin cans to create elaborate stars and crosses.
"He wasn't particularly finicky about what materials you gave him, he could use it to make anything," D'Ambrosio said.
Besides his oil paintings, Raymer was known for the elaborate mechanical Christmas toys he made every year for his wife, Ramona.
Raymer started kept adding on rooms to his home until right before his death in 1991. The building now serves to not only display his work, but to encourage other artists in their creative endeavors. D'Ambrosio said Raymer built a small studio onto his house for just that purpose and the museum's artist in residence program brings in around a dozen musicians, writers and visual artists each year.
'You apply for the residence; you get to stay in the house for free and you get to come in the studio and work and have a quiet space," D'Ambrosio said.
The public can also meet the artist in residence and watch them work during the museum's open hours.
"Our mission is to keep alive the legacy of Lester Raymer and his art ... and to foster that spirit of creativity in people," D'Ambrosio said. "That's the greatest purpose of art, to inspire somebody."
The Red Barn Studio Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and also by appointment. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
For more information about the Raymer Society Art Auction and to see items up for bid, visit www.lesterraymer.org.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.