The Artist

 

R.T. ''Skip'' Wallen 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. In 1984, he and his wife, Lynn, created and donated the bronze sculpture Windfall Fisherman to the city of Juneau. This study of an Alaskan brown bear, based on Wallen's field notes and sketches, stands in front of the Alaska State Capitol and was cited as ''the most photographed spot in the capital city.''

Since that time, Wallen has also completed monumental sculptures in Geneva, Amsterdam, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Whitehouse Station (NJ), and Houston. Outside of Juneau, his works in Alaska can be seen in Fairbanks (the Lend-Lease Memorial), in Nome (the Matthew Iya plaque), and Angoon (the Jimmy George grave monument), 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.