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Published: Wednesday, 7/20/2005

Professional artist also played guitar

IDA, Mich. - Jean Wetzler, 89, a popular artist whose work was showcased in a number of Toledo-area exhibits and competitions, died Monday in St. Joseph Mercy Saline Hospital.

She died of complications from pneumonia, her son Christopher said.

She had a natural ability when it came to art and always had a paintbrush in hand, Mr. Wetzler said.

"It was her identity, and you didn't want to suggest to her she was a housewife [who] didn't work or say that painting was a hobby," he said. "It was her profession, and she worked very hard at it."

Mr. Wetzler's home is filled with his mother's abstract interpretations of seascapes, landscapes, and other natural scenes. Corporate owners of her paintings included Blue Cross in Toledo, Toledo Edison, Riverside Hospital, and the Monroe County Library System. The U.S. government bought five paintings in 1942.

Mrs. Wetzler lived most of her life in Ida, with her younger years spent in Toledo, her son said. She kept strong connections to the city as a member of the Toledo Area Professional Artist Society and Toledo Artists Club. She was also a member of local, state, and national watercolor societies.

Watercolors were her primary art form, but she also worked with acrylics and oils. She used to make her own paper to vary the texture of her pieces. Her husband, Robert, who died in 1987, built frames for her paintings.

Mrs. Wetzler had more than 60 awards to her credit and more than 25 of her works were shown in exhibitions, her son said.

She studied at the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts school, Meinzingers Art School in Detroit, and the School of Art and Design at the Toledo Museum of Art.

She was one of the first artists in the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, which began in 1960. The 2005 edition of the fair opens today.

When she wasn't creating her own pieces, Mrs. Wetzler taught local artists and critiqued their works.

"She really helped me see things in a different way. Her way of approaching things was so much different than other artists at the time," said Dianne Trabbic of Temperance, who began taking lessons from Mrs. Wetzler in the mid 1960s.

Mrs. Wetzler enjoyed playing guitar and flower gardening.

Surviving are her sons, Christopher and Mitchell; daughter, Susan Dunleavy; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Memorial services will be held at 6 p.m. Friday in Capaul Funeral Home, Ida, where visitation will begin at 4 p.m. Friday.

The family suggests tributes to the Alzheimer's Association.

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