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Yoko Ono-Lennon Discusses Lennon Art Exhibition

Originally Posted: August 11, 2008

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Yoko-Ono Lennon. Photo by Byrne

Southampton - Legacy Productions works directly with Yoko Ono-Lennon and the Estate of John Lennon to bring up to 20 art exhibitions a year featuring over 100 individual pieces of artwork by John Lennon (encompassing the years 1968 through 1980) to cities throughout the world. The exhibitions usually run for three to four days.

This year's exhibition, "Come Together" - A Look Into John Lennon's Life Through His Artwork - will be held at the Southampton Inn from August 22 through August 24, and includes hand-signed pieces, as well as limited edition prints, serigraphs, lithographs, copper etchings and aqua tints - all of which are for sale, with proceeds from this exhibition to benefit the Human Resources of the Hamptons.

Ms. Ono-Lennon graciously gave a telephone interview on Monday, Aug. 11, to discuss the upcoming exhibition:

Is there a particular reason or any significance as to why the Hamptons were chosen as one of the venues for this year's exhibition?

YOL: Well, most people consider the Hamptons to be a place of luxury, wealth and pampering, so perhaps this exhibition, with its connection to the Human Resources of the Hamptons, will be an eye-opening experience. A charity that helps those that are not so fortunate or wealthy.

Are you involved in the choice of venues that exhibit the artwork?

YOL: Every aspect of it - it may not have any consistency, but it is a very good reason to go to different cities as we want the exhibition to be available in as many cities as possible for people to enjoy. And the opportunity to associate with charities that provide services to these communities is an important part of the exhibition.

"Power To The People" by John Lennon

Are you involved in the choice of the artworks that are exhibited each year?

YOL: Yes, many are from the Bag One series. We want both young and old to enjoy the work.

[In 1969, as a wedding gift, Lennon drew the Bag One Portfolio - a chronicle of their wedding ceremony, honeymoon, and their plea for world peace - the Bed-In. The Bag One series was first published and exhibited in January 1970 at the London Art Gallery. On the second day the exhibition was closed by Scotland Yard and the erotic lithographs confiscated. The portfolio was published in a limited edition of 300 lithographs and contains 14 pieces. Some of the works are of an erotic nature. The Bag One Portfolio is on permanent exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York].

Is there a particular criterion for choosing which charities will benefit from the proceeds of these art exhibitions, such as the Human Resources of the Hamptons?

YOL: Well, I consult with the curator in the respective cities that have been chosen, and they send me a list of charities for those areas and I choose which one. We are very happy that the Hamptons exhibition will benefit the Human Resources of the Hamptons.

Do you consider the Hamptons to be a notable artistic environment, given some of the artists associated with this area such as Jackson Pollack or Chuck Close?

YOL: Yes of course - as well as Andy Warhol - that group of artists were also important to us.

Could you comment on any historical or contemporary art figures they may have influenced Mr. Lennon and/or yourself?

YOL: This may be hard to believe but John was influenced by Van Gogh, although it's not reflected in his work. You know there are two forms to all art - comedy and tragedy - the serious actor always seems to be the one who is most respected or receives the awards or recognition, and the comedic actor finds it difficult to be recognized equally. John's sense of humor was always reflected in his art. His ease of style may look easy, but it is very unique, and shows great respect for all people to be drawn to it.

Given the length of time this exhibition has been touring, have you found a great degree of cultural differences in audiences that view the exhibition in different areas of the United States, as well as internationally?

YOL: Not really - no important difference, the [art] work speaks for itself and it is meant to bring people together to enjoy and find an opportunity to talk to each other. We hope that the exhibition helps people to discuss real issues of peace.

Could you comment on any effect the appeal of this exhibition may have with regard to art appreciation and collectors versus curiosity and consumerism?

"War Is Over" by John Lennon

YOL: You are being very tactful and that is an interesting question. We hope people will come to see the artwork and by keeping the prices low and affordable their participation will benefit charities important to the areas where they live; that the exhibition will speak out to people to discuss love and peace. We are all in this family together.

Do you believe that formal training in art whether in school or perhaps a mentorship, was considered imperative or even important to either Mr. Lennon or yourself in order to fully express a chosen medium?

YOL: John attended the Liverpool Institute of Art [1957-1960] which is considered a very prestigious school so he was formally trained. Although his work is humorous it still indicates his training. On the other hand, I did not attend art school and received no formal training. [Lennon expressed his artwork primarily in drawing and favored working in pen and ink].

Do you view the Internet as an additional worthwhile medium in which to showcase Mr. Lennon's artwork and yours?

YOL: In that it helps more people to see the work and know the love and peace both John and I are about - it helps for those that may not be able to attend any of the exhibitions, but we hope that people will get out and physically attend the exhibitions in different cities so that it gets them talking to each other as well. It's important for people who do not know John's work to stop by the exhibit to fully understand it.

Any comment on your own artwork and current exhibitions?

YOL: My comment is that I have no comment on my artwork. . .

What about Onochord - do you feel that the message is taking on even more significance given what is happening in the world today, and that this country is at war?

YOL: It is sweet that you know and mentioned Onochord, as I have been asked to travel to many different cities and do shows, and I do plan to travel to about five or six different cities each year to keep it going. It is very important here to remember that I have not changed from what John and I always wanted together - for people to pay attention, love one another and be involved in world peace, even in spirit.

["Onochord" is an artistic medium Ono-Lennon unveiled in Venice, Italy in 2004 which consists of using a flashlight or other light to flash (i) a universal message; i = I; ii = Love; iii = You or I Love You. At that unveiling, Ono-Lennon stated "This is because I feel that now in the world there is so little to love, because everyone is frightened, confused and angry and there is not very much love in the world, so I want to promote love and I thought of a morse code - like a message and chord like in music, so it's called Onochord].

This medium is a global representation of one message that is still enjoying a tremendous popularity.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.

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Guest (dede) from east hampton ny says::
Nice interview. Thoughtful questions. Yoko seems lovely and truly dedicated to promoting her and John's focus on peace intention/attention.
Aug 17, 2008 11:29 am

Guest (Fan) from NYC says::
Great article, can't wait to see his work.
Aug 14, 2008 9:44 pm


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