came to expressing his artistic tendencies,
before John Lennon ever picked up a Gallotone
Champion guitar, ink and paper were his instruments of choice. A budding
illustrator in grammar school, his talent would later be cemented with a
rebellious stint at Liverpool’s prestigious College of Art.
thing happened on the way to the Tate, and Lennon soon became part of one of the
greatest musical phenoms in history. His love for art however, never subsided
and by his untimely death in 1980, he’d left a vast catalog behind—parts of
which are for sale this weekend at La Fonda, in a benefit for The Food
Depot, Northern New Mexico’s food bank.
“Surrealism had a great effect on me because then I
realized that the imagery in my mind wasn't insanity,” Lennon would famously
say of his budding signature style. “Surrealism to me is reality.”
on the phone with SFR from her New York City townhouse, Yoko Ono recalled her
husband’s artistic insecurities.
an extremely sensitive artist,” she says in her signature twang. “When it came
to his artwork, people seemed to have this ‘I can do it too’ kind of feeling,”
adding that though simplistic, “he had an even balanced technique.”
works handpicked by Ono encompassing lithographs, serigraphy and copper etchings are on display this weekend with
prices ranging from $200-$15,000, all with the common thread of “truth.”
"He was very much into truth and people would wonder if he
was crazy, especially when it came to his artwork," Ono reminisces. "He'd say
things like 'I could just walk on water' and people's reaction was 'How dare
you say that?'"
An artist in
her own right, one of Ono's most notorious works is 1966's Film No. 4, a short that showcased the buttocks of 365 people. Moving
to the opposite side of the anatomy, last month she debuted #smilesfilm, a lofty,
interactive project that aims to document every single living human being's
An idea she says, surfaced form the never-ending grief she
suffered after loosing her husband.
“I systematically smiled into the mirror every morning. My smile was forced and looked terrible. But as I kept smiling for some time, my smile
became a natural smile. It not only
became a smile with my mouth and my eyes, but my shoulders, my tummy and,
finally, with my whole body!” She blogged.
A permanent pop culture fixture, Ono’s name
has become synonymous with a female force interjecting in a band’s dynamic.
I suggested to her perhaps it was time to
change the expression to “Oh she’s a regular Courtney Love,” or “Who does she
think she is, Selena Gomez?” To which she just scoffed.
“People can say whatever they want,” she said
in a matter-of-fact way; “I’m not really too concerned by it.”
Contrary to that subdued reaction, the years
have not slowed her down, and in her own way sent out a dig at Paul McCartney. Over
the years Sir Paul has dabbled in art, as has Ringo Starr who recently had an
MS Paint-themed show.
Asked to size up her late husband’s work
against theirs, her response was immediate.
"Well, I mean do you want me to say it?" she asked. "His
work shows that John was really an artist from the beginning. He went to art
school and was a true artist," she continued. "As far as the others, what Ringo
is doing is much more in the lines of primitivism and I'm surprised by all the
beautiful things that he does."
As far as expectations for the Santa Fe show in particular show,
Ono tells SFR they're nonexistent.
"I'm just giving people some food for thought and some
excitement, I suppose."
Though she is not physically present during show,
attendees can expect a number of cameos from her in several of the show’s
pieces, a decision, she says, that was merely accidental.
couldn’t get a model. I was just there,” she says.
Yoko Ono Presents: The Artwork
of John Lennon Noon-8 pm Friday,
July 13 ; 11 am-7 pm Saturday, July 14; 11 am-6 pm Sunday, July 15. Free.
La Fonda on the Plaza Hotel, 100 E San Francisco St., 982-5511
Santa Fe Reporter