SILVERTHORNE, Colo. (CBS4) – She calls it an embarrassment of riches, but one Colorado woman has devoted nearly a decade of her life to getting a family member’s art work recognized.
CBS4’s Jeff Todd saw just a fraction of the art catalogue in Silverthorne.
“This is the work of my Uncle Theodore Czebotar, and he was an American modernist,” Pati Hamilton said.
It’s the arc of an artist’s career — 60 years’ worth of paintings, sketches, oils and pastels — every piece saved. But now, nearly two decades after his death, Czebotar’s niece is trying to get his work recognized.
“I didn’t know my uncle very well and now I’m trying to first inventory to find out exactly what we have, and then see if we can’t re-introduce him to the world,” Hamilton said.
Czebotar started out as a hobo traveling the rail lines.
“He was a wanderer.”
He spent time on the West Coast, and in Colorado from Denver to Central City.
“His calling was art, that’s really all he was ever interested in.”
It’s actually his time as a hobo that romanticized his art when he moved to Manhattan during World War II.
“The New York newspapers thought that was pretty exciting. Here’s this hobo artist, they called him, who was a little bit rough around the edges.”
He was too stubborn to keep selling or showing art, so he stopped. But he kept drawing and painting.
“There’s thousands, and thousands and thousands.”
Hamilton says she’s overseeing the inventory of nearly 10,000 pieces and she’s trying to do what her uncle stopped doing — show his art. But she’s having a hard time.
“I actually thought you could just knock on the door of a museum and say, ‘Here’s a nice painting for your collection.’ And I found out that’s not true at all … you can’t even really give a museum a piece of art without going through a process.”
It’s a process that’s now taken her nearly a decade, but she says there’s a finish line in sight.
“That’s my thinking, that he saved it because he hoped someday, somebody would tell his story.”