Photos by G. Art by Jef Campion/Army of One.
Castle Fitzjohns Gallery in New York is currently paying tribute to one of the art world’s fallen soldiers – Jef Campion aka Army of One. Campion’s most recognizable work as street artist Army of One was a message to give peace a chance, to stop violence and to end all war. On the streets of New York or Los Angeles, you could often see Diane Arbus’ iconic “Grenade Boy” image mashed up with messages of love and peace from Army of One.
Jef Campion was more than an artist – he was also a firefighter, who was one of the first respondents in the 9/11 tragedy, and he worked tirelessly with the Ronald McDonald House to help sick children. Though in person Jef was one of the sweetest guys you’d ever want to meet, in private, he battled a lot of inner demons and Jef passed on in early 2014.
This exhibit showcases many pieces that his fans are familiar with, as well as many unseen works that show a completely different side of his art. During his life, he invited me to his studio many times, but our schedules could never coordinate and I am sad that I will never get to speak with him about these great works of art, most of which I was seeing for the first time at this retrospective exhibit.
I’ve known Jef for several years and of course we bonded over having the same name (though different spellings) and we also lived in the same neighborhood, so I’d see him out and about at art functions and of course, his art is all over the streets of Los Angeles and New York, so his presence was always felt. This exhibit is a beautiful and touching tribute to a beautiful man. I hope you go see it. If you can’t make it, at least ponder Jef’s mission statement: Give Peace A Chance! Rest in peace, my friend.
Castle Fitzjohns Gallery is located at 98 Orchard Street.