The following introduction was written by author Sarah Eppenbach for the book, "Rie Munoz - Portrait of Alaska." The occasional mention of plate numbers also refers to the color illustrations seen in this book. For the complete biography, please go to to our Info Request Form and order this marvelous volume which contains over 359 color images.
What appealed to her most were "images you might not think an artist would want to paint," such as people butchering crab, skinning a seal, or doing their laundry in a hand-cranked washing machine. After teaching with her husband in an Inupiat Eskimo village on King Island during one school year, she felt a special affinity for Alaska's Native peoples and deliberately set about recording the traditional lifestyles she knew to be changing very fast.
For the next twenty years, Rie practiced her art as a "Sunday painter," in and around prospecting with her husband, raising a son, and working as a freelance commercial artist, illustrator, cartoonist, and curator of exhibits for the Alaska State Museum. In 1972, with her hand-cut stencil and serigraph prints selling well in four locations in Alaska, she felt confident enough to leave her job and devote full time to her art. Freed from the constraints of an office job, she began to produce close to a hundred paintings a year, in addition to stone lithograph and serigraph prints.
From her earliest days as an artist, Rie had firm beliefs about selling her work. First, the edition size should be'kept modest. When she decided in 1973 to reproduce Eskimo Story Teller (POA Plate 24) as an offset lithography print and found the minimum print run to be 500, she destroyed 200 of the prints. She did the same with King Island (POA Plate 28), her second reproduction. Reluctantly, to meet market demand, she increased the edition size of the reproductions to 500 and then 750. The editions stayed at that level for almost ten years before climbing to 950 and 1250.
Second, her art should remain accessible to the people who provide the subject matter for her paintings-the cannery workers and fishermen and residents of rural Alaska. Her first stencil prints sold for $9 and $12 when it was issued in 1969 and 1970. With few exceptions, new releases were still priced at $50 or less ten years later. Currently, her limited edition prints are priced between $55 and $140 when theyre issued.
Today, Rie Munoz art is available in more than 150 galleries and shops, a wine store and a pet shop among them. Her work has been exhibited at solo shows at the Charles and Emma Frye Art Museum, Alaska State Museum in Juneau, Anchorage Historical and Fine Arts Museum, Tongass Historical Museum in Ketchikan, and Yukon Regional Library in Whitehorse; Yukon Territory and included in exhibits at the Smithsonian Institute and Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, DC Rie Munoz paintings have graced the covers of countless publications, from cookbooks to mail order catalogs, and been published in magazines, newspapers, posters, calendars, and two previous collections of her work: Rie Munoz, Alaskan Artist (Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, 1984) and Rie Munoz, Artist in Alaska (Rie Munoz Ltd., 1987).
Although Rie usually paints Alaskan subjects, the collectors of her work live across the nation. Many collect thematically: They may buy all of the art with Russian churches, for example, or all the bird prints, or the self-portraits. Prints with a maternal theme have gained an especially fervent following in recent years. Gallery owners watched in amazement in 1988 as women filed in to buy multiple copies of Baby Girls Legend (POA Plate 253) to give to their daughters and granddaughters (the print sold out within three months, a Rie Munoz record at the time) and repeated the performance in 1990 when Rie released her poignant tribute to motherhood, The Embrace (POA Plate 276) (sold out in three weeks). One trait Munoz collectors share: They frame their purchases and enjoy them. "These people are putting the work on their walls," says Don Scott, a gallery owner in LaConner, Washington. "We know collectors who have built additions to their homes just to show her work."
Now in her seventies, Rie completes fifty to sixty paintings a year and selects ten to fifteen of themthe "ones I like best"for reproduction into offset lithography prints. She travels from her Juneau home on frequent sketching trips and to seclude herself in one of her cabins to paint. She works hard, considering four hours of painting a day the minimum for maintaining her craft.