By TIFFANY KJOS
Arizona Daily Star
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - After Earl Wettstein died three weeks ago, his friends were certain of 1 thing: His show must go on.
Wettstein, 81, had been preparing for 1 of the biggest exhibits of his life, at the Little Gallery at DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, 6300 N. Swan Road.
The ad agency owner-turned-artist died Jan. 9.
"When he died we weren't sure how we were going to do the show, but we still wanted to do it," said his daughter, Lisa Wettstein, 50.
Michael Bolchalk, with whom Wettstein owned Wettstein Bolchalk Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations years ago, and Bolchalk's business partner, Robyn Frey, rounded up a cadre of friends, family and members of the Southern Arizona Arts Guild to oversee the show in shifts during its 13-day run.
Wettstein was a member of the guild, along with being past member and president of many advertising groups.
"That was the first email we got reaching out to say 'Hey, let's try to do this,' and we were thinking, 'What are we going to do?'" Lisa Wettstein said.
She and her sister Gillian Wettstein chose the pieces to be displayed, and hung them on Saturday in the adobe gallery.
Earl Wettstein retired from advertising in 1996 and became an artist full time. He usually worked in oils but took on a new medium - woodblock prints - just for the DeGrazia show.
The exhibit includes works by Tucson oil painter Pam Davidson.
"I thought I was going to be by myself the whole time, so it's great," Davidson said of the help she's receiving staffing the exhibit.
"We're really lucky," said Gillian Wettstein, 46. "We're staying strong, but it wouldn't have been the same without them."
The exhibit showcases images of Wettstein's favorite topics, including Tucson landmarks and dogs - especially his favorite breed, the dachshund. Wettstein published several books, including "43 Reasons to Own a Dachshund" and "The Puppies Who Love Art," which Lisa Wettstein wrote and her dad illustrated.
Earl Wettstein met Davidson in April at a show at the Sheraton Tucson Hotel and Suites and asked her to be part of the Little Gallery exhibit.
"As soon as he was accepted we started planning," said Davidson, who has another exhibit, at Skyline Country Club that opened Jan. 24.
"Earl was going to be there and pass out fliers," she said. "The last email I had from him said, 'I'll see you in a few days.' "
The Little Gallery show opened Sunday. A steady stream of friends and strangers walked up the path to the gallery, many no doubt drawn by marketing the public-relations master had done recently.
"Dad sent out postcards a few weeks back," Lisa Wettstein explained.
Wettstein's wife, Sherie Broekema, took a quick look around the gallery before heading out.
Southern Arizona Arts Guild member Harry "Mo" Greene left Sunday's opening reception with 1 of Wettstein's woodblock prints under his arm.
Greene explained that Wettstein's subjects weren't always as innocuous as puppies and quaint buildings.
"He really had an interesting way of viewing everything. You always knew where he stood on everything. He tended to make statements with his art, and it often was based on political things that were going on.
"We always looked forward to what he would bring in," Greene said.
Although he'd had several art shows, nothing compared to the one at the Little Gallery, Greene said. "This was his coming-out party."
Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.azstarnet.com
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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