Thursday, January 30, 2014

rip army of one.

last week our friend amy forwarded us a post from brooklyn street art that was a bummer.  jef campion, known among lovers of street art as army of one, had died.  well, this was a case of the good dying young.  i never met him in person, but we had discourse a few times when he commented on this blog (he was one of this blog's few followers,) and he was a private inspiration to me.

jef tried to ignite political action through art.  i don't know if he really hoped to spark a pacifists revolution, but from what he had to say in response to posts here it's certain he wished for one.

perhaps his overwrought language, his manifesto... was a sign of unbalance.  perhaps it was part of an art persona, his jc2 army of one character. and perhaps it was meant be taken with a degree of humor.  i suspect a little of each.

all i know is in a cynical world his was an urgent unashamed plea for peace. to this end his iconic image, the imploring "grenade boy," modified from a diane arbus photo, appeared wherever the army travelled, from coast to coast in this land, and beyond.

i loved his work, and his message.  an exciting contrast to the usual jaded urban pessimism. tender in the generally tough street art milieu.

but jc2 was a very tough guy.  a new york city firefighter, in his fifties, he was  a ground zero responder in the aftermath of of the 9/11 attacks... they profoundly affected him.  being himself no stranger to ptsd, abuse, addiction and recovery, jef devoted his life to protecting others, and in his spare time he volunteered for children's charities.

this post is about the army's message, i'll have more on his art, and monikers, in future.

rip jc2.  i wish a thousand armys could rise to take your place, but i know you can never be duplicated, even by one.