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Painting Pittsburgh: Raymer's art honors 412 legends across town

Raymer's art all over Pittsburgh
Raymer's art all over Pittsburgh 03:29

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - As Pittsburgh fans, we have plenty of ways to express our fandom: Renegade at tailgates, sitting in the same seat for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, wearing the same jersey because it's seen a winning streak, and so much more.

One Pittsburgh fan, however, expresses his love of Pittsburgh sports through his art.

Not only does Jeremy Raymer express his fandom through art, but he also makes it so other 412 fanatics can enjoy it right along with him.

"Ninety out of a hundred Yinzers have seen the mural," Raymer said in reference to the Clemente mural on the North Side.

Raymer, who uses his last name as his mononym, is a native of Glassport and a graduate of South Allegheny. 

While his left brain had him at the University of Pittsburgh studying biomedical and electrical engineering, he couldn't ignore his right brain.

"Your know, it was a huge turning point for me in my artistic career," he recalled. "I was taking a drawing class and my professor told me I drew like a painter, I didn't really think too much about that, so the next opportunity I had I took a painting class."

Now, one would think that's where the story really begins, right?

Well, Raymer didn't quite turn into the painter you know today right away. His engineering career began to take off before his painting career really got going.

"I made a lot of jumps in my career in the pursuit of better compensation and painting was definitely my release, kind of like my therapy from work," he said. "At first it was five, ten hours a week, and then it got to a point where it was taking up more and more of my time and I became a little more serious." 

So serious that he began shopping his work around to local galleries. It wasn't the most fruitful endeavor as he said that he was turned down by all of them, none of them offering to buy his work or showcase it.

"They basically said I would never make a career selling portraits," Raymer said.

Then, in 2016, he saw the writing on the wall. He was on the fast track to becoming a principal engineer and possibly a subject matter expert at Westinghouse.

"Not many people would walk away from what I walked away from," he said. "One project turned into two to three to four and it got to a point where I was booked for two months out, three months out."

Names like Troy Polamalu, Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux, and more were among those he would create portraits of in public settings.

It was one name, though, that Raymer was excited to paint.

"I really like to do Clemente here, he needs a large-scale piece, I'd love to be the one to do something, especially in a highly visible place," he said at the time.

It was an unassuming south-facing wall in the North Side that Raymer found his canvas and it didn't take long to have it approved either.

He sent the owner a rendering of the portrait and "literally 15 minutes late, basically, he called me and said he loved it, I think I was out there painting 7-10 days later." 

The Clemente mural went viral as did his rendering of the late rapper and Pittsburgh native Mac Miller.

All of this has kept Raymer in the public eye and this week he's set to unveil his latest project, a mural of Negro League legend Josh Gibson which has been done in collaboration with Voodoo Brewing and the Josh Gibson Foundation. 

Now, it's full steam ahead for Raymer with plans to paint more Pittsburgh legends.

"Probably Bruno Sammartino, definitely, maybe an Art Rooney piece, there's definitely quite a few people that we could select from," he said. 

While he said his family thinks he's crazy for doing all this work for free, he always pushes back, saying he loves to do it and it's not about the money and he knows it's what he's supposed to be doing five years later. 

"It's one of the best sports towns, if not the best sports town in the world."

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