Remembering Ed Funk 

click to enlarge "Dolly's Dress," the final piece Funk completed before his death.
  • "Dolly's Dress," the final piece Funk completed before his death.

The tributes weren't long in coming following the August 2013 death of Ed Funk, the accomplished artist and Dolphin Papers owner. “If Herron, iMOCA, Harrison Center and the like are the body of the local art scene, Ed was the blood that was coursing through its veins, below the surface, authentic, necessary and lasting,” wrote Mark Ruschman in his Sky Blue Window column. “Ed was a great guy, a talented and thoughtful artist, and offered me and countless others continual encouragement throughout our careers,” said Wug Laku in another Sky Blue Window piece.

But words can only go so far. Denise Charboneau-Eickhoff, an organizer of a Funk retrospective opening Saturday at Gallery 924, says it “was in the back of everyone’s mind that there needed to be a show.” Charboneau-Eickhoff started the ball rolling in January when she contacted the Arts Council's Shannon Linker. The Gallery 924 show is the first of two Funk exhibitions this year, with a second planned for October at UIndy.

click to enlarge "Hirohito"
  • "Hirohito"

Funk, who served in the Navy in the late '70s and graduated from Herron School of Art and Design in 1988, was a source of inspiration and knowledge to his fellow artists. He earned the friendship and trust of those with whom he did business as owner of Dolphin Papers, which Funk purchased in 1996. From 1999 to 2009, Dolphin Papers occupied the largest storefront in Fountain Square's Murphy Arts Center, which Funk co-founded.

Funk was profoundly knowledgeable about art history and technique and loved to share his knowledge. “It seems like his comfort zone was mentoring and nurturing other artists,” says Charboneau-Eickhoff. “One on one, or even with a small group he was great with.”

But Funk didn’t exhibit his work all that often.

“There was something intimidating about letting the public in to judge,” she says, “because no matter what there’s always some person who doesn’t like something about what you’ve done.”

Funk was a prolific painter and print maker, but his approach was different in each media.

"Paintings allowed him to work large and be sloppy," says Charboneau-Eickhoff. "There was more focus on color whereas with his prints he paid a lot of attention to detail.”

The show at Gallery 924 will focus mostly on Funk’s paintings.

“It’s not just one series,” says Charboneau-Eickhoff. "We’re looking at a lifetime of work. We want it to look good when hung next to another piece and that’s why we were trying to focus our energy more towards painting but not forget about the printmaking."

Charboneau-Eickhoff, an artist herself, is married to painter Matthew Eickhoff, who continues to work at Dolphin Papers, now located in Franklin. The Eickhoffs considered Funk a close friend and are organizing the show in tandem.

Asked about Funk’s legacy in the city, Charboneau-Eickhoff says, “I think that, when you think of human nature in general, we all want to be remembered when we pass. I feel that Ed has done enough to be remembered.”

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