Juneau, Alaska – Alaska artist Rie Muñoz died last night in Juneau. She was 93, active and independent until her last hours.
An Alaskan for 65 years, Rie is known for her bright, colorful paintings and good cheer.
Her watercolors were not realistic, but they captured the spirit of her subjects. She loved people, and it showed in her work:
Alaskans doing Alaska-type things, fishermen working, children at play, village life, legends, and dogs. Rie once said she never
met a dog she didn’t like.
While living in California in 1950, she decided to plan a trip. Looking at a map, she drew a line to the farthest and most
interesting place she could afford on a shoestring budget. Rie chose Alaska, traveling up the Inside Passage by steamship.
She fell in love with Juneau immediately and gave herself one day – until the boat was scheduled to return to the Lower 48 –
to find a job and a place to live. Rie found both, and Alaska became her home.
During her years in the Last Frontier, Rie visited and sketched every Alaska community on the road system and most of
those off the grid. She held many jobs. Among them were journalist, teacher, museum curator, artist, and raising her son.
One of her most memorable positions was on King Island in 1951, where she taught 25 Inupiaq children.
Rie studied art at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. Inspired by an ad in a matchbook in 1957,
she took a correspondence course through the Famous Artists Painting Course program. She received the University of
Alaska's Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree in May of 1999. Her paintings, prints, and reproductions are carried by galleries
throughout the United States and Canada.
Rie was born in Van Nuys, California, August 17, 1921, and died in Juneau on April 6, 2015. She is survived by her son Juan,
daughter-in-law Cathy, grandchildren Mercedes and Matthew, her brother Piet Mounier, niece Marie, and nephews Pete and Bob.
There will be a celebration of her life at Centennial Hall, Thursday, April 23, 2015, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.