Gerard Robrecht of Asbury Park, aka Arthur Kill, a provocative musician and artist whose “Stinky Cheese” graffiti tags were ubiquitous in the city, has passed away.
Robrecht died in his sleep of natural causes at his Asbury Park home on June 28, his family announced.
He was 64 years old.
Robrecht, from Hillside, made a name for himself in the Jersey music scene as the frontman of Arthur Kill and The Pollutants, a renowned avant-garde punk combo. He later became involved in the musical events of Asbury Park behind the scenes as a stagehand and technician.
He has worked at Stone Pony, Fast Lane and Town music festivals. He was instrumental in the creation of the Great Bamboozle and Skate and Surf festivals, said music promoter John D’Esposito.
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“So many shows have come about because of him,” D’Esposito said. “When no one was in Asbury Park, Arthur still worked here.”
He cared so much about the city that he wanted to make sure that the upcoming redevelopment included everyone, friends said. The “Stinky Cheese” label, which followed a series of clown-themed labels, served as a visual reminder of the city’s humble roots.
“A lot of politicians thought they were the big cheese… back in the ’90s era,” said Eileen Chapman, member of Asbury Park City Council. “Arthur believed they should be as fair as they thought they were, so that’s where that label came from.”
The Stinky Cheese label was also a criticism of the city’s new construction, Sister Maureen Robrecht Denman said.
“It was his way of letting developers know their products were inferior,” said Robrecht Denman.
“He was the (Jean-Michel) Basquiat of Asbury Park,” D’Esposito said, referring to the influential American artist who rose to prominence in the 1980s.
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Robrecht’s impact was felt beyond the arts
“There is a whole community mourning Arthur,” Chapman said. “We are all heartbroken by his passing and he had so many sides. He was a machinist, a lighting designer, he was a chef, he was an environmentalist. The sand dunes on the beach between Asbury Park and Ocean Grove were built by him.
“He single-handedly built these dunes by pulling Christmas trees from the landfill,” said Robrecht Denman.
Robrecht helped save the life of a 92-year-old Ocean Grove resident in the 2017 fire, his sister said. “He wanted to take care of the people around him,” said Robrecht Denman.
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“Arthur was like a brother to me,” said Jason Dermer, director of Asbury Audio. “We shared a love for music, comedy and dark art, but we could fight like there was no tomorrow. He helped make this city’s musical and artistic communities what they are today, and I will be sorely missed.
Robrecht has been engaged twice but has never been married and has no children. A memorial service is planned for Notre-Dame du Mont. Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Asbury Park.
“He was righteous, he was religious, he was passionate. He was blunt at times, but always in a way that helped the underdogs, ”Chapman said. “He never wanted to see anyone on the ground.”
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Chris Jordan, originally from Jersey Shore, covers the entertainment and features of the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; [email protected]