Art of the Alaska Reading Room

On the 4th floor of the library is the Alaska Reading Room, which exhibits documents instrumental to Alaska’s petition to become the 49th state. Photos and letters have been donated by Mary and George Sundborg, parents of Seattle University president, Father Stephen Sundborg. George Sundborg was an important advocate for the Alaska statehood movement.

On the walls opposite the main display case are two paintings, Alaskan Summer (1963) by Alaskan artist Fred Machetanz, and Fight Song(unknown) by North Central Washington artist William F. Reese.

Fred Machetanz, “Alaskan Summer”

Machetanz, named Alaskan Artist of the Year in 1977 and American Artist of the Year in 1981 by American Artist magazine, was born in Ohio in 1908. He first traveled to Alaska in 1935 to visit relatives, but returned to the Midwest to study art at Ohio State University, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the American Academy of Art. After World War II, Machetanz returned to Alaska where he married and settled in the town of Palmer. Fred passed away in 2002. His friend Tennys Owens remarked, “Fred was the last living painter who could paint the Romantic period of Alaska’s history from personal experience.” (

William F. Reese’s, “Fight Song”

William F. Reese traveled around much of the Pacific Northwest and Northern California before opening a gallery and making his home in Wenatchee. Working mostly in oil paint, Reese was a versatile artist who experimented with many different types of media, and exhibited his works throughout the United States and abroad. He was the recipient of many national and regional awards. He passed away in 2010.

Check out this YouTube video from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage: “Reese’s Pieces: The Art & Life of William F. Reese” [youtube=]

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