To truly understand Angela Funk, you need to realize how important art was in her life.
So, for some, there simply is no better way to celebrate her life and honor her memory than through an exhibit of the art that bears her name … viewing her work to get to know Funk on a deeper level and to help those who knew her find a way to grieve her.
Funk died of cancer in May, relatively suddenly, at the age of 45. While it certainly isn’t the only thing that she has left behind, those who knew her say her art was one of the most beautiful ways she impacted this world.
Read More: Angela C. Funk (1975-2021)
“I think friendship has clouded my judgment, but she was extremely talented,” said Courtney Reimann, a close friend and the driving force behind the exhibit. “I like to dabble in art, but I think there’s this level of recognition from other artists that Angie had a lot of talent. It appeals to viewers on an art level and an emotional level. Everyone can appreciate her art.”
“I think how she will be remembered depends on how people knew her,” Reimann added. “To me, it feels like gone too soon. Like, life interrupted. It doesn’t feel fair. She was a warm, engaging person. But everything does happen for a reason.”
The Angela C. Funk Legacy Exhibit will be presented to the community from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 6, at the Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts headquarters at 770 Cumberland St., as part of downtown Lebanon’s first Friday celebration. The exhibit will be open to the public through the month of August.
“Angie’s family brought a lot of her artwork to display at the visitation,” said Reimann, referring to a formal ceremony conducted in May. “At that time, I think there were a lot of people who didn’t realize she was so talented. She was kind of private with her artwork. The family really liked the idea of the arts council displaying more of her work. They did most of the hanging (at Gallery 770). It was difficult, but it was nice, too.
“I feel like it’s nice for her friends and coworkers because she kind of disappeared from their lives,” she continued. “She didn’t see a lot of people, and she didn’t want people to see her. She didn’t go back to work. There may have been people who weren’t comfortable going to her visitation. It’s part of the grieving process and a celebration of her work.”
“I think she loved life and saw beauty in everything around her,” said Bob Funk, Angela Funk’s father. “She expressed it through her art. She always had a very positive attitude about her life and friends and family, and it showed in her art. I think she showed that with a lot of color.”
The Angela C. Funk Legacy Exhibit will feature about 30 examples of Funk’s art, mostly paintings — primarily watercolor — and some pottery, mixed media presentations, stained glass and painted rocks.
A life-long artist, Funk’s greatest influence was the great American female painter Georgia O’Keeffe, but her work expresses her view of life and represents her procedural meticulous nature, which also served her well in her job with quality assurance documentation at Bayer Pharmaceuticals in Myerstown.
Funk derived the greatest enjoyment from sketching and then painting nature, flowers, animals and birds, those who knew her said.
“With her, a lot of her work was done with watercolors, but it started with a sketch,” said Reimann. “She was very good at looking at something and sketching it out as a first step. She was good at fine, detailed drawings and choosing colors. She really made things come to life. She made things pop.”
“I think it was an outlet for her emotions,” she added. “Some people aren’t content when they’re not creating. With her, there was a satisfaction that came from completing the process. She would take her time with the details, which is why she was good at her job — that quality control part. That careful approach and thinking through every step.”
“Looking back on it, I knew art was important to her, but I’m not sure I realized how fundamentally important it was in her life,” Bob Funk said. “I think it was an extremely important part of her life. I think it was a side of her that I didn’t completely know about. I suspect that there were times when she worked on it from the time she got home from work until the time she went to bed.”
Funk was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer near the beginning of 2021 and passed away about five months later.
Because of that short time frame, Funk could not complete many of the works she had started. While that may have been a source of personal frustration for her, it provides novices a unique insight into Funk’s creative process.
“There was a technical side to her and a very artistic side to her,” said Reimann. “Just like there was a careful side to her and a free side to her. She had just started traveling. She had just kind of started doing things she always had wanted to do. She made a lot of friends wherever she went. She was just a solid, warm, giving person who was always up for trying new things. She was curious and wanted to learn new things.”
“I think this exhibit will sort of provide a way to conjure up her presence or kind of bring her to life,” Reimann added. “Just to talk and laugh and remember her. It’s going to be harder on some people to remember her. She was always kind of critical of herself, with some of her paintings. Like, ‘Will people think I’m an impostor if I say I’m an artist?’ I’m sure she’d be fine with the exhibit, but she may not agree with the things being hung up. It’s sort of like being revealed.”
“I think she was very private with it,” Funk’s father noted. “I don’t think she realized how talented she was. If she didn’t like something, she didn’t sign her name to it. But some of the things she didn’t sign were very good. She was very quiet in that regard.”
A one-time board member and secretary for the Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts, Funk was a resident of Mount Gretna, where she was involved in that vibrant art community.
Funk, who was born in Lebanon on Oct. 28, 1975, to Gail Haulman and Robert Funk, graduated from Messiah College and also enjoyed hiking, gardening and traveling.
“Angie was always inclined to the arts,” said Reimann. “Growing up, she loved to paint at home, and she would take art classes. She was inspired by other artists. She always used art as a mental outlet. She was highly artistic, but very private. She would use her artworks as gifts, or she’d keep it. She was also very comfortable in the role of teacher.”
“Life can be short,” Reimann continued. “You’re not promised tomorrow. If you want to do it, do it; make the plans. And make sure your loved ones know how you feel about them.”
“Yes, it’s very meaningful,” said Bob Funk. “Our family really appreciates the art council doing this. It’s a way for her lifelong friend (Reimann) and her family to honor her.
“I think she’d be fine with this.”
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