Yoko Ono shares John Lennon’s drawings to help the vulnerable in the city he loved

This drawing, titled "Two Is One," is just one of the rarely shown works that will be on view at 72 Greene St. Credit: Courtesy of Yoko Ono
This drawing, titled “Two Is One,” is just one of the rarely shown works that will be on view at 72 Greene St.
Credit: Courtesy of Yoko Ono

An exhibit of drawings by John Lennon will be up in Soho from Oct. 9 to Oct. 14 to raise money for Citymeals-on-Wheels, a local emergency food provider that delivered 64,000 meals to homebound seniors in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last year.

The exhibit, curated by Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, is free to the public, though the gallery asks for a $3 suggested donation for Citymeals-on-Wheels. Over the course of 11 years, Ono has displayed various drawings around New York City in support of Citymeals-on-Wheels, raising more than $160,000.

Ono said people initially balked at showing Lennon’s artwork years ago, likely because they only saw him as a musician.

But Ono pointed out Lennon started as a painter and a visual artist.

She recounted how Lennon was unable to get into any universities — “because he was wild, you know?” — until a supportive art teacher intervened on his behalf and helped him get into the Liverpool College of Art.

“He was not sure he would get in but he did,” Ono said. “In fact, he got into one of the best art schools in England at the time, and he was very, very happy about that and he was very proud about that too.

"Embrace" a drawing by John Lennon.
“Embrace” by John Lennon. Credit: Courtesy of Yoko Ono

“The history of John Lennon as an artist from the beginning was art,” she added, “and then he got interested in rock ‘n’ roll while he was in art school.”

Ono said Lennon was fascinated by New York City from a young age, because his father worked on ships and would travel to the city often. Lennon told her his father had talked about Central Park.

“John always remembered that and would always say, ‘My dad was here, you know? My dad was here!’” Ono recalled.

Ono said Lennon always felt a strong connection to the New York art scene.

“New York art is hip and cool, and that’s what John was: hip and cool,” Ono said simply.

Some of the drawings that will be shown at this year’s show have rarely been seen before, and have all been exactingly curated by Ono, a self-described “control freak.”

“I’m an artist and I trust my instinct,” she said, adding that her instinct “includes what John would have liked.”

Ultimately, she said, she’s hoping visitors to the show will have a sense of “the fact that John loved the city.”

“He had an incredible positive feeling about the city and I hope that’s going to rub off on all of us now that people are frightened and depressed,” she said. “Remember, it’s a beautiful city, and we can make it better.”

Imagine There’s No Hunger: The Artwork of John Lennon
An exhibit to benefit Citymeals-on-Wheels
Oct. 9-14
72 Greene St. between Broome and Spring, Soho
Free, $3 suggested donation (100% of every $3 donation will go to preparation and distribution of meals by Citymeals-on-Wheels)

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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