Van Zyle, Jon 1942-
Van Zyle, Jon 1942-
Born November 9, 1942, in Petoskey, MI; son of Ruth Van Zyle; married November 9, 1980; wife's name Jona (an artist).
Home and office—Alaska Limited Editions, P.O. Box 518, Eagle River, AK 99577.
Fine artist, muralist, and illustrator. Professional artist, beginning 1972. Organizer, race judge, and official artist for Hope 91 (first intercontinental international sled dog race from Nome, AK, to Anadyr, Chukotka Region, USSR); official Iditarod artist, 1979—; official artist for International Federation of Sled Dog Sports; artist-in-residence (with Jona Van Zyle) at Delali National Park and Preserve, 2004. Artist for limited plate collections, Lenox China Inc., beginning 1991, and for Aloska clothing line, Arctic Circle Enterprises, Seattle, WA. Show judge for Audubon Society National Art Show, 1988. Exhibitions: Work exhibited in Capitol Rotunda, Washington, DC, 1983; Fry Art Museum, Seattle, WA, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1994; and others. Audubon Society's National Art exhibition of Alaskan Wildlife, participant 1986, 1987, 1988; Pacific Rim Wildlife Art Show, Tacoma, WA, featured artist, 1990, 1992; one-man shows staged in galleries throughout the United States and Europe.
Named Artist of the Year, Milwaukee Sports/Wildlife Show, 1991; CCBC Choice designation and Nevada Young Readers' Award, both 1998, both for Lewis and Papa by Barbara Joosse; Benjamin Franklin Award, 1999; inducted into Iditarod Hall of Fame, 2004; named artist of the year, American Bald Eagle Foundation, 2006.
(Self-illustrated) Jon Van Zyle's Alaska Sketchbook: Four Seasons in the Far North, foreword by Debbie S. Miller, Epicenter Press (Fairfax, AK), 1998.
ILLUSTRATOR; FOR CHILDREN
Jonathan London, The Eyes of Gray Wolf, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1993.
Jonathan London, Honey Paw and Lightfoot, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1994.
Debbie S. Miller, A Caribou Journey, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1995.
Tim Jones, Dog Heroes, Epicenter Press (Fairbanks, AK), 1995.
Brian J. Heinz, Kayuktuk: An Arctic Quest, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA) 1996.
Nancy Whilte Carlstrom, Raven and River, Little Brown (Boston, MA), 1997.
Debbie S. Miller, A Polar Bear Journey, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1997.
Debbie S. Miller, Disappearing Lake: Nature's Magic in Denali National Park, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 1997.
Barbara Joosse, Lewis and Papa: Adventure on the Santa Fe Trail, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
Jonathan London, Baby Whale's Journey, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1999.
Debbie S. Miller, River of Life, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Debbie S. Miller, A Woolly Mammoth Journey, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.
Jonathan London, Gone Again Ptarmigan, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2001.
Debbie S. Miller, The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 2002.
Debbie S. Miller, Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 2003.
Jonathan London, Sled Dogs Run, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 2005.
Debbie S. Miller, Big Alaska: Journey across America's Most Amazing State, Walker & Co. (New York, NY), 2006.
Also illustrator of Jonathan London's Bella Bella (serial novel), published by Breakfast Serials.
A. Allan Turner, editor, The Iditarod Arctic Sports Medicine-Human Performance Guide, American College of Sports Medicine, Alaska Regional Chapter, 1988, 2nd edition, 1989.
Carol Phillips, Best of Alaska: The Art of Jon Van Zyle, Epicenter Press (Fairbanks, AK), 1990.
Lew Friedman, Iditarod Classics, Epicenter Press (Fairbanks, AK), 1992.
Jona Van Zyle, Jon Van Zyle's Iditarod Memories: 25 Years of Poster Art from the Last Great Race, Epicenter Press (Kenmore, WA), 2000.
Also illustrator of Dog Heroes, Iditarod Classics, More Iditarod Classics, and Iditarod Fact Book, all Epicenter Press.
Artist Jon Van Zyle gets his inspiration from Alaska. His completion of two Iditarod Trail sled-dog races, which follow a grueling 1,049-mile course between Anchorage and Nome, inspired him to create a commemorative poster for the event, and he has served as the official Iditarod artist every year since 1979. In addition to acrylic paintings and limited-edition prints, Van Zyle's award-winning work has been showcased in a number of books that focus on the Earth's northern regions, among them Best of Alaska: The Art of Jon Van
Zyle and Jon Van Zyle's Iditarod Memories: 25 Years of Poster Art from the Last Great Race, the latter featuring a text by Van Zyle's wife, artist Jona Van Zyle. The Van Zyles make their home near Eagle River, where, in addition to their work, they raise Siberian huskies.
