Friends of Downtown artist Scot Rienecker have been sharing their memories today following the announcement that Rienecker succumbed to injuries sustained in a house fire on Sunday. Rienecker’s dog died as well, according to Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez.

Rienecker, 50, had been moved from Jersey City Medical Center to the burn unit at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston in critical condition. He passed away last night.

Former fiancee Julia Mae Schneider described him as a “brilliant artist and a very good soul.”

Artist Bob Piersanti said he was a “nice, gentle, quiet fellow but really friendly if you got to chat with him. He loved art and rock and roll…I’m really heartbroken hearing about his loss.”

Rienecker was known for his generosity. Before they were engaged, Schneider found herself bouncing from apartment to apartment. He offered her an entire floor in his house. “He was always a lifeline for me.”

Said artist Kayt Hester “Goat was always so supportive of me. He came to every show. EVERY show. He always bought something and was full of compliments and kind words.”

Indeed, Rienecker often bought works by fellow Jersey City artists, much of which was in his house at the time of the fire, according to Schneider.

Scot Rienecker and dog
Scot Rienecker and Tiberius

Rienecker was given the nickname “Goat” by a cousin at the age of eight. It stuck with him throughout his life.

A group of fellow students from the School of Visual Arts where Rienecker studied created a character called Goat for their Emmy nominated cartoon series set in Jersey City called “Downtown.” Reinecker did the voiceovers.

“He was really like a living cartoon character” said Schneider.

Piersanti described Rienecker’s work as tattoo-inspired mixed media.

According to a friend from SVA, Rienecker came to Jersey City in 1990, well before the current wave of gentrification. Schneider thought it important that people know that he had “played a very big part in creating an arts scene.”

Recently, however, Rienecker had been dealing with health challenges according to Schneider.

The initial investigation by the Hudson County Regional Arson Task Force has determined that the fire does not appear suspicious, however, the origin and cause of the fire remain under investigation.

The Hudson County Regional Arson Task Force is actively investigating this case with assistance from the Jersey City Fire Department. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Prosecutor’s Office at 201- 915-1345 or to leave a tip here. All information will be kept confidential.

Aaron is a writer, musician and lawyer. Aaron attended Berklee College of Music and the State University of New York at Purchase. Aaron served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. He received a J.D....