MARQUETTE, Mich.—Vida Lautner (1885-1978) is perhaps best known for raising a talented son, the late John Lautner, an iconic modern architect who was based in California. But Vida was a true Renaissance woman who was well-versed in several humanities and an active designer and painter in her own right. Several hundred paintings from all periods of her life are being showcased in an exhibit titled “Vida Lautner: Works on Paper” at Northern Michigan University’s DeVos Art Museum.
Lautner received a life teacher’s certificate from Northern State Normal School (now NMU) in 1906 and returned later to complete a bachelor’s degree. In the 1920s and ‘30s, she spent time in the burgeoning art scene in New York’s Greenwich Village and took courses at the School of Fine and Applied Arts (now Parson’s School of Design). She received numerous awards for her designs and exhibited her work around the region, including the Detroit Institute of Arts. Her painting styles were influenced by her travels and openness to experimentation.
Vida and her husband, John Lautner Sr., built a home near campus, where he served on the faculty. The family later built a camp on Lake Superior called Midgaard. Vida was solely responsible for the design and furnishings. After her husband died, she moved to Chicago, but spent summers in Marquette.
The DeVos Art Museum has spent about two years working with the Lautner family to catalogue the collection, which is on long-term loan.
Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays and 1-4 p.m. weekends. For more information, visit www.nmu.edu/devos.