Juneau artist sketches Unalaska

Posted: Monday, August 21, 2006

UNALASKA - A well-known Alaskan artist, who is no stranger to Unalaska, now has a sketchbook filled with island scenes.

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Rie Munoz, who calls Juneau her home, spent last month on the island capturing scenes and touching the artistic soul of the community.

Munoz has visited the island five times since 1951. She said that as a result of her work in July she must "have close to seventy sketches."

Even Sinclair Wilt openly suggested Munoz do some sketching inside Alyeska Seafoods and she accepted.

In addition, she said she sketched island scenes that included the church, the cemetery and houses around town. Her sketchbook also includes work she did on a seine boat trip and scene from the Dutch Harbor waterfront.

Munoz said she takes the sketches home and turns them into paintings.

On her first visit to the island in 1951, Munoz was passing through from Sitka to Nome on a Bureau of Indian Affairs vessel called the North Star.

Her last visit was two years ago.

This summer, Munoz also spent an evening sharing her art and her stories with the community during a standing-room-only tea party at the Museum of the Aleutians.

Munoz said she has been in Alaska since 1951, when she traveled through the Inside Passage by steamship and decided to call Juneau her home.

Over the years, she has worked as a journalist, teacher, museum curator and artist. She recalled that one of her most memorable times in Alaska was teaching on King Island, a 13-hour umiak voyage from Nome. The sketches and paintings in her collection reflect her life and experiences in small Alaskan villages.

Munoz, who studied art at Washington and Lee University in Virginia and also at the University of Alaska Southeast, is known for capturing life in rural Alaska villages.

Munoz is known for using her brush in "much in a way the writers use a pen: to tell a story."

In her art, she often depicts village people and their everyday life - hanging laundry, fishing, gathering berries and spruce roots, waiting for reindeer roundup and children playing.

She also paints the legends still being shared in villages of the relationship between animals and humans.

Her work is in galleries throughout the United States, Canada, Norway, Japan, England and Holland.

In Juneau, her son, Juan, runs the Rie Munoz Gallery, which has been open for about 20 years.

"For me, her art is a dream of pure visual music. What matters in her art is not the imitation of nature, but expression of feelings through the choice of colors and lines," Zoya Johnson said during "Tea with Munoz" last week at the museum.

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