Gerard Robrecht of Asbury Park, aka Arthur Kill, a musician and artist provocateur whose “Stinky Cheese” graffiti tags were ubiquitous in the city, has died.
Robrecht died in his sleep of natural causes in his Asbury Park home on June 28, his family announced.
He was 64.
Robrecht, a native of Hillside, made a name for himself on the Jersey music scene as the frontman for Arthur Kill and The Pollutants, a noted avant-garde punk combo. He later became involved in Asbury Park music happenings behind the scenes as a stage hand and technician.
He worked at the Stone Pony, Fast Lane and city music festivals. He played an important role in the creation of the Great Bamboozle and Skate and Surf festivals, said music promoter John D’Esposito.
“So many shows got off the ground because of him,” D’Esposito said. “When nobody was in Asbury Park, Arthur was still working here.”
He so cared for the city that he wanted to make sure the coming redevelopment would include all, friends said. The “Stinky Cheese” tag, which followed a series of clown-themed tags, served as a visual reminder of the humble roots of the city.
“A lot of politicians felt they were the big cheese … during that time in the ’90s,” said Eileen Chapman, an Asbury Park City Councilperson. “Arthur believed they should be as righteous as they believed they were, so that’s where that tag came from.”
The Stinky Cheese tag was also a critique of the new city construction, said sister Maureen Robrecht Denman.
“It was his way of letting the developers know their products were inferior,” Robrecht Denman said.
“He was the (Jean-Michel) Basquiat of Asbury Park,” D’Esposito said, referring to the influential American artist who gained fame in the 1980s.
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Robrecht’s impact was felt beyond the arts
“There’s an entire community mourning Arthur,” Chapman said. “We’re all heartbroken by his passing and there were so many sides to him. He was stagehand, 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 those dunes by pulling in Christmas trees from the dump,” said Robrecht Denman.
Robrecht helped save the life of a 92-year old Ocean Grove resident during the 2017 fire there, his sister said. “He wanted to take care of the people around him,” Robrecht Denman said.
“Arthur was like a brother to me,” said Jason Dermer, head of Asbury Audio. “We shared a love for music, comedy, and obscure art, yet could fight like there was no tomorrow. He helped make the music and art communities in this town what they are today, and I will miss him dearly.”
Robrecht was engaged twice but never married and had no children. A memorial service is being planned for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Asbury Park.
“He was righteous, he was religious, he was passionate. He was sometimes outspoken but always in a way to help the underdog,” Chapman said. “He never wanted to see anyone be down and out.”
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Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; [email protected]