Rie Munoz proves that sometimes a decision, seemingly based on a whim, can be a pivoting factor in a person’s career and life. It was such a decision that brought artist Rie Munoz to Juneau, where she became one of Alaska ’s most recognized artists. In 1951 Munoz was planning a vacation. Looking at a map, she randomly drew a line from her home in California to the farthest point she could visit on her limited budget. She opted to go to Alaska, traveling up the Inside Passage by steamship, and fell in love with Juneau. She gave herself one day-until the boat was scheduled to depart-to find a job and a place to live. She landed a newspaper job and Alaska has been home to Munoz ever since.
During her years in Alaska, Munoz has lived in a variety of small Alaska communities and has held many jobs. 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.
Munoz 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. 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. She has devoted herself full time to her art since 1972.