By ROBERT LINNEHAN | The Cherry Hill Sun
Everyone knows his music, but few know his artwork. Legendary musician John Lennon was one of the most prodigious music talents in the 20th century, but he was also a dedicated artist, dabbling in several mediums during his celebrated life.
Yoko Ono and The Partnership for Haddonfield are presenting, “We All Shine On,” a look into Lennon’s life through his own personal artwork. Art lovers will get a chance to see over 200 of his personal pieces on Friday, Oct. 2 through Sunday, Oct. 4, at 106 Kings Highway East in Haddonfield.
Ono took a few minutes to talk to The Haddonfield Sun by phone about the upcoming exhibit and about her desire to keep the spirit of Lennon alive.
Tell me a little bit about the exhibit? How did you get the idea to start this?
It was something that I started after John’s passing. Before that he was trying to get a gallery show together and it was difficult. It was hard for him because he was so famous for being a rocker. There was a bit of elitism in the art world. When he passed away I thought I’d better do this because he wanted it that way. I started to look around and it was not very easy in the beginning. Now, it’s an incredibly popular program.
How often did you see John drawing something? Was it something he devoted a lot of time too or was it more of just a hobby?
He was always doing it. It was his security blanket, when we were at home or something he was always drawing. I saw him being very depressed sometimes, but he would be drawing. I would see the drawings and they were very humorous, that’s just how he was, he was trying to get out of that low feeling.
How would you describe his work?
His work is very unique, but also, it has a kind of sense of humor that is lacking in the art world.
Why did you decide to color it yourself?
That was a little bit controversial, but I think people understood it. The people who head up the program, they came one day and they showed me a brightly colored drawing. I thought, “What did you do?” I thought it was sacrilegious that they decided to color it. But, they said they had to do it because it wouldn’t have been featured in the exhibit’s window. I just wanted to show his drawings. I thought the colors would be a nice little touch for it, but just let me do it. I think he would have liked it this way.
Can you tell me about the Spirit Foundation? Where does the money go?
The Spirit foundation is something we set up in 1980. We didn’t know he would pass away at the end of that year. It was something that we wanted to create to help people who need help throughout the world. I’m still doing that. It’s a very small foundation and is mostly used to help abused women and children.
I just wanted to do that because it’s something that keeps John’s spirit going. It’s something that John and I did together. It’s just good to keep around.
You usually don’t go to these exhibits, but you went to one five years ago in New York City.
That was a big one. It was very important that I go there. Of course it’s New York City. In the beginning I did go to all of the exhibitions, but these days the exhibitions are so popular they really don’t need me around. The work is standing on its own.
Do you like the idea of a video game like “The Beatles Rockband” introducing young children to their music catalogue?
I think it’s great, it’s so good, it’s educational. I’m not one of those people who are into video games, but my kids were. Video games are so violent, they’re really terrible. But, I suppose if they have to do something, how are we going to change this situation? This Rockband, it has no violence, it’s great for the kids.
Next year is John’s 70th birthday. So many people are planning things; it’s going to be a fantastic active year.