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Rie Munoz
Rie Muñoz
August 17, 1921 - April 6, 2015

Rie Munoz' Alaska: More true than real

By Amy Fletcher |

One of Rie Muñoz' favorite pieces of her own work was "Peaceable Alaska," a painting inspired by Edward Hicks' "Peaceable Kingdom." Rie's painting, completed in 1982, shows a young boy outside at night, surrounded by wild animals and trees, with no other people in sight. The boy leans up against a bear, his arm around its neck, while close around him stand a caribou, musk ox, fox, rabbit and other Alaskan creatures. The overwhelming feeling is of calm harmony, of potential dangers rendered safe.

"Peaceable Alaska," while more fanciful than many of Rie's pieces, highlights an important aspect of her work: it wasn't intended to be realistic. Though she gathered visual information with the determination and energy of a true documentarian – traveling all over the state to sketch Alaskans doing what they do – in the end she was more interested in conveying emotion than in reproducing what she saw. Her Alaska radiates warmth and connection, even in the snow or the dark of a forest. It could be argued that this perspective had less to do with artistic whimsy and much more to do with the artist's perception of the place she called home. Her paintings seem more true than real.

Rie's son, Juan Jr., who owns the Rie Muñoz Gallery in Juneau's Mendenhall Valley, said his mother once received what she considered to be a great compliment from an Alaska Native elder who attended a show of her work in Anchorage. After carefully looking at some of her paintings of life in Alaska's remote villages, he told her she seemed to understand the people portrayed in her art.

Monday, May 25, 2015

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