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About Jon & Jona Van Zyle

Jon Van Zyle.JPG

Art is Jon’s life and Alaska, all Alaska, has been his inspiration. Artist Jon Van Zyle has seen more of Alaska in a much more unique way than most can ever hope to experience. Jon has twice completed the 1049 miles of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race between Anchorage and Nome. From these adventures he has created the yearly Iditarod poster series commemorating the race and his involvement. In 1979 he was made the official Iditarod artist, a title he still holds today. In 2004 he was inducted into the Iditarod Hall of Fame.

His acrylic paintings go beyond the race though, and encompass so much of the Alaska beauty. Jon's reputation as a storyteller through his art is further enhanced by his prints, posters and stone lithographs. Dog teams, landscapes, wildlife, Alaskan faces from native to newcomer, portray an intimacy with the land and it's people. He touches on history with studies of Alaskan pioneers and native traditions and lore recording the Alaskan spirit. Public acceptance of his shared feeling through his art has been his greatest reward.

Jon's art career has spanned nearly 5 decades. Prolific artist, he produces numerous paintings a year for one man exhibitions in the United States as well as Europe. Illustrating at least two children's books a year since 1993 for prestigious publishers has earned him a reputation with a younger audience as well as many awards for his children's art. His limited edition prints and posters sell out regularly with well over 350 editions in the last 45-plus years.

Jon and his wife Jona, also an artist, travel extensively, gathering material and experiences for their continuous production of works of art. The Van Zyle's live near Eagle River where they raise and train Siberian Huskies. Both inspirational and functional, the dogs play a large part in their lives together.

Honors include official artist; invited artist National Art Exhibition of Alaskan Wildlife (Audubon Society) 1986 and 1987 and show judge in 1988; invited artist Alaska's Artists, Capital Rotunda in Washington D.C. 1983; invited artist Frye Art Museum in Seattle, Washington 1983, 1986, 1989 and 1994. Official artist Committee for Cooperation, Commerce and Peace, Alaska Siberia Friendship Flight #1, 1989. Artist of the year, Milwaukee Sports/Wildlife Show 1991. Invited artist to the prestigious Leigh Yawkey Woodson Bird in Art Show 1990. Organizer, race judge and official artist for Hope 91, first inter-continental international sled dog race from Nome, Alaska to Anadyr, Chukotka Region, USSR. Featured artist, Pacific Rim Wildlife Art Show, Tacoma, Washington 1990, 1992 and 1997. Official artist, International Federation of Sleddog Sports. 1999 Benjamin Franklin Award. Featured artist "Wild in de Natuur" Enschede, Holland 1999. Invited artist Deutsches RÖntgen Museum, Remscheid, Germany 2001. 2004 Iditarod Hall of Fame. Proud member of the Pioneers of Alaska, Igloo number one, Nome, Alaska. 2019 Governors Arts and Humanities Award for individual Artist.


About Jona Van Zyle
Although born in Ohio, Jona Van Zyle has always been an Alaskan at heart, and a full time resident since 1998. Her longtime love of wildlife and sled dogs has greatly influenced all the facets of her art life.

From 1985-1997 Jona was the assistant curator of the Balto Sled Dog exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Ohio. Cleveland is the home of Balto, the lead dog from the last relay team of the 1925 Serum Run. She continued that work with the Anchorage Museum of History and Art for several years.

With over 30 years experience working with huskies, she has written and illustrated many articles about dog history and training for such publications as Mushing Magazine.

Jona's art background includes studies at Kent State University, The Cleveland Institute of Art, and a year in Arizona apprenticed to architect Paolo Soleri.

Her interest include ceramics, metal casting, and graphic design. Jona's many years working as a sailmaker in Ohio and New York designing and sewing large custom spinnaker sails honed her sewing interest and skills.

In 1999 Jona's textile works were exhibited in Alaska's prestigious Earth, Fire and Fiber competition. Her Dog Trainers' Jacket and Mukluks won juror's award and toured the state.

Jona's Raven design was chosen as the 2000, 65th Anniversary, Anchorage Fur Rendezvous logo. She has been designing the Junior Iditarod's fundraising annual Birchwood buttons since 1999, and continues to do so.

2001 both Jon and Jona had a joint exhibition in Stafa, Switzerland and were the invited artist at the Deutschess RÖntgen Museum in Remscheid, Germany.

2003 Jon and Jona were invited participants in Anchorage's inaugural Wild Salmon on Parade, as well as a joint exhibition in Zurch, Switzerland.

2004 was a big year. Jona designed the 2004 Official Iditarod Race Cachet Envelope carried by each musher from Anchorage to Nome. Also, Jona and Jon were the first husband and wife team chosen as artist-in residence at Denali national Park and Preserve.

2005 Jona and Jon returned to Switerland for joint exhibitions in Ruti and Chur during the month of October.

In 2006, Jona mentored Girl Scout Troop 771 with their mural project for camp Togowoods. She and Jon completed mural projects for the Athabascan village of Ruby and were the artist-in-residence at the Wrangell/St. Elias National park and Preserve.

2007 was a busy year, Jona completed a coloring/field notes children's book for Wrangell/St. Elias Park and Preserve. She was also chosen to create an ornament for the White House Christmas tree. She and Jon attended the premier White House Christmas party as guests of the First Lady. Jona continues to enjoy beading and working with salmon skin and smoke-tanned moosehide creating unique necklaces, clothing and containers that carry the Alaskan spirit and mistique.

2008 Jona updated her sold out Iditarod Memories for reprinting. It was also an exhibition year in Switzerland with a 6 week show in Stäfa. Mid May through September is busily filled with hosting tour groups to their home.

Jona's beaded blue suede bowl titled "Turnagain Belues " was accepted in the state wide Earth, Fire & Fiber exhibit ." Turnagain Belues" is presently touring the state of Alaska! Jona lives near Eagle River with her husband Jon and their kennel of happy huskies.

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