Monday, August 28, 2006

A Life Lived: Edward Sanders, 1946-2006 by Will Higgins, The Indianapolis Star

- Photo provided by PHILIP CAMPBELL

August 22, 2006

A LIFE LIVED: Edward Sanders, 1946-2006
Painter put his art before his sales

By Will Higgins

Edward Sanders was the quintessential old-school, hard-core artist. He painted from his heart, at the expense of commercial success, say people who knew him.

"To him, it was a very personal endeavor," said art dealer Mark Ruschmann, who had known the Indianapolis artist since the 1980s. "Like most artists he'd liked to have had more acclaim, more sales, but Ed didn't make easy work. It was challenging, often dark, introspective work. It didn't fall under the category of being decorative."

Mr. Sanders died Aug. 17 at age 59.

As an artist, he used dark colors and applied the paint thickly. He worked mostly in oils. His work was highly impressionistic. He did not try to schmooze patrons, either. But if he was indifferent to sales, Mr. Sanders did seek an audience. He showed his work frequently at galleries.

One of his few concessions to image was his insistence that he be photographed exclusively in profile. "Everybody looks good in profile," he explained to his longtime friend, the sculptor Marty Sharp.

In the mid-1980s, he was one of a handful of artists who started the 431 Gallery on Massachusetts Avenue, helping to transform that forlorn stretch into the city's arts district.

Mr. Sanders' chief income was from his work as an architect. He designed houses. But what drove him was his art.

Mr. Sanders was diagnosed with liver cancer this spring but continued to paint. His new paintings will be displayed at Flux Gallery in Fountain Square in October.

DeAnne Roth, Flux's co-director, said the new paintings are a departure for Sanders. The colors are still dark, but the subjects are whimsical -- a series of superheroes, including several of Superman, and a painting of Dean Martin. (Apparently Mr. Sanders liked to watch videotapes of Martin's TV variety show.)
"He talked about making his work more accessible to the public," Roth said.
Mr. Sanders also talked about making himself more accessible to the public. He was an intensely private person and not one for small talk. He was not comfortable chatting up collectors.

Recently, however, as the Oct. 6 opening reception approached, he asked Roth for pointers in becoming more sociable. "He was just naturally very private," Roth said, "but he said he'd try to make a bigger effort."

Mr. Sanders is survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Judi and Ed Marksberry; his close friend Sharp; and many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
His funeral was Monday at St. Roch Catholic Church.

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