With his skill at portraying the Alaskan people—both natives and non-natives—as well the landscape of the Earth's northernmost region, Van Zyle has also established himself as an illustrator, and his work has appeared in books such as Jonathan London's The Eyes of Gray Wolf, Brian J. Heinz's Kayuktuk: An Arctic Quest, and The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail, the last one of several stories he has illustrated for Alaskan writer Debbie S. Miller. Commenting on Van Zyle's contribution to London's picture book about a lonely Arctic wolf, a Publishers Weekly writer noted that in The Eyes of Gray Wolf the artist "depicts the arctic night and its wolves with uncommon intimacy and ease," while his illustrations of a brown bear and her cub for London's Honey Paw and Lightfoot were dubbed "handsome" and "arresting" by Horn Book reviewer Margaret A. Bush. In The Great Serum Race Van Zyle brings to life Miller's story about Togo, the Siberian husky that led a sled-dog team over 260 miles in the quest to deliver life-saving antitoxin serum to hundreds of people living in the remote town of Nome, Alaska and stricken with diphtheria during a 1925 outbreak. Praising Miller's factual approach to the event that inspired the Iditarod, a Kirkus Reviews writer took special note of Van Zyle's "polished paintings," writing that he "effectively captures the Alaska landscape, especially in sweeping vistas of snow, sky, and northern lights." In School Library Journal Patricia Manning cited another collaboration between Miller and Van Zyle, writing that the illustrator's "superb and quietly beautiful acrylic paintings" in Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights "capture both light and dark in perfect harmony" with Miller's imaginative explanation of the Arctic's winter solstice.
Jon Van Zyle's Alaska Sketchbook: Four Seasons in the Far North features Van Zyle's paintings along with handwritten journal entries from his sketchbooks that follow Alaska's changing seasons. The activities that inspire his art—camping, fishing, driving his sled-dog team—are brought to life in sketches, prose, and full-page paintings, all of which combine to present an intimate introduction to the region.
As a child, Van Zyle developed a love of both animals and art, inspired in both by his mother, who trained work dogs. Intending to either "become an artist or a veterinarian," as he noted on his home page, Van Zyle ultimately decided on art, which has allowed him to travel extensively. "I've remained true to my convictions to paint only what I truly know and understand," the artist/illustrator explained, noting that although he has "traveled the world over," his subject remains his beloved Alaska. "When I paint, I relive a small portion of my own life, a small story that evokes an emotion," he noted. "It is that story, that emotion, that I'm trying to convey—not just the image…. The art is Alaska, the emotions and story in my paintings are universal. Through my art I want to share these stories."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Alaska, February, 1983, Hazel Heath, "He Has Been There," p. 79; May, 1991, Gary Lyon, "The Many Faces of Wolves," p. 34; March, 2003, Dana Stabenow, "Sewards Mural in a Day," p. 18.
Booklist, November 1, 1993, Annie Ayres, review of The Eyes of Gray Wolf, p. 518; September 15, 1994, Mary Harris Veeder, review of A Caribou Journey, p. 140; March 15, 1995, Mary Harris Veeder, review of Honey Paw and Lightfoot, p. 1335; March 15, 1997, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Disappearing Lake: Nature's Magic in Denali National Park, p. 1246; May 15, 1997, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Raven and River, p. 1578; June 1, 1998, John Peters, review of Lewis and Papa: Adventure on the Santa Fe Trail, p. 1780; December 1, 1998, review of A Polar Bear Journey, p. 676; November 1, 1999, John Peters, review of Baby Whale's Journey, p. 539; March 15, 2000, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of River of Life, p. 1384; January 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Gone Again Ptarmigan, p. 963; May 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of A Woolly Mammoth Journey, p. 1686; January 1, 2003, Todd Morning, review of The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail, p. 884; October 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights, p. 314; June 1, 2005, Linda Perkins, review of Sled Dogs Run, p. 1822; March 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Big Alaska: Journey across America's Most Amazing State, p. 96.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1997, review of Disappearing Lake, p. 215; June, 1997, review of Raven and River, p. 352.
Horn Book, September-October, 1995, Margaret A. Bush, review of Honey Paw and Lightfoot, p. 590.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of The Great Serum Race, p. 1476; June 1, 2003, review of Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights, p. 808; February 15, 2006, review of Big Alaska, p. 188.
Publishers Weekly, August 16, 1993, review of The Eyes of Gray Wolf, p. 102; May 1, 1995, review of Honey Paw and Lightfoot, p. 58; June 15, 1998, review of Lewis and Papa, p. 59.
School Library Journal, January, 1994, Susan Oliver, review of The Eyes of Gray Wolf, p. 92; October, 1994, Roz Goodman, review of A Caribou Journey, p. 112; November, 1995, Mollie Bynum, review of Kayuktuk: An Arctic Quest, p. 81; October, 1998, review of Sled Dogs Run, p. 102; January, 2000, Susan Scheps, review of Baby Whale's Journey, p. 123; July, 2000, Arwen Marshall, review of River of Life, p. 96; May, 2001, Sue Sherif, review of Gone Again Ptarmigan, p. 128; June, 2001, Margaret Bush, review of A Woolly Mammoth Journey, p. 140; November, 2002, Susan Oliver, review of The Great Serum Race, p. 130; August, 2003, Patricia Manning, review of Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights, p. 183; May, 2005, Maryann H. Owen, review of Sled Dogs Run, p. 89; May, 2006, Amelia Jenkins, review of Big Alaska, p. 115.
Times Educational Supplement, January 15, 2000, review of Baby Whale's Journey, p. 24.
Jon Van Zyle Home Page,http://www.jonvanzyle.com (January 15, 2007).