A Modern Impact: The Work of Rudy and Lela Autio

Exhibit by Asher Jay

Rudy and Lela Autio paved the way for the modern art movement in Montana. From roots in Butte and Great Falls, Rudy and Lela made their mark in the art history books after nearly 60 years of dedication to art making and advocation. Both attended Montana State University in the late 40’s (then Montana State College) where they first met and worked alongside Pete Voulkos, Frances Senska, Jessie Wilber, Bob and Gennie DeWeese, and many others.

Jessie Wilber Glalery & Lobby Gallery
September 14 – November 29, 2019

About the Artists

Over the years this group of artists inspired, supported and pushed one-another creatively to become some of the most revered artists in the state as well as life-long friends. Rudy who worked primarily in ceramics, helped build and develop the Archie Bray Clay Center in Helena and started the Ceramics program at the University of Montana, Missoula.

Lela loved to draw and paint and while achieving her Master’s Degree at the University of Montana, became interested in abstract scenes using blocks of color. Lela was a High School art teacher at Hellgate High for 10 years and a strong activist for the arts. She had a hand in the creation of the first art museum in Missoula, in the old Carnegie Library on Pattee St.

Rudy has been called ‘one of the most important and influential ceramic artists to every touch the medium of clay’. Both Rudy and Lela received the Governor’s Award in the Arts. Rudy in 1981 and Lela in 2015.

In addition to their artistic achievements, they raised four children, vacationed at a cabin they built on Flathead Lake, traveled the globe to share their love of art with their children, and all the while continually supporting the arts in their home town of Missoula and across the state.

Thank you to the Autio Family for their hard work and dedication to the arts and for sharing this collection with us.