A UNIQUE PROJECT WITH AN EVEN MORE UNIQUE BACKSTORY
PERSEVERANCE, SKILL AND A CHANCE ENCOUNTER
Jamie Roberts, facing the hardships of navigating a business during the Age of COVID-19, unlocked a never-before seen treasure trove of original early 1970s Black and White India Ink drawings, sprung from the once steady hand of recent Stage 2 colon cancer survivor Charles Ecker. From the first drawing, “Uni,” she has gone on to create a color-dripped collection of “Distinctly Dazzling Doodles.” The color palettes she works with pay homage to the era in which they were first created, a period when the Pop and Psychedelic art movements influenced the culture of the time.
Fifty years ago, a G.I. stationed in Seoul, Korea in his 20s, bought a small container of India Ink, a fine-tipped pen, and some large sheets of heavy-weight bright white poster board as a means of passing the time off-duty. Fast forward now to a young woman from South Florida, a skillful digital artist who is one of the first outside his immediate family to see what he had accomplished over ten years beginning in 1970. The two are bringing his Black and White free-form “doodles” into the third decade of the new century with color, pizzaz and punch.
Charles Ecker, of North Venice, Florida, met Jamie Roberts, living in Ft. Lauderdale, by chance. After seeing his body of work, she immediately expressed interest in teaming with him on a unique art project with an even more amazing backstory.
By the end of his overseas tour of duty, in the early 70s, Ecker had completed about 30 what he called “fancy doodles.” Unfortunately, all but two were water-damaged to varying degrees when his belongings were stored at the very bottom of a military cargo ship on its way back to the U.S. The majority of these works would sit in storage in Los Angeles for over 35 years, unseen by anyone except his mother and his wife.
Despite most pieces remaining out of sight, influential art editor Nick Ludington, of Art News, reviewed several of Charlie’s works in 1979 and encouraged him to build a wider audience. So, he submitted a drawing to The American Association of Certified Public Accountants, looking for a cover for its 1980 “Tax Rules Book.” It was quickly accepted for a handsome fee, with a tan background added.
One of the two undamaged drawings was also entered in a juried competition in his hometown of Utica, New York at the annual Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute and received an honorable mention. A copy of the 20” x 40” inch work was not photographed and the original was lost by a family member who had entered it. The second undamaged drawing, a stylized unicorn, remained. And this latter work is what Roberts first saw.
A CHANCE MEETING IN SUNCOAST FLORIDA
While unpacking upon arrival in Florida, Ecker lamented that it was possible none of his works would be appreciated by the public.
All these years, he notes, “I wished I could meet someone who could make my works sizzle and soar by using their digital expertise to ‘interpret' what I had done in clear and bold color!”
As fate would have it, Ecker met Roberts at a luncheon and she immediately saw the potential of adding dazzling color to his works. “I’m appreciative of art in any form and see validity in all different styles and perspectives. Often, I am particularly attracted to art that I would not normally make myself, as it reflects a way of seeing the world that differs from my own. Charlie's 'stream of consciousness' style of art definitely caught my eye!”
Ironically, independent of Ecker, Roberts has an impressive collection of color and Black and White renderings of her own distributed through Displate, Redbubble and Society6, among others.
With five works in the EckerRobertsArt collection “on stage” at Redbubble and Society6, recognition for these “dueling doodlers” is quickly building.
ADDED CRITICAL CREDIBILITY
In the Spring of 2021, Ecker and Roberts received critical acclaim with a modern art award from The Akademia Society, a new artist discovery center that spotlights innovators in all arts, including visual and music. The judge’s citation reads: “It is the opinion of The Akademia Board that this work represents an important contribution towards the diversity and advancement of the global art community.”
COMMON INTERESTS, DIVERGENT PATHS
Ecker, like Roberts, started early with interests in journalism. He turned his attention to music in his mid-30s, however. For the past decade, he has composed Country music and began an unbroken run at #1 for Sarasota Country in late March, 2019, which continued for 26 months. All his music is displayed at The C.R. Ecker Band Music (dot com) website.
Roberts’ senior year of high school in the Cheyenne, Wyoming area found her in a painting class, and she soon began studying creative advertising at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she received, in addition to her degree, a certificate in digital media that covered subjects such as 3D animation and web design. Those skills were carried into her early career, first in advertising and then as an entrepreneur assisting in the operations of both a family-owned outdoor adventure park in Costa Rica and aviation company in Colorado.
Now, 50 years in the making, a new chapter unfolds for Charles Ecker and Jamie Roberts, who had planned to launch their arts projects until he underwent colon cancer surgery, and then were buffeted, like millions of others, by the COVID-19 crush and their own personal business and medical challenges.
Notes Ecker: “But now there appears to be a new dawn for all with a signpost up ahead that has the smiling face of a Unicorn: Ours!”