Lela Autio (April 12, 1927 – January 23, 2016) was a modernist painter and sculptor from Great Falls, Montana. She graduated from Great Falls High School and attended Montana State College (now Montana State University) with a scholarship. She received an MA in painting and drawing from the University of Montana in 1961 where she was a student of Frances Senska. For much of her life she lived in Missoula, Montana and taught at Hellgate High School. She helped to found the Missoula Art Museum.

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  • Lela Autio (April 12, 1927 – January 23, 2016) was a modernist painter and sculptor from Great Falls, Montana. She graduated from Great Falls High School and attended Montana State College (now Montana State University) with a scholarship. She received an MA in painting and drawing from the University of Montana in 1961 where she was a student of Frances Senska. For much of her life she lived in Missoula, Montana and taught at Hellgate High School. Her husband Rudy Autio was a ceramicist. The two of them, along with Peter Voulkos, helped found the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. She was an artist in residence at the Archie Bray for five years during which time she taught classes and made pottery. She also contributed to the transformation of the Archie Bray from a brickyard to a ceramics art center with an international reputation before moving to Missoula in 1957. Not all of her work was in the medium of ceramics. She began working on theatrical costumes as a high school student. Over her life she created objects, usually wall hangings, and sculptural assemblages made from fabric, plexiglas, mylar, and plastic. Her soft sculptures draw on the tradition of Claes Oldenburg though they rarely depict identifiable objects. More often they create environmental spaces or theatrical interiors. Autio also created a number of paintings early in her career of landscapes and individuals from her community of Montana artists. In the 1950s her paintings were influenced by Abstract Expressionism as well as by latter day Impressionism. Her husband Rudy Autio also credited her with his introduction to Matisse, which would influence the three dimensional decor he added to his ceramic vessels. She helped to found the Missoula Art Museum. She received the Governor's Arts Award in 2015 from the Montana Arts Council. According to the ceramicist Joshua DeWeese, “Lela has played an important role in the development of the contemporary art scene in Montana. Her work has always challenged the traditional ideas of western representational art prevalent in the state, from the early abstract paintings, to the fabric ‘pop art’ sculpture created in the 70s, to the latest bold primary-colored plexiglas assemblages." Lela also published an autobiographical book titled "From Paint To Plexi" that details her journey as an artist along with other influential artists for her career, and also elaborates on the development of contemporary art in Montana. (en)
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  • 1927-04-12 (xsd:date)
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  • Lela Moniger (en)
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  • 2016-01-23 (xsd:date)
  • 2016-0-0
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  • Founder, Archie Bray Foundation
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  • Lela Autio (April 12, 1927 – January 23, 2016) was a modernist painter and sculptor from Great Falls, Montana. She graduated from Great Falls High School and attended Montana State College (now Montana State University) with a scholarship. She received an MA in painting and drawing from the University of Montana in 1961 where she was a student of Frances Senska. For much of her life she lived in Missoula, Montana and taught at Hellgate High School. She helped to found the Missoula Art Museum. (en)
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  • Lela Autio (en)
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  • female (en)
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  • Lela Autio (en)
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