Otto Moilan was born in Finland in 1881. After finishing school he studied painting privately and received some art instruction at the Helsingfors Art School (Finland). He then immigrated to Duluth/Superior, Minnesota where he operated a photography studio. Moving to Minneapolis, he attended the Minneapolis School of Art for four years. During that period he studied with Robert Koehler and Knute Heldner.
The first showing of one of his paintings, Road to the River, was at the Minnesota State Art Society exhibition in 1914. Three paintings were accepted for exhibition at the State Fair in 1926. One, The Mills, was given honorable mention. In 1929, Moilan became an instructor at the Kansas City Art Institute. Shortly after the move, a fire destroyed Moilan's studio, and about fifty of his landscape and portraits were lost. A November 1930 article in the Kansas City Journal Post reports that the "Alden [Gallery] offers a fine array of monotypes by Otto Moilan, a Minneapolis artist now living in Kansas City". Moilan was primarily a painter; his prints appear to have been mostly monotypes [woodcuts], although there are a few in other techniques. He also painted a number of Kansas City, Mo. city scenes as part of a W. P. A. project during the 1930's. Otto Moilan died October 23, 1937 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Minnesota Prints and Printmakers 1900-1945 by Robert L. Crumb.
Kansas City Public Library – Missouri Valley Special Collections
Information provided by Scott Wilder