I’ve been telling anyone who will listen my retirement plans. I plan to retire to Jon and Jona Van Zyle’s home. It is truly the most amazing place on earth. Not only to they have a dog yard full of beautiful and friendly huskies, their home and studio are filled from floor to ceiling with the most amazing collection of art and artifacts. Everywhere you look there is something new and interesting to see!
The Van Zyles routinely invite the teacher conference groups to their home for an evening of stories, dog hugs, and conversations about art. Jon Van Zyle is an amazing artist and book illustrator and serves as the Iditarod’s official artist. Each year he creates a special poster and a numbered print commemorating a different aspect of the race. He is himself an Iditarod finisher, so he is the perfect person to take on this job. His wife Jona is an amazing artist in her own right. She works with textiles and beadwork. Her studio area is a wonderful conglomeration of stuff – beads, furs, leather, horn – all piled on her work space to provide instant inspiration. Jon’s space is a little more sparse – just a palate, a pile of paint tubes, and a cup of brushes. But somehow the two different spaces represent the two different artists perfectly.
The teachers enjoyed their visit to the dog yard and studio, collected some artwork to take home for their own, and relaxed in the gracious and welcoming home of the Van Zyles. It is something I look forward to in every trip I take to Alaska, and once again I am thankful to have had a chance to visit my dream retirement home! I finally told Jon last night of my plans and he left me a glimmer of hope, “Maybe someday we’ll need someone to come and help us do things.” Sign me up!