In 1968, avant-garde artist Yoko Ono brought the new love of her life, Beatle John Lennon, to an art show she was a part of in Coventry, England.
It was an experience that would come to perfectly symbolize the spiritual, romantic and artistic bond that would prosper for a dozen years until Lennons death in 1980.
“I thought that John should come with me and do something at the show too,” Yoko told me on the phone from London last week in her kind and peaceful tone. “John said I want to plant an acorn. I thought it was such a beautiful idea: an acorn as sculpture. So I said I would do the same, we will plant two acorns together. One was planted in the East, because I come from the East, and John planted one in the West. But the idea that East is East, and West is West, the two shall not meet was turned around into East and West are together. John said Yes, mine is in the West, but its right next to you. We thought that was very beautiful, that we had made a revolution in a sense, that we changed physical distance with our love.”
This week, Ono brings her late husband’s artwork to Alexandria for a three day showing and sale at 1104 King Street. The show is called “Power to the People: The Artwork of John Lennon,” and it is free to public, with proceeds of the sale benefitting the Alexandria Seaport Foundation.
During their time together, Yoko would prove to not only be the true love of Lennons life, but often his creative collaborator on everything from music to controversial protests to vanguard forms of media. But perhaps her most important influence on Lennon was her passionate encouragement of his growth as an artist, both when he was alive and posthumously. The road to acceptance for the iconic couple however, in art or anything else, was not an easy one.
“I have been given so much grief for my expression, in general, from the beginning,” Ono told me. “But it seems that later, people started to understand what I am doing, and Im very happy about that. As far as Johns art, some would say, “the musicians trying to be an artist, but the professional artists and the art students, theyve been tremendously impressed with Johns work over the years. Johns style is more or less the kind of style Picasso had in his later years, but John was not copying anyone. John had his own style.”
A profound chapter in Lennons art career are his “Real Love – The Drawings For Sean” pieces, which illustrate the intense love Lennon had for he and Onos son, Sean. Lennons difficult childhood fueled his deep desire to make life for Sean much different from the one he had.
“John had a terrible childhood,” Ono continued. “His father was not around, so when John became a father with Sean, he was just so happy, he was so loving to Sean. Everything he did with Sean, including the drawings, was something that he cherished.”
And if her husband were still living, what would he and Yoko be collaborating on these days?
“I just think that wed be going crazy doing the same things we used to do.”