A New ‘Peace’ Of Artwork Hits The Road
July 25, 2011
London Metro News
Greenwashing has become vogue in these days of nearly universal concern about global warming. There’s a lot of talk, but not many who walk their talk. One of those who does is Jim Kogelheide.
Known to his thousands of Facebook friends as Peaceman Jim and to hundreds of London school children as Mr. Jim, Kogelheide is a peace activist, artist, art teacher and environmentalist all wrapped up in the guise as a bus driver.
For the past couple of years, he’s driven the ‘Peace Bus’ which is a regular Murphy Lines school bus decorated with art created by the kids who ride it everyday to and from school.
Having studied graphic design at Fanshawe College, Kogelheide travelled around the country for five years with his wife Joanne Custy, working on the Canada: Glorious To Be national mural project. The duo spent their time creating their art and talking to school kids and community groups about art, peace and the environment. Kogelheide and Custy returned to the city they loved (London) and settled down here in 2004.
Though his Stikman series (stick figures spreading the peace message) has enjoyed some notoriety as he distrubuted it the country during his travels, Kogelheide realized that being a full-time artist is a hard way to make a living. But a serendipitous moment came when he was gazing out the window of his Byron home one day, contemplating his next move down his winding life’s journey, when a school bus passed by. An epiphany occurred: as a school bus driver, he’d make a steady income and still have time for his twin passions of gardening his veggie patch and volunteering in community organizations that promote sustainable living and environmental causes.
After driving his plain bus for a while, Kogelheide noticed another driver had butterfly drawings all over her bus. After checking with the boss, he posted some of his own peace-based artwork. The kids were intrigued. He threw it out as a challenge and got the kids excited about making art about peace and the environment. He offered a contest to up the ante a bit.
The kids love having their artwork displayed on the windows and ceiling of the Peace Bus, but none are displayed on windows that obstruct sightlines.
The Peace Bus rocks with kids’ voices raised in song and is one of the most colourful on the road. Give it a wave or thumbs up next time the Peace Bus rolls your way. Check out bitsandpeaces.com
Notes about this article by Jim Kogelheide 2015
1) I have made two amendments to this article – both of which are written in italics print.
2) I have put capitals on the words Peace Bus.
3) The article suggests that my wife and I both were involved in community outreach programs while travelling across Canada, but these were just my initiatives. My wife was rather busy with her own interests.
4) I always think that it’s interesting to see words like serendipitous and epiphany in news stories that talk about my life’s journey. These words add validation to my own autobiographical documentary ‘An Accidental Artist’!