Altered Esthetics was originally conceived as an exhibition venue where the focus would be on "art for art's sake" as opposed to art for monetary profit. Founded by Jamie Schumacher, the gallery first opened in April 2004 in Minneapolis with their inaugural exhibition, "The Art of War", which featured the work of 15 local artists.
The organization has grown significantly since 2004. Altered Esthetics still retains no paid staff and is staffed by approximately 100 volunteers. Their board of directors is a working, role-based board with eighteen active members. Due to the growth of the organization since 2004, they relocated in late 2006 to the Q'arma Building in Northeast Minneapolis' arts district. In May 2007, they were awarded 501(c)3 non-profit status. In addition to their brick-and-mortar gallery, they also maintain an active online gallery with the purpose of serving those artists who are not able to participate in shows at the Q'arma Building gallery.
Over the past six years, Altered Esthetics has hosted over 50 group exhibitions which focus on fine art, music, poetry, performance art, and film. Altered Esthetics has presented the work of over 1,000 national and international artists and has shown the work of such notable artists as Manuel Ocampo and J.M. Culver. Exhibitions have addressed such diverse themes as banned books, comic art, gender, and activism in the arts.
In 2007, Altered Esthetics began a curatorial internship program designed to offer artists, students, and community members hands-on experience in the arts. In 2008, a Gallery Director internship program was created. The goal of this program is to provide participants with experience is grant writing, fundraising, and other aspects of running a non-profit arts organization.
In 2009, Altered Esthetics drew over 2,000 people into the Minneapolis arts district to attend 14 different exhibits. Altered Esthetics is also a participant in Art-A-Whirl, the country's largest open-studio tour, during which over 20,000 people flooded the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District.
Author of a systematic theory of art published by G.P. Putnam, published in seven volumes during the period 1886 to 1900, and republished as a set of uniform volumes in 1909. Additionally an eighth volume was published, as a summary of the seven volumes, titled, Essentials of Esthetics. A volume of excerpts of his seven books, edited by the classical scholar Marion Mills Miller, was also published by Putnam in 1920. (see publication list below)
Raymond was an art theorist who created the first comprehensive and systematic theory of the arts. The New York Times said "In a spirit at once scientific and that of the true artist, he pierces through the manifestations of art to their sources, and shows the relations, intimate and essential, between painting, sculpture, poetry, music, and architecture."
He was rare among art theorists of the time (and since), to use psychology and physiology and biological factors to ground his art theory, and to use detailed discussions of specific art works to validate his views.
His work is neglected, although some scholars say his system deserves resurrection.
His basic approach is as stated in his summary one-volume book Essentials of Esthetics: "The phenomena of the arts of the highest class have been traced [in this book] to their sources in material nature and in the human mind; the different arts have been shown to be developed by exactly similar methods; and these methods have been shown to characterize the entire work of artistic imagination, from the formulation of psychical concepts to that of their most physical expressions in rhythm, proportion and harmony."
He was also a vocal advocate of a scientific and rational Christianity. He seemed to be following in Aquinas footsteps in believing he could rationalize religious belief with science.
He was also a widely published poet during the latter part of the 19th century, though with no lasting celebrity.
He wrote works on oratory (i.e., rhetoric), early in life, since he a professor of oratory; and later in life after retiring from his professorships, he wrote a book on ethics and natural law.
Three of his books (the last two in the esthetic book list above, and one on ethics) are available in full digital text form at subscriber website www.questia.com. In 2008 and 2009, all of these books were re-published by Kessinger Publishing and Bibliolife Publishing in hardcover and paperback. The title "Genesis of Art-Form" is also accessible for free at www.esthetics.cc (along with an archival copy of the New York Times 1893 book review of that book). Most of his series of seven volumes comprising his seven volumes on aesthetics is available in digital form at books.google.com.