Alaska Artists: Rie Munoz

lonely caribou in Alakan Nature

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Rie Munoz is a published illustrator of children's books. Some of the published credits of Rie Munoz include Goodbye, My Island, King Island Christmas, Runaway Mittens. She is a beloved watercolor artist and the state of Alaska adores her work. Muñoz's playful, bright images have captured the spirit of Alaska without sacrificing their authenticity. Her subjects include fishing camps, Eskimo villages, canneries, animals, and children at play, represented in a colorful, simplified style.

Rie Munoz, a Dutch-American, was born and raised in California. She has lived in Alaska since 1951. Rie Muñoz first came to Alaska in 1950, as a tourist on board the steamship Princess Louise. She was on a round-trip sailing from Seattle to Skagway, until she saw the docks and the mountains and, yes, the sun shining down on Juneau.

There was still snow on the mountains," Muñoz said. "And the water was sparkling. I had only seen Alaska magazine in the '40s and it was not nearly as beautiful as that day." Muñoz stepped off the vessel and told herself that if she found a job and a place to live, she was staying. She walked along a block or two before poking her head into the Daily Alaska Empire newspaper, where she was hired on the spot. Next she walked along Seventh Street, and saw a woman hanging laundry out to dry. She asked the woman if she knew of anyone with a place to rent and the woman said, "I have a place for you."

Muñoz moved in with the Finnish woman and her husband, a janitor at the federal building, paying them $5 a week. When the steamship returned to Juneau two days later, Muñoz went on board and retrieved all her belongings that had completed the sailing without her. Then she called her parents and said she was staying in Alaska.

During her years in Alaska, Muñoz has lived in a variety of small Alaska communities and has held many jobs. Among them were journalist, teacher, museum curator, artist, and raising her son.

In Juneau, her first painting was of the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church on Fifth Street downtown. She worked in oils in the beginning before perfecting her craft in watercolors. Instead of disposing of a work that was not up to par, Muñoz would turn it over and paint on the good side. "A number of my paintings have other no-good paintings on the other side," Muñoz laughed. "A lot of people probably have some of my disasters hanging on their walls." At the Daily Alaska Empire, which became the Juneau Empire in 1964, Muñoz was the cartoonist and editor of the women's page.

One of her most memorable positions was teaching school on King Island in 1951, where she taught 25 Eskimo children. The island was a 13-hour umiak (a walrus-skin boat) voyage from Nome, an experience she remembers vividly. Muñoz claims she first felt a "special affinity" to Alaskan natives after teaching there. It was here that she observed the Eskimo lifestyle and began sketching the people at everyday tasks

Her paintings, prints and reproductions are carried by galleries throughout the U.S. and Canada. She has had many solo watercolor exhibits in Alaska, Oregon and Washington State. Rie Munoz has devoted herself full time to her art since 1972.  Muñoz studied art at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, and at the University of Alaska-Juneau. She received the University of Alaska's Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree in May of 1999.

Johnny AculiakEdwin Tappan Adney| George Twok Aden AhgupukAlvin Eli Amason| Saradell Ard|   Belmore Browne| Vincent ColyerJules Bernard DahlagerLockwood De Forest| Frederick Samuel Dellenbaugh| William Franklin Draper| | Henry Wood Elliott| John Fehringer| Claire Fejes| Louis Agassiz Fuertes| Magnus Colcord Heurlin| Norman Jackson| Rockwell Kent| Sydney Mortimer Laurence| Fred Machetanz| Marvin Mangus| Milo Minock| James Kivetoruk Moses| Rie MunozJoseph Henry Sharp| James Everett Stuart| John Webber| Kesler Woodward|


rie munoz watercolor

Rie Munoz looking for Haleys comet

Alaska's Tribes:

Below is a full list of the different Alaska Native cultures. Within each culture are many different tribes.

Learn more about Alaskan tribes

Aleut Athabascan Eyak
Haida Inuit Tlingit
Tsimshian Yupik