40th Anniversary Edition of Official Rate Art
“One of the most beautiful…nights of my life was spent on the long trail to Nome. Then northern lights lit up the sky at times as bright as day…as we watched them in awe. The sounds they made and their dancing bright colors are one of my fondest memories of 1976…Iditarod.”
Jon Van Zyle
"Jon and his team left the White Mountain checkpoint at about sunset and headed for Nome. Daylight dimmed into darkness and the show began: it was the most incredible all-night lightshow performance Jon had ever seen. While sloshing through Fish Creek, a crescendo of brilliant light accompanied by a swooshing sound stopped the team in their tracks. The shimmering light was bright enough to cast shadows on the snow and held Jon and the dogs transfixed.
Jon swore on a stack of Bibles that he would not paint the Northern Lights because he couldn’t capture the ephemeral qualities with paint and brush – all that changed in 1993 when he received an airbrush for Christmas. After much experimentation, he premiered his newfound skills in the 1994 poster. Although the subtleties of Jon’s current airbrush skills in rendering Northern Lights far outshines earlier efforts, it was a start…and a very popular poster. Auroras are one of the rewards when enduring Alaska’s long dark winters; we are awestruck by the mesmerizing, magical movement of the lighted streamers. Auroras can pulsate and dance merrily across the sky, flutter and billow like sheets on a clothesline, or radiate like a religious experience. One of the largest aurora study centers is the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Article written by Jona Van Zyle