Jamey and Chuck, and their “Wings of Hope”

 In Art & Gallery News

It is said that art gives us meaning and helps us better understand our world. Science agrees that art can and does improve the quality of life. In some cases, art can do even more, providing an emotional reaction, tethering us to memories, people, and places, and showing us a way forward.

Jamey and Chuck Weber didn’t plan on buying art on their Western Caribbean Carnival cruise in January. They’d been on several cruises and in their words, “Have never once stepped foot in an art gallery.” And yet magic was in the air and serendipity was swirling around the ship. Jamey Weber remembers that after their first dinner, the couple stepped into the Park West Gallery to participate in the art scavenger hunt. It sounded fun and something to do between trivia contests and corn hole tournaments (one of which Chuck won on a prior sailing)! She figured out all the clues and won a bid credit to the cruise’s first art auction. They didn’t know it yet, but art was about to change their lives forever.

On February 15, 2023, 11 months before this Carnival Legend sailing, Jamey’s husband Chuck was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was just 49 years old. She told us that, “While in the hospital facing a life-altering diagnosis he had one teary-eyed request: To take another Carnival cruise, a cruise that may be his last.” After a successful craniotomy, the Weber’s received official word on the pathology. Chuck has Glioblastoma Malforme, a devastating and deadly brain cancer.

Jamey got to work immediately. She called Jeannie Zakk, their PVP from their very first Carnival cruise, and booked almost a year ahead to get the best deal on a balcony cabin. Money was now front and center as Jamey was suddenly the only source of income for the family. Fast forward to Jan 28, 2024. The Webers boarded the Legend with Chuck’s mother and his niece, along with her family. They all wanted to share this trip with Chuck and Jamey, especially not knowing what the future holds.

After that Park West art scavenger hunt, the Webers got hooked. Jamey says they “Went to every art event on the ship and became very friendly with both Ty, the auctioneer, and the gallery direct Charńe,” adding that “They are both STELLAR people!” The Webers also met two huge art fans at the events — Lisa and Kelly — sisters from West Virginia and South Carolina, respectively.

We’ll let Jamey tell the rest of this story in her words:

“On the night of the VIP art show my husband and I sat in the first row chatting with other friends we had made at other art events. Toward the end, Ty unveiled a painting that had only just gotten on the ship with us in Baltimore. That painting was ‘Wings of Hope’ by Michael Godard. He painted it in memory of his teenage daughter Paige who passed away from Medullablastoma, a devastating form of childhood brain cancer. My sweet, gentle, teddy bear of a husband sat there with tears streaming down his face. That is how powerful the reaction was to that work of art. Charńe had come over to make sure he was ok and he told her a bit about his story. The wheels started to turn inside my head. How was I going to be able to secure this painting for him? “Wings of Hope” was an out-of-reach work of art for us, but Charńe and I put our heads together and I was able to secure a line of credit through the Park West financing card. But it wasn’t quite enough. There wasn’t anything else I could do.”

Godard’s “Wings of Hope” is a stunning painting created after a horrific tragedy, the loss of a child. Chuck’s reaction was in part to the story of its origin and the video of Godard that played before the work was unveiled, but also because of the hummingbirds that feature prominently in the art work. He lost his sister to cancer, who bravely battled three different types, and she was a big fan of hummingbirds. While they had never been inside a Park West art gallery on a cruise ship, the couple have always liked Godard and his artwork thanks to a small gallery the artist had at the Caesars Pier in Atlantic City, a short 30-minute drive from their home near Long Beach Island, New Jersey. They saw his Vegas themes, fun bar art, and olives, and were intrigued way back then. They couldn’t have imagined during those trips to Atlantic City that Godard would one day make such a meaningful, beautiful connection to them and their lives.

It was now the last sea day. “Wings of Hope” was still there and Chuck’s emotions were still very much stirred — Godard’s daughter Paige, the hummingbirds, his sister, and his own terminal diagnosis. It was all almost too much. The Webers attended the finale art auction and Charńe asked Jamey to stop into the gallery later that night. She sent Chuck to the comedy show and made her way to the gallery to see what’s up.

Jamey told us that she reiterated to Charńe that there was, “No way I could make the purchase happen. I couldn’t afford to overextend myself, especially not now.” Charńe just smiled and then blindsided Jamey by telling her that someone anonymously donated $1,000 toward the price of the painting, a sum of money that made it possible for her to collect Michael Godard’s powerful work of art, to give this remarkably emotional work of art to Chuck. It turns out that an anonymous art lover and cruiser had overheard their conversation the night the painting was unveiled and was moved to help. Jamey was floored and since both parties agreed, they got to meet this person — it was Lisa! Lisa from West Virginia, one of the amazing sisters the Webers had befriended during the cruise. Chuck was beside himself. He’s been on the other side of such kindness and karma, helping out when people needed it, but never before had he or Jamey received such a gift from a stranger. He asked if he could hug Lisa and she said yes, of course, and Jamey took their picture in front of the painting with Ty and Charńe.

What are the chances of that specific painting boarding that ship on that itinerary with the Webers? What are the chances that an angel would also be there and offer a helping hand?
Call it chance. Call it fate. Call it the power of human kindness.

Jamey and Chuck Weber have 22 years of history together. They have been through a lot. Seeing Chuck happy and witnessing his joy in being with his family during that week made all the struggle of making the trip happen worth it, admitted Jamey. And then, she says, to see him staring at the painting with tears rolling down his face, completely gobsmacked, that really hits you hard. Now, with the help of Lisa, a new friend they still speak with weekly, that painting hangs above their bed.

Chuck says that “Throughout my journey, Jamey has been my rock. I don’t know what I would have done without her. This was serendipitous and has restored our faith in people.”

There is, unfortunately, a very good chance that Chuck and Jamey have gone on their last cruise together, according to Jamey, but she says, “If that trip is the way our cruise travel ends…it was worth it thanks to Lisa, Ty, Charńe, and of course, the amazing Michael Godard.

This was a ripple effect from one serendipitous moment in time, centered on a powerful work of art, and amplified by raw human emotion and kindness, proving once again that art continues to improve lives and bring people together. Finally, as if there wasn’t enough serendipity in this story, as we talked to Jamey and Chuck on the phone on a Tuesday evening in May, the first hummingbird of the season arrived at their window. No one ended that call with dry eyes.

Are you cruising this year? Let us make your next cruise vacation extra special with a complimentary $100 art credit plus a gift when you pre-register for your next cruise and check-in at the onboard art gallery.

 

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