The Artist

 

R.T. Wallen (known as "Skip" to his friends) is Alaska's most reknowned contemporary sculptor. He began his association with Alaska in territorial days when he came up as a high school student to commercial fish with his uncle out of Petersburg. As a college student in the early 1960s, he worked on archaeological excavations in the Aleutian Islands. Upon graduation from the University of Wisconsin, he worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as a wildlife biologist and staff artist, eventually leaving to pursue a career as a professional artist.

Wallen has celebrated Alaska in many drawings, paintings and stone lithographs that are found in private and museum collections around the world. His first sculpture was commissioned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Alaska Statehood. Due to budget constraints for the project, he and his wife Lynn donated the bronze sculpture Windfall Fisherman to the city of Juneau. This study of an Alaska brown bear, based on Wallen's stone lithograph of the same title, stands across from the Alaska Capitol and was cited as "the most photographed spot in the capital city."

Since that time, Wallen has installed other monumental sculptures in public spaces in the U.S. and Europe: Geneva, Amsterdam, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Whitehouse Station (NJ), Houston, and Two Rivers (WI). In Alaska, he has created three sculptures for Juneau, the Alaska-Siberia WWII monument in Fairbanks, the Matthew Iya plaque in Nome, the Jimmy George grave monument in Angoon, and, at the entrance to Denali National Park, a life-size sculpture of a brown bear, based on an 8-inch sculpture by the late Alaska artist Bill Berry. In recognition of his achievements in the arts, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Alaska Southeast in 2006.

More images of Wallen's work and information on the artist can be found on Wikipedia, the website for the Spirit of the Rivers sculpture project, and on this site regarding the river blindness insallation at the WHO.