About Mana Lesman

I paint what i feel strongly about. That includes many things: the earth, its life forms, man and woman, history, the future, the philosophies that govern our perception of all of these. I seek to make visible my feelings because i think it vital to awaken consciousness, my own and my audience. The visual arts are a direct conduit into our deepest senses of feeling and awareness. Long before writing these visuals awakened in us a sense of others and the worlds around us, past, present and future. Even now, these awairnesses determine our course of action and hopefully aid us in making rational and relevant moves in our lives. My art is dedicated to that awakening.

Mana Lesman began drawing and painting in the mountains of Montana where she grew up. Having spent the early sixties studying art and architecture at Denver University, Kansas State University and Kansas City Art Institute, the artist traveled across the United States observing people and making sketches. In 1964 she settled in Chicago where she worked the next seven years as a product designer. During this time, she turned her artistic skills toward recording the scenes and the people of Chicago. To the people of the area she was known as ‘la Pintora’, the ‘Lady Painter’ and was often found in schoolyards or side streets painting in watercolor or oil. Ms. Lesman began exhibiting in 1976 and has since had over 100 one-woman shows in the U.S. and Canada. Her work is currently in galleries in Billings, Hardin, Red Lodge, Absorkee and Helena, and is accessible on the internet through the major search engines.

In 1978, while Fine Arts Director for Elixir Gallery in Chicago, she received a poster design award from the World Without War Committee, Midwest. She also received awards in 1981 and 1982 from the City of Chicago for work exhibited in the Palmer Square Festivals. She received the Grand Champion Fine Arts award in 1990 as well as many First Place awards for her paintings at Montana Fair in Billings.

Ms. Lesman designed and directed the painting of two murals in Chicago, “The People of Richmond Street United,” in 1979, funded by the Illinois Arts Council; and “Mujeres Latinas en Accion” (“Latin Women in Action”), 1982-83. She served as juror for city and community sponsored art exhibits and instructed art and dance in Public Schools, community centers and her own not-for-profit organization, Lesman Studio, Inc. from 1979 through the present. In 1980, ’81 and ’82, Ms Lesman received monies from the Chicago Council on Fine Arts to teach visual art workshops to young people and subsequently she served on a panel to select recipients of similar grants.

In 1985, Ms. Lesman returned to her birthplace, Billings, Montana with her family. She has continued painting and teaching. She taught at Lockwood School, Young Artists’ Studio, Growth Thru Art, City of Laurel, West Park Village, Billings Parks and Recreation and Rainbow House. Currently she still instructs art at the Billings Community Center and through the YMCA Artist’s Voice program, and the Summer Art Academy at Rocky Mountain College. In 1988 she received a grant from the Montana Children’s Trust Fund to produce silkscreen posters. She painted a horse in the “Horse of Course” program in 2002.

Mana and her husband, painter and sculptor, James Seward coordinated the fine arts component of the Senior Sports and Arts Festival for 10 years. They also held administrative roles in the Billings Arts Association. Currently their time is spent painting, teaching and exhibiting their work. Ms. Lesman is dedicated to seeing arts reach out to the community in every possible way. Her direction has been to raise people consciousness, to enhance their understanding of their roots, their beliefs, their labor and ultimately themselves through art.