It is a jolt, a reminder of that when one day things are normal, the next day… it may not be. Our time on earth is precious. Justin Van Hoy was a husband, a friend, an artist, community builder, a fighter for so many. I didn’t know Justin well, but, his very presence and his gentle nature left a huge impression. I got to meet Justin for the first time back in 2009 through a good friend of mine, one of his closest friends, Chris Bettig.
Chris reached out to me, telling me about Justin’s fight with cancer. At that time, this was his second bout, he fought it the first time, squashed it, but, it came back. Chris wanted to organize an artshow and benefit for Justin. Hospital bills were sky high, he needed help and most importantly, the support and morale of the community. We jumped right in and offered our studio for the show. Chris got his friends involved in the show… we got our friends involved… the word quickly spread through the community… and in a matter of a few short weeks, hundreds of artists were involved in the show, all donating original works to benefit their friend, Justin Van Hoy. The days leading up to the event, friends would stop by our studio and drop off works, so stoked to be supporting Justin. On the night of the benefit, hundreds showed up, hollering for Justin… what was to be a “silent” auction turned into an open, loud megaphone for all of us to let Justin know we were all behind him. Every single piece of art, the several hundred pieces were all auctioned off. To witness the amount of love and support was incredible. It was that time, through Justin’s close friends, colleagues, and the creative community that I got to see how much love Justin had in his life. In 2009, Justin kicked cancer for the second time. His friends lifted him. He was a fighter.
After the event and after his treatment, Angie and I, Chris, and Justin went out for dinner. I finally got to meet him for the first time. We laughed, had drinks, shared food… it was normal, like nothing ever happened, like he didn’t fight cancer twice in his life. All of the love and generosity that was apparent that night of the event… it was all here, in Justin… it’s who he was.
Since that artshow, I would run into Justin quite a bit, and in that 3 years since, he went on to continue creating tons of work, he founded THIS Gallery to support hundreds of emerging artists, and recently published a new book, Milk and Honey, a rich book of contemporary, California artists… amazing artists that he supported and naturally, happened to be all of his friends. Justin was one of the sweetest, coolest guys and you got that right away whenever you were with him. Justin may not be here now on this earth, but, he is here with us always. It’s times like these, when someone leaves this life, you think about your own, your family, all of the people you love… and how precious this life is and how important it is to make the most of it.
Justin, if you can hear me… I wish I would have gotten to know you better. You left a deep impression on me as you have with so many others. You are loved, you will be missed.