Dale DeArmond

Dale DeArmond

Dale Frances Burlison was born July 2, 1914, on a homestead near Dickinson, North Dakota. A prolific artist whose works are in the permanent collections of a number of institutions, DeArmond was known especially for her wood engraving illustrations of the mythology and folklore of Alaska. Her husband was offered a position in the office of newly appointed territorial Gov. B. Frank Heintzleman in 1953, and the family moved to Juneau. As a consolation for leaving Sitka, her husband gave her a membership in the four-year Famous Artists correspondence course. She finished the course in three years, producing art in a range of media, from pen-and-ink illustration to painting and zinc plate lithography.

In Juneau, DeArmond worked initially for the Alaska Territorial Library, moving eventually to the Juneau city library, where she was director from 1958 until her retirement in 1979. Throughout the Juneau years, and after the DeArmonds’ return to Sitka in 1991, her artistic creativity flourished. Wood engravings proved to be her favorite medium, one that lent itself particularly to images from her mind. She attended a wood engraving school on the shore of Lake Michigan, illustrated magazine stories and books, taught classes in the medium at the University of Alaska Southeast in Sitka, and produced hundreds of prints, large and small.

“I’m an illustrator by instinct and choice and I’ve always been interested in myths and folk tales …. My adult life has been spent in Alaska and the myths and folk tales of the Alaska Native people provide me with a rich fund of subjects,” she once wrote.

A major subject was the raven. One became the original design for Sitka’s Raven Radio, and among the many books she illustrated was “Raven: A Collection of Woodcuts,” published by Northwest Publishing Co. in 1975.

The artist passed away in 2006.

-Excerpts from this biography are from her obituary in the Juneau Empire, published Wednesday, November 29, 2006.