Vancouverites can celebrate the late John Lennon's birthday this Saturday at the launch of a new art exhibition featuring collaborative works the Beatles star worked on with Yoko Ono, the world-renowned artist and love of his life.
Growing Freedom: The instructions of Yoko Ono / The art of John and Yoko opens Oct. 9 at the Vancouver Art Gallery and is a major survey exhibition celebrating the work of Ono, a conceptual and performance artist.
Organized into two parts, the first section invites viewers to participate in the creative process by following text instructions provided by Ono and, in a way, collaborate with her on some of her famed pieces.
This includes mending broken ceramics (Mend Piece,1966/2021), hammering nails into a canvas (Painting to Hammer a Nail, 1966/2021) and writing about their mothers on a sticky note and attaching it to the gallery wall (My Mommy is Beautiful, 2004/2021).
The second part of the show features collaborative work by Ono and Lennon on the subject of peace, including Bed-ins for Peace, which were filmed non-violent protests against war undertaken by the couple in 1969.
As the Vietnam War raged, the duo held two week-long performances where they sat in bed together. Derived from the idea of peaceful sit-in protests, the first was held in Amsterdam and the second in Montreal.
"The one thing that brought them together ... was to work for peace," said co-curator Cheryl Sim.
The exhibition is a dream come true for Sim, who contacted Ono with a written note in 2017 asking if the artist would be interested in having such a show staged in Vancouver. She was game.
"It's just all come together in a beautiful way," said Sim.
The former is an invitation from Ono to women to submit a picture of their eyes and a written testament about harm they have endured because of their gender.
The latter involves a number of local Indigenous artists invited by Ono to create a vessel that can hold water. According to Sim, Ono requested to work with these artists to reflect the significance of water to these communities.
Growing Freedom: The instructions of Yoko Ono / The art of John and Yoko runs until May 1.
COVID-19 safety protocols are in place including the need to book tickets in advance and wear a face mask when visiting the galley.