Evelyn Raymond was St. Louis Park’s most recognized artist in residence. Born on March 20, 1908 in Duluth, she studied at the Minneapolis School of Art and Design until she quit over a staff mandate to discontinue doing abstract art. She and some fellow students pooled their meager Depression resources and rented a studio in downtown Minneapolis.
She really made her reputation as a WPA artist, teaching sculpture for 25 cents an hour “to everyone from garagemen to executives. It was like the Renaissance. Those days were really fun, “she recalled in a 1991 article in the Sailor. She was the head of the sculpture department at the Walker from 1938 to 1951. During the 1940s she founded and served as President of the Minnesota Sculpture Society.
In 1951 she created a studio and apartment at 4501 W. 38th Street (3730 Monterey Drive) at the corner of Excelsior Blvd. and Monterey (now Trader Joe’s parking lot). A former resident of the home describes the ’40s-era house as very elegant, with black walnut walls and glass block. Her students were primarily women, which she attributed to the fact that her classes were in the morning when usually women could attend. She did feel that women had a better feel for sculpture than men.
She was an active member of the community, contributing a recipe for salt pork potatoes to the Dispatch in 1960.
Miss Raymond was best known for her bronze “Maria” which was commissioned for Minnesota’s Centennial in 1958. It would be displayed at Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. She had won the honor among 12 contestants who vied to create the statue of Maria Sanford, “Minnesota’s First Lady of Pioneers.” It was the first statue of a woman in the Capitol, and Raymond was the first female sculptor represented at the Capitol.
Other pieces around Minnesota include:
“The Family,” a 3,200 pound copper sculpture, was created in 1959 for the front of the MSI Insurance Company Home Office at 1919 University Ave. in St. Paul. The sculpture, which measured 20′ by 21,’ portrayed the protection that insurance provides the family. In 1979 the company moved to Arden Hills. Although the sculpture was a very prominent part of MSI’s heritage, “The Family” was not architecturally compatible with the new building, and it was donated to the College of St. Thomas in September 1983. It was mounted on the east wall of the College’s T. Merritt and Katherine Coughlan Field House. A framed prototype of this piece was donated to the St. Louis Park Historical Society by Daniel K. Johnson in May 2014
International Falls Stadium – cement bas-relief of athletes – 1941-42
Farmer’s Exchange Building in South St. Paul – six walnut figures – moved to Sanex Building
Sebeka High School
St. Joseph’s Church, Hopkins
Church of the Good Shepherd, 48th & France, Edina – 1949
Fairview Southdale Hospital – “Time for Love”
St. Olaf College – Busts of Mr. and Mrs. Skoglund
University of Minnesota Field House – sculpture of Bernie Bierman – commissioned in 1976 by 276 of his former players.
Minneapolis Public Library – Alabaster pelican (lost?)
Church of St. Austin, Minneapolis – Hammered copper piece of St. Austin
Walker Art Museum – “The Doors”
Minnesota Historical Society – “Erg”
Timothy Lutheran Church (7814 Minnetonka Blvd.)
St. George’s Episcopal Church (5224 Minnetonka Blvd.) Victory cross was sold to a church in the Dominican Republic. A small crucifix is in St. George’s lobby.
Raymond’s final legacy to St. Louis Park is the “Celebration of Peace” sculpture that was dedicated at the Rec Center in 1997. Her desire was to create a piece that would represent the birds that were displaced when Wolfe Park was developed.
Evelyn Raymond passed away on April 25, 1998. She is featured in the 2011 book Pioneer Modernists: Minnesota’s First Generation of Women Artists, by Julie L’Enfant.