The Fire Station Relief


In 1995 the Missoula Arts Commission announced a competition for a work of art to be installed in the newly built Missoula Fire Station on Madison and Pine Streets.  The building had a niche in the west face, a recessed area approximately 7 x 18 feet in which the art work was to be placed.  Entries in the form of models were submitted and then shown at the Art Museum of Missoula for a public vote.

Autio's design, traditional in its layout, depicted easily identifiable scenes and objects.  A firebell at the top pays homage to Ben Franklin's first fire society established in Philadelphia.  The dominant center panel depicts galloping fire horses with an old time pumper.  Beneath the date block, an ancient fire engine in a fiery Arcadian setting responds to a call.  The surrounding tiles were so brightly colored that some viewers mistook it for a stained glass window.

After a favorable public vote, the Missoula Arts Commission awarded the commission to Rudy and work began in May at the Autio Studio.  Rudy made the drawings, Hugh Warford built the specialized tile sections and Derek Larson, a ceramic student, did all the glazing.  Fifty-two kilns full of tile were fired in the 5 1/2 months of work.  With all problems solved, scaffolding was erected and the tiles were cemented into place during four days of freezing October winds.  Finally a time capsule was placed inside the date tile containing a roster of firemen then serving, along with photos of the mayor, the artist and his helpers, and a copy of the local Missoulian to add ceremony to the installation.

Drawing of Center Panel (80k)

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