On Saturday January 20th, Green Street Park on East 1st Street at the crossroads of the East Village and The LES (Lower East Side), the public came out to pay homage to fellow New York street artist, Jef Campion aka, Army of One who passed away on 1-17-14. Will Power, Kool Kito and Fumero joined together to resurrect the memory of Campion's contributions as Army of One /Jc2 who was an activist against war and the policies that put our men and women in the military into wars for profit. Campion's greatest message about who the horrors of war tragically impact the most are children.
Jef was a career long fireman at Engine Co. 303, Yonkers, NY. He risked his life for 25 years to save others. Affected by what he experienced being a 9/11 first responder, he give a helping hand for 40 days and nights never leaving Ground Zero. Witnessing the wake of devastation seen in the aftermath of the tragic event of 9/11, Jef went deep beneath the surface and the artistic phoenix rose up from the ashes and spawned a resurgence of creativity with messages "Give Peace a Chance" and "No More War". Army of One represented a symbol that one person can make a difference, that you and I are also that army and together we are an army of one. Jef was not one to just preach but to teach us that action speaks louder than words and that is why he gave 18 years to The Ronald McDonald House because his position was "you got'ta give back".
We all liked seeing Grenade Boy and in 2010 began to notice The Bride of War which Will Power included into his Army of One mural because those were the Twin Towers of Army of One's iconography. Jef always loved the image of Grenade Boy by Diane Arbus. Who wouldn't like the expressive and odd looking little boy in gray scale wearing suspender shorts holding a grenade, emphasized by the bright red Krink outline and drips, symbolic of spilled blood that was the trademark of Jef's street art. In 2012 Jef began using that helping hand of his by dipping it into enamel paint and applying his red stained imprint (see XCIA's Street Art Project author Hank O'Neal and published by Simon Media Group) onto his art which later cleverly evolved into another Army of One icon with his hand in the center of the letter I and NY, putting a new twist on the famous "I (red heart) NY" symbol.
Will Power beautifully recreated the ARMY OF ONE mural in the likeness of Jef's hand writing and got the public involved by placing their hand in red paint and adding their imprint onto the wall. People were very happy to take part in this tribute especially those that remember seeing his art all over NYC. Jef's friends were there and it was great talking to people and telling them about Jef's street and fine art mission. Army of One also showed in galleries not only in in NY but Los Angeles and Miami as well.
Jef had a big personality, full of character and energy but even bigger than that or his muscles was his big heart. He touched many peoples' lives in positive ways. Jef was a mentor, activist, firefighter, first responder, RMH donator, street artist, fine artist and a great friend who championed his cause for the innocent children.
A big 'thanks' to Will Power for contributing photographs for this article and of course to the organizing genius of the Centre-fuge Public Art Project