Most Admired: Rie Munoz

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Rie Munoz (1921-2015)

Rie Munoz is an Alaskan artist that was born and raised in California. In 1951 she went on vacation to Alaska, traveling the inside passage by steamship she arrived at Juneau. She fell in love with Juneau and gave herself one day to find a job and a place to live before the steamship left. She landed a newspaper job, a place to live and Alaska has been her home since.

Over the years she has lived in many small Alaskan communities and held numerous jobs, among them journalist, teacher, museum curator and artist. In 1951 she held the position of a teacher on King Island where she taught twenty-five Eskimo children. This time in her life is featured in the January 1954 issue of National Geographic. Her paintings reflect her interest and fascination with day-to-day Alaskan activities such as village life, whaling, fishing both sport and commercial, berry picking, children playing, folklore and legends.

In 1972 she devoted herself fulltime to art and she began to publish full color reproductions of a small number of her watercolors. She produced about sixty originals a year. Over the years I have collected several of her reproductions. She describes her artwork:

“My artwork can best be described as expressionism. The term applies to work that rejects camera snapshot realism, and instead, expresses emotion by distortion and strong colors. My paintings reflect an interest in the day-to-day activities of Alaskans such as fishing, berry picking, children at play, crabbing, and whaling. I am also fascinated with the legends of Alaska’s Native people. While I find much to paint around Juneau, most of my material comes from sketching trips taken to the far corners of Alaska. I’ve taught school on King Island in the Bering Sea, traveled and sketched almost every community in Alaska.”
~ Rie Munoz

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