Fantastic mechanical art in an old ice cream shop

Boyer Museum – Paul Boyer

1930 —
1205 M Street
Belleville, KS
Mechanical sculptures

Mechanical sculptor Paul Boyer was born in 1930, in Aurora, Kansas. He has no formal training in art or engineering, in fact he only has a 4th grade education, although he claims an 8th grade education, but then says he spent the last four years hiding in the creek.

His interest began as a 5 year old, he would watch his dad make 2 eight-foot propeller blades for a wind generator.  At the age of 35 in 1965, he was in a bad accident and lost a leg, then contracted Hepatitis C through a blood transfusion, and given 5 years to live. He has defied the prognosis and  being unable to return to work, he has spent the last 30+ years building his mechanical sculptures.

Paul’s work show his wonderful sense of humor. When he comes up with a new idea for a carving or motion machine, he doesn’t make blueprints, he says if he can see it in his head, he can build it in front of him.

Before moving  from Michigan in 1975, Paul gave most of his collection to family and friends, so it wouldn’t get broken during the move. His mother saved the oldest carving from 1942 and it is on display with most of his body of work at the Boyer Museum in Belleville, Kansas. Another piece on display at the museum is what he considers his masterpiece, the “Wind Calliope.”  Built out of cedar, it took Paul about a year to create this beautiful musicial machine, which plays 2 songs, “Chariots of Fire” and “Mockingbird Hill.”  The calliope was tuned by his wife, an accomplished pianist.  it is the only piece of work that  they collaborated on.

The Boyer Museum houses a large collection of animated carvings and motion displays. Paul’s animated displays have been a highlight of the NCK Free Fair for over 20 years. Each display features his ability to combine carving and mechanics which is unparalleled. You will be amazed by the mass of wire and gears that cause the displays to move. (Hillbillies hammer, horses kick, goats bump heads, a calliope plays music, Indians dance, and two woodpeckers help a self-portrait of the artist carve a wooden head.)

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(Photos © copyright 2006-2013 Kelly Ludwig, all rights reserved)

Bibliography & Links:

“Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations” (the book), by Randy Mason, Michael Murphy and Don Mayberger, Kansas City Star Publishing, 2002.

“Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations Coast to Coast Travel-o-Pedia” by Randy Mason, et. al., Kansas City Star Books, 2009.

On DVD – Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, “Prowlin’ the Prairie”, KCPT, Kansas City Public Television, 1996-2000.