TUBAC — This weekend, the Hal Empie Gallery is celebrating a book release of a collection of the artist’s illustrations, and everyone’s invited.
The gallery in Tubac is celebrating the release of “Way Out West: Hal Empie’s Kartoon Kards the Collection” on Oct. 13, from 1-5 p.m.
The book marks the largest collection to date of the artist’s cartoons, with more than 384 images that include newspaper comics and postcards.
“Hal is best know and regarded for his fine art . . . (but) there was a time when he was also a cartoonist. This remarkable body of work is one of Arizona’s great legacies,” the gallery wrote.
Empie’s cartoons were recognized earlier this year when they were entered into the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University.
“During research for the book, I found 197 original large pen and ink cartoon drawings that became Empie Kartoon Kards. Well, I’m happy to say that they, along with the print blocks, will be leaving Tubac on Friday for the largest cartoon museum in the world,” Empie’s daughter, Ann Groves, said.
The Safford-born Empie was an icon of Duncan and Greenlee County society for many years. He was the only pharmacist in Duncan — the state’s youngest at 20 years old — and owned and operated the popular hangout called the Art Gallery Drug Store in downtown Duncan for almost a half-century.
For 47 years Empie could often be seen seated at his easel with brush in hand, painting when collectors, students, fellow artists, friends and other admirers stopped by to watch him seemingly create magic on a canvas. It was from the Art Gallery Drug that his work became respected and eventually world-renowned.
Empie’s mural, “Greenlee,” is 27 feet long by 5-1/2 feet wide and graces the wall above the serving counter at the Duncan School cafeteria. It was restored by the late fine arts conservator Sharlotte “Charlie” Burton, under the auspices of the Duncan PRIDE Society, in 2013-14.
“Way Out West: Hal Empie’s Kartoon Kards the Collection” is available for purchase online at http://halempiestudio-gallery.com/. The hardcover first edition is limited to 300 copies and will be signed by Groves.
Those interested in celebrating the book release at the gallery should call 520-398-2811.