Ara Jo 1987-2016

By Hayley

It is with a heavy heart that we share that Ara Jo, who drew some of the pages for the 2013 Organizer, perished in the fire at the Ghost Ship art collective in Oakland on December 3.

I met Ara Jo at the Paco Dog Collar shop in 2012. I was handing out Slingshots. I had no idea if she worked there or was just hanging out or what. When she saw the Slingshot, she got super excited and mentioned she’d always wanted to draw pages for the Organizer, and it so happened there were some pages left, so she was able to join in. She was so flattered and tickled to have her work in Slingshot, it helped me feel excited about the project.

Ara Jo was a key figure at Oakland’s Rock, Paper, Scissors Collective and a prolific zinester. She was one of the main organizers of the East Bay Zine Fest. The numerous memorials that spanned the weeks after the fire were touching testaments to Ara Jo’s impact in several communities. Over and over at these memorials, friends described how infectious Ara Jo’s excitement was and how strongly she believed in the inner worth and creative projects of her friends. Although her passing leaves gaps in the lives of all who knew her, her presence imbued those around her with the courage of self-expression. Her bubbly enthusiasm about all things creative was contagious. It was great to have her at creative jam sessions. Her well-wrought line-art defiantly challenged social norms.

Now is the time to make art like our lives depend on it. For Ara’s memory, and for all the great artists we’ve just lost.