The Art of John Lennon: Omaha

Reprinted from:

By Casey Logan / World-Herald staff writer
The Artwork of John Lennon

What: art exhibit

When: noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Regency Court, 120 Regency Parkway, Suite 102

Cost: free; suggested donation of $5 will go to the Food Bank for the Heartland

Information: 402-496-4797

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Most people know John Lennon for his music.

Yoko Ono wants more to recognize him for his visual art.

“I really believe his work should keep on being given to people and get some air, be alive now,” she said by phone from New York, promoting a traveling exhibit of Lennon prints coming to Regency Court this weekend.

The three-day exhibition will feature approximately 80 lithographs and serigraphs posthumously reproduced from Lennon’s original drawings with Ono’s supervision and approval. In some cases, Ono, whose own artwork is currently featured in a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, added color to Lennon’s original sketches.

The show, “The Artwork of John Lennon,” is presented by the Las Vegas-based exhibitor Road Show Co., in collaboration locally with Gallery 72. The exhibition travels to 10 to 15 U.S. cities each year.

All prints on display are also available for purchase, with prices ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Since 1986, Ono has periodically released some of Lennon’s art for exhibition. She said she creates each show based on the pieces she feels are most relevant at present.

“When I say people should have them now, in terms of subject, you might think (they’re) very political,” she said. “But, no. It has to do with a degree of peace, degree of fun, and degree of showing what he was like.”

The theme of family — Lennon’s second marriage to Ono and the subsequent birth of their son, Sean — appears again and again.

“It’s good to remind people of the normal — I call it normal — the kind of family system we were used to,” she said. “It didn’t really have very much to do with what’s going on in the world. It’s very, very personal. Personal, private life. He wanted to visualize it.”

Long before the Beatles, Lennon sketched as a kid. As a teenager, his sketches veered toward the topical — the sort of illustrations, Ono said, that he might have submitted to a newspaper for consideration.

“Very cynical and all that,” she said.

The pen-and-ink drawings he made later became more autobiographical and whimsical in nature, many of them in a “loose sketch” style. Lennon made a series of such sketches in 1969 as a wedding gift to Ono. A year later, Lennon exhibited the “Bag One” collection at a London art gallery, only to have censors shut it down a day later due to erotic content.

“He didn’t try to make it big,” Ono said of the exhibition, “but anything he did was taken in a big way in those days.”

The uproar overshadowed what Ono still finds most interesting about her late husband’s drawings: that behind the celebrity, beneath the breezy sense of humor and messages of peace and love, was a lifelong artist with a meticulous sense of detail.

“Nobody would think that really until they see what John does,” she said. “He was an incredibly detailed person. … He was drawing in a very professional way.”